Training Grounds, Part Eight: An Interview with Rico Hines

Training Grounds, Part Eight: An Interview with Rico Hines
Jun 27, 2007, 11:38 pm
Part One, Keith Moss
Part Two, Joe Abunassar
Part Three, Idan Ravin
Part Four, David Thorpe
Part Five, Dan Barto
Part Six, Mike Procopio
Part Seven, Rob McClanaghan

Part Eight: An Interview with Rico Hines

Rico Hines played at UCLA from 1997-2001. After working personally with players such as Baron Davis and Trevor Ariza, he is now a trainer with the Golden State Warriors.

Matthew Modderno: Where did you get your start in coaching or training athletes? Describe your background a little, what led you to what you do today.

Rico Hines: I played basketball at UCLA for five years. After that I was fortunate enough to start training players. UCLA is like a Mecca for basketball and a lot of guys go up to the old UCLA men’s gym. Before I started training guys, it was Phil Weber who is now an assistant with the Phoenix Suns. He was always up there training guys and getting them ready for the draft. And look now, he’s working guys out for the Suns. After him it was Neil Olshey who was working guys out up at UCLA. He was working guys out everyday and he started working some NBA guys out too. He turned that into a job working with the Los Angeles Clippers. Now he’s working as their Director of Player Personnel. I had just graduated when Neil got the Clipper job and there was just kind of a void up there. No one was working those guys anymore. From there I just kind of took it upon myself to do that. I started working guys out and it turned out that I loved it. I’ve always loved teaching and learning about basketball. I’m a basketball junkie and kind of a purist. I don’t have an ego about it at all. I just like helping guys get better no matter what they do. We are lucky that we get to get up each morning and go to a basketball camp. I love working because it’s a game, a game I love so much.

Matthew Modderno: Knowing how much you do love basketball, would like to stay with training, or transition more into coaching?

Rico Hines: Well actually right now I’m working with the Golden State Warriors. I just kind of finished up on my first year doing that. I was training different guys and working with them and I was so fortunate to get a job working here. I’m getting a chance to train, to coach, to teach, and to learn more than anything. I love having a role as a basketball coach and teacher especially here after the run we had this year.

All those things go together. They really do all go together. You can’t just train a guy to do something you have to coach him too. He has to be able to understand what the “team” is trying to do. I think that’s how you build a good organization. You have to guys that understand their different roles. That’s what I mean, coaching and training are all the same.

Matthew Modderno: Who are some of the players you feel you’ve helped the most? What areas do you think you had the greatest impact in?

Rico Hines: I had the opportunity to work with Trevor Ariza. I got to help him get ready for the draft, he was the 43rd pick. A lot of people thought he shouldn’t have left. I also worked a lot with Dijon Thompson to get him ready for the draft too. Last year I got the chance to work with Ryan Hollins and Charlotte just recently picked up his second year option. He has a long way to go but a lot people know he’s a project. He’s grown up a lot with hard work over the years and it’s nice to see him finally turn into a pro. And of course I’ve been able to work with Baron Davis. I worked with him all this past summer. Look at the year that he had. He had a really great season. He’s a top two point guard in the world potentially; the other being Steve Nash. He’s got to be the greatest guy I’ve ever worked with and it helps because he’s a good friend. Also I’ve worked with Matt Barnes; I worked with him all season. Those are the guys right there.

Matthew Modderno: As far as guys like Dijon, Trevor, and Ryan, do you continue to help in their development after the draft?

Rico Hines: Well not really because like I said, I’m working with the Golden State Warriors. All the work that I do is with our guys now. Guys like Matt Barnes, Baron Davis, and also our young guys like Kelenna Azubuike. So I can’t help those other guys now because all my time is spent with the Warriors.

Matthew Modderno: Is there a certain philosophy that you bring to your work?

Rico Hines: The work that I do, it’s a lot about passion. I really do love what I do, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to continue to do what I do. It’s mostly passion and a lot of hard work. I’m all about work, work, work, and after that we are going to work some more. Training and hard work, it always pays off. Baron is a great example of that. He worked so hard all off-season to get into great, great, great shape. Look at the numbers he went and put up this season. It comes down to working hard and just flat working your ass off. You have to do that to be the best that you can be. Another thing is using your imagination to work out.

Matthew Modderno: Do you put together game plans for what you’re going to work on with a player after the season, or do they come to you with one?

Rico Hines: No, because the thing about it is, every guy that I work with, I try to work on whatever their strengths or weaknesses might be. Like I said, I’m a basketball junkie, if I’m not in the gym; I’m probably sitting down watching game film, or at my laptop watching game film. I am always somewhere watching film. I just watch all sorts of basketball all the time. I continue to watch basketball, looking for ways to get better and to make others better. So I kind of have a basic game plan as to what their weaknesses may be and what we can work on. Last summer I had the opportunity to work out with Joe Abunassar down in Las Vegas. I got to work with a lot of his guys as well. I just like to go to work. He worked with me the whole time I was down there and then I had a chance to work with Chauncey Billups, Al Harrington, Tayshaun Prince, and all the guys that were down there. And it was after that I came and started working with the Warriors.

Matthew Modderno: Do you think you have an advantage as a former collegiate player as far as knowing what it takes to prepare for things?

Rico Hines: I think it helps, it helps being a former player. At the same time, though, some of the best coaches are guys that have never played the game of basketball at a high level. I mean it actually helps me because I know what its like for them. You have to pick it up each and every day, but some days you just don’t feel like doing anything. I had my share of bad coaches too, so I learned what not to do. And then I know how to be creative, I know how to keep the guy’s attention. I try to do something different and not really do the same things twice. So it has helped me, but like I said, the best coach could be a guy who never even played.

Matthew Modderno: You played under Steve Lavin at UCLA, were there any things you picked up from him that help you now?

Rico Hines: Coach Lavin was great communicator. I’m a big believer in communication, especially in basketball. Communication is the key on and off the court. I learn how to work with the big players, the smaller players, just how to go back and forth and you have to communicate. So that was really the main thing I learned from him.

Matthew Modderno: For your work with the Warriors, do players come up to with things they want to work on or do you try and stick to an overall tune-up of their skills?

Rico Hines: Well as far as that goes, we always do some type of a tune-up. We always watch a lot of game film each and every time. I’m always open to teach them things or help them when they have something they want to work on. Matt Barnes was always one of those guys you could find working in the gym. A lot of people said he couldn’t really shoot the basketball. He went out and shot forty some percent from the three and that shows from the type of season he had. He did the extra work by coming back and being in the gym early and leaving late. It all comes back to hard work like I said. Matt Barnes took that to heart and he made his jumper better.

Matthew Modderno: Could you speak a little about the importance of being mentally prepared as compared with being physically prepared?

Rico Hines: Each and every guy in the NBA, they have it, they have “it.” Some guys just have an edge, and that’s what separates the men from the boys. Some guys do the extra work, I don’t consider just staying late as extra work. You either want to be good or you don’t. You have to be mentally tough. It takes that to get up all early and come to the gym. After 30 games, or after 50 games, still coming in and doing that extra work is hard. It takes being the first one off the bus at an arena because you want to get your shots up. Those things are what take mental toughness. If you just came back from a 9 day road trip and we get in late, still getting up early that next day to put shots up is tough.

Matthew Modderno: I know this isn’t really your area of expertise, but what do you think is more important to a player the situation they get drafted into or the position they are drafted?

Rico Hines: I think it’s just simply the situation. It is all about the system you go into. Look at a guy like Daniel Gibson, a lot of people said he shouldn’t have gone out early, but he’s a shooter and they need someone to make shots. If you can just get placed in the right system for you, I think everything will be good for you.

Matthew Modderno: Are their any aspects of your work that as a trainer, you would like to improve in; things that you would like to learn to be able to help the players.

Rico Hines: I just want to continue to learn about all aspects of the game. I want to keep learning from all the great guys here with the Warriors. All things going back to the old days, I’m an old school type of coach, so I like to listen and learn from the old people in the game. The guys who have been around for a long time, I just like to pick their brains.

I’m just always trying to get better. I’m a basketball junkie and a basketball purist. I’d like to work on each and every are of my game. I love this game with all my heart. I can’t imagine not being around the game of basketball.

Matthew Modderno: What do you see yourself doing in ten years?

Rico Hines: Hopefully I’ll be the coach of an NBA team or something good like that.

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