NEWS, NOTES &
Wednesday, February 8, 2006
By Bethany Bradsher
Detour through Fork Union
paying off for Hinnant
Sam Hinnant is still a freshman, but he is a
little more seasoned than most college newcomers. It was that
“freshman-plus” status that helped commend Hinnant to Ricky Stokes as one of
his first recruits.
year spent at Fork Union Military Academy has
helped rookie guard Sam Hinnant carve out a key
role for East Carolina sooner than expected.
“The most important thing about Fork Union is
that you know what you’re getting,” Stokes said, referring to Hinnant's
stint at the renowned military prep school. “You’re getting a guy who’s used
to discipline, who’s been well-coached, who understands the words
“Having the extra year of high school helps
kids, and he’s a year older, so he’s not your typical freshman.”
“I don’t think I was really ready for college
ball coming out of high school,” Hinnant said. “When I went to Fork Union, I
think it really transitioned me for college, outside of basketball, just
college life, living on my own and being away from home.”
Hinnant, who averaged 22 points a game and
helped win a state championship at Vance High School in Charlotte, has
showed the benefit of that experience on the floor for the Pirates this
season. To date, he is averaging 10.6 points and 30.7 minutes a game,
ranking third and second on the squad in those categories, respectively.
He has been a more important cog in the team’s
machinery than expected during his first year, Stokes said, but the minutes
he has played will speed his transition into a pillar of future Pirate
Growing up, Hinnant knew about ECU but didn’t
picture himself a Pirate — until he went to Fork Union and received a visit
from Stokes and his new staff. He returned the favor and visited campus, and
the chemistry between recruit and school was undeniable.
“I fell in love with the coaches, and I came on
a visit,” Hinnant said. “I committed on my visit because I loved the campus
He found himself on a young team with new
coaches, and with his 18 points in the UNC-Greensboro game on Dec. 6, he
defined himself as a potential difference maker on the floor. In his
signature performance of the season so far, he scored 18 to help propel the
Pirates past UNC-Wilmington on Dec. 31.
Like any young player, he still has some rough
edges to be smoothed out, Stokes said, but his statistics have moved in the
right direction over the course of the season.
“I think he’s gotten better,” Stokes said.
“Anytime you’re a freshman you have some highs and lows, and no question
he’s had some highs and lows. We hope that it will be a natural progression
for him to get a little bigger, a little stronger and more of a leader.”
As Hinnant starts to put all of the parts of his
game together, he is hopeful that the same convergence will happen with the
Pirates team as a whole. His hope for the remainder of the season is that he
and his teammates will start to assemble complete games.
“We’re right there, we just can’t finish the
game it seems like,” he said of the 7-14 Pirates. “I just feel we’re almost
there and I think when we get there we’re going to get on a good streak. I
think we get better each day and (are) growing together as a team.”
At this point, Hinnant is just thankful to have
a week with no competition in the middle of the week. It’s as close as a
basketball team gets to a bye week, and it comes at a welcome juncture, he
noted, with six games left in the season.
“I think it’s a time to work hard in practice
but also to get our legs back for this last stretch in the season," Hinnant
said. "Hopefully it will be a time to get better, and work on our things
that we have flaws on.”
McNeil, Hart update
According to a report from WITN-TV 7, Japhet
McNeil and Jonathan Hart might be back in the lineup soon. Coach Ricky
Stokes announced on Monday that the two players
would be suspended indefinitely due to
“conduct detrimental to the team.”
The station reported Tuesday that McNeil and
Hart were disciplined for missing an early-morning running workout that was
scheduled after all of the Pirates had been acting up during a film session
the day before.
If the suspension is indeed for just one game,
McNeil — the Conference USA assists leader — and Hart will return for next
Wednesday’s game against Rice.
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02/23/2007 01:12:47 AM