With a promising career arc and professional basketball aspirations becoming a reality, Jabarie Hinds is jubilant. Signing a deal with Sigal Prishtina in Kosovo, a territory in Southeast Europe, earlier this month, he’s embracing the opportunity.
“It feels good to know that a team that was out there gave me an opportunity to play basketball at a professional level,” Hinds told Ridiculous Upside. “I’m just ready to leave and showcase my game across the water.”
There’s a sense of assurance for Hinds, knowing that his offseason training manifested into a contract, but also the willingness to naturally prove his worth. Consistency, both on and off the court, has personally helped Hinds reach the stratosphere of the pro level.
His scoring and defensive ability will be the catalysts in his ability to thrive for Kosovo this season, in a foreign environment where Hinds is primed to join.
Donning the West Virginia blue and yellow jersey throughout the first two years of his collegiate career, Hinds sought to be able to finish with either hand. Ambidexterity is a focal point of Hinds’ game as a scorer.
“That’s a plus, to finish with both hands,” Hinds said. “I have been working on my right hand since I was young. Honestly, I think my right hand is stronger than my left. I know that when I go to the basket I’m going to make a right hand layup and not be nervous because I can make plays with either hand.”
Transferring to the University of Massachusetts prior to his junior season, Hinds’ game expanded offensively under head coach Derek Kellogg. As a senior, Kellogg gave Hinds freedom to operate as a scorer at the point. Hinds’ deft ambidextrous ability allowed him to flourish for the Minutemen.
Averaging a career-high 14.4 points per game last season, the product of Mount Vernon High School (N.Y.) consistently finished at the rim (58.1 percent) with his left and right hand.
Hinds acknowledges that he still works on the acrobatic plays completed and exhibited during games. With an immense amount of difficulty compared to open jumpers or easy layups, Hinds’ propensity to convert on these looks only adds to his upside on Sigal Prishtina.
He’s also making sure his deliberate movements count, seeking to elevate his approach with the ball.
“At the professional level it’s going to be grown men and more physical,” Hinds said. “You have to master those moves. Any space you get you have to knock down those shots. That’s what I’ve been working on, making the right play and not messing around with the ball.”
Hinds didn’t intentionally probe and hijack possessions due to being careless at UMass, only committing just 1.7 turnovers per game in his senior campaign. He’s hoping to optimize his decision making as a point guard at the next level. Luckily for Hinds, his basketball I.Q. seems to progress as he matures as a player. Shot selection, in addition, is a priority to excel in as a professional.
“In my senior year, I was in the gym working on my shot and building confidence,” Hinds said. “That’s what I’m doing now, working on my game, my skill set and getting repetitions up. When I begin my first year of my career I’ll see which shots I’m comfortable taking to work out and get better at them.”
With a continuous spike in shooting efficiency from his freshman to senior season (45.8 percent on field goals, 36.9 percent from deep), it’s evidently contributed to the surge in his scoring. A product of an adept ability to score with both hands and an improving acumen as a point guard, Hinds has the potential to be an essential cog in Sigal Prishtina’s offense.
Scoring point guards are prevalent at the professional level. Hinds separates himself from other overseas point guards due to his defensive tenacity, quickness and instincts. At 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, the 23-year-old doesn’t have to handle exquisite physical specimens that the NBA predominately houses. Hinds can win with the same defensive style that he implemented in college.
His 1.5 steals per game he averaged for the 2015-16 season doesn’t effectively illustrate Hinds’ aggressiveness on the defensive end. He’s a gnat that doesn’t go away, but it’s intentional for the lead guard.
“When I’m playing defense, I just want to put pressure on the ball, deny passing lanes, make plays and be active,” Hinds said. “I’m a 5-11 guy, so I use my hands to make deflections and make it hard for my opponents.
It highlights his motor that simply won’t turn off. It’s becoming increasingly apparent, guards playing timid defense and deciding to exert the majority of their energy on the more glamorous end. Hinds isn’t complacent; he’s making sure that his defense allows him to stay on the floor when his shooting falters.
It’s also advantageous to have natural speed that can be used on both ends of the floor. Hinds utilizes his quickness to contain who he’s guarding.
“I have natural speed and I’m quick on the floor,” Hinds said. “My quickness is a plus, using my speed to my advantage. If I get beat in the full court, I know I can run my defender down and get back in front of him.”
Hinds doesn’t feel that he needs to bulk in order to stay in front of guards at the next level and believes he’ll retain his innate quickness in a tougher environment. For a Sigal Prishtina team that went 26-7 in the Kosovo Basketball League and 13-3 in the Balkan International Basketball League, adding an active, athletic defender like Hinds is productive.
The team had to replenish its roster after losing a majority of their talent, due to only veterans and natives of the country receiving more than one-year deals-per a source. Hinds has a definite and clear opportunity to make an immediate impact as an international point guard.