COLUMBIA — When Brady Hammond, the Rock Bridge student assistant boys basketball coach looks at the opposing bench tonight, family will look back.
No. 8-ranked Rock Bridge (19-2) plays No. 10 Liberty (15-5) at 7 p.m. at the Rock Bridge gymnasium.
Hammond grew up in Liberty and played for the Blue Jays in high school. Now, as a junior at MU, Hammond volunteers his time for the Bruins basketball program as an assistant coach.
“I’ll be 100 percent for Rock Bridge in the varsity game,” Hammond said.
Hammond’s two brothers, Tyler and Ben Hammond, will play in the junior varsity game.
“If my brothers are in the JV game, I want them to do well,” Hammond said.
Hammond aspires to be a high school head coach after he graduates with a degree in education. His dad, Tommy Hammond, who played for Clemson, coached him in junior high and AAU basketball.
“My dad said he regretted not being a head coach,” Brady Hammond said. “I came to MU as a pre-med student but didn’t like science as much as I thought. I always liked teaching, so I changed to education and thought about being a coach.”
Rock Bridge coach Jim Scanlon said Brady Hammond sent him a letter earlier this year and asked about volunteering to help the program. “We met for lunch and we really meshed,” Scanlon said. “He really fits into the program and helps the kids out a lot.”
Brady Hammond scouts for the Bruins. For tonight’s game againstLiberty, he filmed and did a scouting report on the Blue Jaystwice.
In addition to scouting, Hammond helps out at practice. Monday, Hammond stretched with the team while exchanging chuckles with sophomore Ricky Kreklow. Hammond then joined in the scrimmage while Scanlon focused on correcting some of his team’s mistakes.
“What’d I shoot? One for 20 from the field,” Hammond said jokingly. “It’s fun playing even when I’m not as good as I used to be.”
Hammond’s responsibilities extend beyond practice. While Scanlon prefers to stay out of the joking and kidding around, Hammond joins right in.
“It’s nice to have a young coach around,” senior Sam Thompson said. “He’s an easy target to make fun of because he’s the new guy.”
Hammond hopes his experience at Rock Bridge and with a veteran coach like Scanlon helps him down the road.
“I’ve really learned a lot,” Hammond said. “His philosophy and my dad’s philosophy are pretty much the same.”