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Hamilton chooses Northern Illinois

Prescott center Owen Hamilton (pictured last year holding the ball inside the key during a game against Baldwin-Woodville) has verbally committed to NCAA Division I Northern Illinois. (File photo)

PRESCOTT -- Prescott boys basketball star Owen Hamilton has his mind made up for next year's destination.

Hamilton, a 7-0 center, announced his decision to verbally commit to NCAA Division I Northern Illinois for college. He had seven Division I offers to choose from with Army, Vermont, Texas-El Paso, Oakland, Air Force and Utah State.

“When I got down there, I really liked it,” Hamilton said of NIU. “It just felt like the place for me.”

NIU coming off a 21-13 season didn't hurt either. In Huskies coach Mark Montgomery's fifth season, his team tied the program's second-highest win total ever.

“Their coach has been turning the program around a lot,” Hamilton said.

NIU hadn't won a Mid American Conference tournament game for eight years when Montgomery arrived. The Huskies reached the semifinals of the MAC tourney last season. Overall, the Huskies have won 36 games in the past two seasons.

“That really stood out a lot too,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton hopes to keep going strong with the Huskies.

“I hope that I can continue to be the best player that the coaches want me to be,” Hamilton said.

While Hamilton has the height that Division I college coaches want for their teams, that alone didn't make Hamliton a shoe-in for a scholarship. He put in extra work outside of the high school season with AAU hoops in Eau Claire and camps around the region.

Hamilton credits Cardinals coach Nick Johnson in his development as a high school player.

“He gives me the best opportunities to show what I can do,” Hamilton said.

Winning at the high school level helped Hamilton too. He helped the Cardinals reach the WIAA Division III state tournament in 2015 and then a sectional final in 2016. The senior post hopes to lead the way back to state this winter.

“We're hoping that we can make it down to the Kohl Center one more time,” Hamilton said. “I think we have a really good chance. We just have to put the pieces together.”

Hamilton will get to build on his double of 15.4 points and 10 rebounds per game for the Cardinals last season. The Cardinals open their season on Nov. 29 at New Richmond.