Lamont Hamilton

The formula for the St. John’s men’s basketball team will lie in the hands of a couple of hometown boys.

While Queens native Daryll Hill will return as the team’s point guard and top scorer, it is Brooklyn’s Lamont Hamilton who will be watched as the big man in the middle and in the post for the Red Storm after establishing himself as a force in the paint last season.

The 6-foot-10 forward has vastly improved in his two seasons.

He’s instantly becoming the biggest inside threat on the team.

His size and power have made him difficult to handle in the post as an inside scorer, rebounder and shot blocker.

“Lamont will be the key to our inside game,” coach Norm Roberts said. “He is extremely talented, has increased the range on his shot and has done a great job in the weight room this off-season. The sky is the limit for Lamont with his abilities and talent.”

The junior big man was the only member of the Red Storm to start all 27 games.

He averaged 13.3 points per game (second on the team behind Hill), 7.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks, earning him All-Met third-team honors.

It was last season that Hamilton showed his offensive potential, scoring in double-figures on 19 occasions and collecting his first career double-double with a career-high 24 points and 11 rebounds against Virginia Tech.

It was the first of five double-doubles for Hamilton.

As a freshman, Hamilton quietly showed what he could do as a full time player in a small sample, starting four of the 18 games he played.

He averaged just 5.9 points and shot 44.3 percent from the field. Yet Hamilton led the team with 20 blocks and finished second in free-throw shooting with 67.5 percent (27-for-40).

Hamilton shot 59.3 percent (54 of 91) from the charity line last season.

It was a drop off from his rookie campaign, but Hamilton says he knows the solution to his problem.

“I’m not really worried, I just got to relax and take my time,” he said. “Try to have my balance, try to focus, taking my time.”

His coach made it a point in the off-season for Hamilton to address a category that could have boosted his scoring totals.

“One thing he knew he needed to improve on is free throw shooting,” said Roberts. “He is constantly working on it. He is a guy that averaged 14 points a game last year and didn’t shoot well from the free throw line. Had he shot well from the free- throw line it might have been 18 points.”

In addition to his free throws, Hamilton spent the summer bulking up.

“My chest, my body, my legs,” Hamilton said. “I’ve just been trying to get my body a lot stronger.”

The results have left an impression on Roberts, the second-year coach.

“Lamont’s made a lot of improvements,” Roberts said. “He built his body up. He’s stronger. He knew that he had to build up his lower body because he got pushed off the block quite a bit. He’s made himself more explosive.”

As a co-captain with Hill, Hamilton’s leadership will be tested this season as he hopes to not only lead St. John’s, but also set an example for the new players on the squad.

“Me being a leader means me being more vocal,” Hamilton said. “I’ll try to show the new guys some of the ropes. Show them what we’re about, what we’re trying to accomplish.”

With the added onus on leadership, Hamilton seems excited over the chemistry the team has built together.

“I feel real comfortable with everyone on the team,” Hamilton said. “The chemistry is real good. We try to do everything together, we go to study hall together, we eat together, and we hang out together.”

After a pair of sub-par seasons, Hamilton believes this year’s Red Storm is far more talented than recent ones and has the potential to go far in the Big East Tournament.

“We’re definitely looking at making the Big East Tournament,” Hamilton said.

Having come into his own, Hamilton has set forth his main goals for the upcoming campaign: Averaging a double-double and simply giving his all.

“I’ll just try to go as hard as I can,” said Hamilton. “We’re a little deeper down low this year, so I’ll just keep doing my thing. Whatever I can do to help the team I’m going to do.