The Portsmouth Invitational proved to be a coming out party for UNC Greensboros Kyle Hines
. After a very strong, but largely unnoticed senior season in the SoCon, the power forward put up equally impressive numbers against the stiffer competition at the PIT.
The majority of Hiness touches come in the post, although he isnt a traditional back-to-the-basket player by any means. At 66 he is certainly undersized for his position but makes up for it with his tremendous strength and incredible 72 wingspan. The senior lacks a well developed post game, tending to rely more on smarts, brute force and hustle when on the block. It isnt rare to see Hines post up and lose control of the ball, only to regain possession and force his way to the basket for field goal. While this type of hard work inside is appreciated by scouts, this routine forcing of the issue is where the majority of Hiness turnovers come from. He is also very smart moving off the ball, knowing exactly when to cut to the rim and having terrific hands and knowledge of how to use his strong body to get his shot off.
Hines has showed us that he will play away from the basket, although a large percentage of the time it is merely to screen for teammates. When he does get the ball facing the basket there are flashes of potential, but clearly work needing to be done. Hines had decent quickness for a player of his strong build, but his average ball handling skills really hold him back from being a major threat to attack the rim. At this point he only shows success when he has a straight line to the basket, as changing directions often leads to him losing control of the basketball. Typically when defenders beat him to a spot rather than trying to change direction, Hines will spin and post up, reverting to his comfort zone on offense.
We havent seen a whole lot of perimeter shooting from Hines. It doesnt appear as though he is very comfortable attempting shots from beyond the immediate area of the basket. Several times in Portsmouth we saw him pass up fairly open looks, preferring to put the ball on the floor. On the few mid-range jumpers that he did attempt Hines showed a long, slow release, due mainly to his freakishly long arms. As a tremendously undersized front court player he will definitely need to develop the ability to be a consistent shooter from this area on the floor.
Defense is where Hines really shined during his three games at Portsmouth, and his numbers here were consistent with what he did during the regular season as well. Hines tied with Drexels Frank Elegar
for the tournament lead in blocks. While he isnt tremendously explosive, Hines shows a pretty good vertical jump when he is able to get a step or two in front of him first. Combine this with his great sense of timing and his length and Hines created all kinds of problems for opponents who attempted shots in his area. Particularly impressive was his ability at points to execute tough blocks while avoiding contact with the shooter. His aggressiveness did get the best of him though as he fouled out in the final minutes of the tournament championship game.
Hines also proved to be a threat to steal the basketball. His 2.3 steals per game during Portsmouth were slightly higher than his regular season average of 1.8, but he was able to achieve these numbers by showing a good understanding of how to play the passing lanes. As a whole, Hines shows great defensive instincts which allowed him to cover players all over the floor. While he spent a good portion of his time inside covering other post players, Hines was just as effective when he stepped outside to cover smaller players on the perimeter. This defensive versatility will make him a valuable asset to someone at the professional level.
While Hines may have not played himself onto anyones draft board, he showed that his early season 25-point 9-rebound performance against Georgia Tech was no fluke. Hines frame and abilities make him an interesting enough prospect to invite to the NBA pre-draft campwhere he can continue to try and prove people wrong. Clearly he is too undersized and not versatile enough to get drafted as a frontcourt player in the NBA, but his strength, length and basketball IQ have allowed him to more than hold his own against very good competition at the college level. At this point he may be a long shot to break into the league, but Hines will no doubt find a roster spot somewhere at the professional level.