Following the NBA D-League's annual national tryout this past Sunday, it'll be interesting to see which players are offered contracts for draft eligibility this coming November.
That said, one player who received high marks and is already garnering quick praise is Curtis Hines, a 6'4", 195 pound guard out of North Carolina.
With his latest strong showing, Hines is hoping to break into the D-League once and for all, but as fate would have it, he isn't exactly a stranger to the concept of basketball's minor league. Truly understanding what it takes to grind his way up to the top, Hines paid his own way and traveled to multiple open tryouts last year. He was initially offered an opportunity to attend training camp with the 87ers following the tryout, but his spot was otherwise filled later on.
To date, he has continued to garner interest from teams like the 87ers, Fort Wayne Mad Ants, and Erie BayHawks. As he waited for an opportunity that ultimately didn't come, Hines wasn't one to waste time sitting by the phone. Instead, the guard used his time wisely, working out with longtime D-League coach and champion Bob MacKinnon.
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"We got a lot of shots up. We would work on a lot of pro moves. Doing what it takes to assimilate my game to the pro game," Hines said about the workouts. "We worked on how I can pick my spots for good shots on the court. He told me, that, without a doubt, he believes I could play in the D-League if given a shot."
Though he was looked as more of a scorer while playing Division II basketball at Shaw University, Hines has since made an effort to embrace more of as combo-guard mentality, he said. He understands that playing in the D-League often means making sacrifices as a team-player and facilitating floor general for some of his teammates. He's very athletic, runs well in transition, and catches and shoots with fluid motion.
Playing at the national tryout for the first time, Hines matched up against other minor league hopefuls and subsequently went on to shine. That said, over the years, he has also competed against even higher levels of competition. He's childhood friends with Phoenix Suns' swingman Reggie Bullock.
"Reggie and I played high school basketball together. We're best friends. Started at the AAU level and made our way up. We've known each other since we were 8 years old," he added. "Playing with him has always given me high level competition to match up against."
What's more, Hines also competed against former Idaho Stampede guard Tyrrel Tate for three seasons at the collegiate level. He says Tate has offered insight on what the D-League is like, and also got him in touch with Coach MacKinnon.
"I wanted a challenge. Tyrrel said if I wanted to challenge myself, then Coach MacKinnon was someone great to work with. He knows what it takes to play in the D-League," Hines explained. "He's a legendary coach. I felt like it was a true chance for me to see where my game was at."
Hines has continued to make strides in his game, improving over the past year with the D-League in his sights. It'll be interesting to see if teams begin to take notice yet again.