There have been many interesting storylines with the struggling Ole Miss basketball team: Breein Tyree’s scoring rein, the emergence of Devontae Shuler as a primary facilitator and the nickname “Dude Collum” for freshman forward Antavion Collum. But one thing that stands out for the Rebels this year is the play of Blake Hinson.
Prior to the season starting, Hinson’s role with the team was limited as he was dealing with a blood abnormality. After discovering this and feeling unwell, he returned home for a brief period of time.
Despite all of the problems surrounding his health — and those issues drawing him away from the team — he has put together a strong sophomore campaign, but this does not come without its drawbacks.
Hinson is a very hot-and-cold, on-and-off type of player, which can lead to one of two options: the side of Hinson that erupted for 26-points on the road against rival Mississippi State or the side of Hinson who has been shooting 26-percent from three at away games this year.
Even though he is listed as a guard, he does not play as a typical guard. He does not generally hold the ball for very long, and he does not provide ball handling or facilitation. The reason Hinson is on the floor is for spacing and shooting reasons.
Even though Hinson is on the floor for shooting, he has yet to surpass the 35-40% from behind the arc clip that marks an efficient and effective three-point shooter. Because of this and the types of shots he takes, the comparison to NBA-journeyman J.R. Smith is drawn.
J.R. Smith is more than an NBA player; he is a personality. He draws the ire of NBA memes and Twitter. Although he and Hinson do not necessarily compare in that aspect, when you look at stats and the shots they take, the comparison becomes evident.
Smith and Hinson are both unconscious shooters, meaning defense and depth do not faze them for the most part. While it can be good for a player to be confident, this player is generally only good for their team if they are hot and hitting shots.
The last game Hinson got off to a hot start — he made a three and a long jumper early — but after that, he did not contribute much besides fouls.
Hinson has a chance to be a real force on this team, and, with his ability to score and his athleticism, he could be an absolute animal for what thus far is looking like a depleted Rebel team next year. If he is able to re-tool, and the team is able to make the necessary adjustments, you could be looking at the next great shooter in the SEC.
When asked in late January about how he can impact the game, besides from shooting three, he said, “(I have) done more than impact the game with shooting threes, but when I watch film, (I see) there’s a million and one things I could have did to help the team be in a better situation. So there’s no such thing as good enough, the only good enough is winning. I got to figure out what more I can do to win.”
And then maybe, just maybe, the J.R. Smith comparison will fade away, and Hinson will no longer be known as the crazy confident shooter for this disappointing Ole Miss team. Perhaps he will be known as Blake Hinson, one of the SEC’s great shooters.