Team MVP Finishes UM Career

He played every game like it was his last this season and for good reason. A senior, Robert Hite, was on his final hurrah as a member of the University of Miami men's basketball team, and he made it a memorable ride. He supplied fans with some ooohs and ahhhhs while dazzling the ACC with an array of sickening dunks (24 to be exact) and some deep bomb three-pointers that seemed to come out of the heavens.

Robert Hite averaged 16.4 points per game during his senior year and hit a school record 85 three-pointers eclipsing the record of 79 set by Steven Edwards in 1992-1993 and later tied by Marcus Barnes in 2001-2002.

While his scoring average dropped a bit from his junior year, he scored more points this season with 558 than any year in his career at UM and saw his averages jump in almost every statistical category including shooting percentage at 45.1%, three-point shooting percentage at 41.1%, rebounding average at 5.8 good for second in the ACC among players 6-foot-5 and shorter, and assists per game at 1.4.

This level of consistency is what may end up propelling Hite into the second round of this year's NBA Draft as great shooters are hard to come by, but it is also what earned him Team MVP, an honor bestowed upon him by his teammates as they are ones who vote for this respected award, clearly the highest honor one can receive on the team.

"It means a lot that my teammates felt I was the Most Valuable Player. I just tried to come out everyday, practice, workouts, games, and just be a great teammate and show leadership by working hard everyday. They paid me back for it today," Hite said.

Hite's continuous improvement though wouldn't have been possible without the hiring of Frank Haith. While Hite did a great job in improving from his freshman to sophomore year under former coach Perry Clark, he made leaps and bounds as a junior and senior under Haith whose energy and hard work were absorbed and believed in by the players.

"Coach Haith did so much to help me improve my game with the drills that he had me doing and just staying on me. He believed in me and that really made me want to work even more, work harder. I just love him for that and the whole coaching staff did a great job helping me out and preparing me for the next level. I am definitely ready to play on the next level," Hite said.

Last weekend, Hite took his game to Portsmouth, Virginia, where numerous seniors go to work out for NBA scouts in a major pre-draft camp. Although Hite said he felt like he started off a little slow, he felt he improved as the camp went on and finished off strong and hopes to be invited to Orlando for another pre-draft camp that is soon approaching.

"Things went well in Portsmouth. I started off kind of slow, but I finished off strong. I am just praying that I get invited to Orlando and can continue my career," Hite said. "I've been getting some positive feedback. People have been telling me that I played well and I should get invited Orlando so I am just hoping and praying that does happen."

While dollars await Hite in professional basketball whether it is in the NBA or overseas somewhere in Europe, emotions for Hite were high as his career, although never making it the NCAA Tournament, saw major improvements from freshman to senior year where he led the ‘Canes to the quarterfinals of the NIT before bowing out to Michigan in a tough game.

"It was emotional you know. I tried to hold back the tears in the locker room after the game. This is it for me. That is what life is all about," Hite said. "Moving and getting ready for the next step. I wish these guys the best and I know they are going to be alright next year with the coaching staff that they have and the character they have.

"It was my last year and I just wanted to go all out every game to come out and give 110% and that's what I did and it paid off," Hite said.

Hite also saw the difference in crowds as the ‘Canes made the jump from the Big East to ACC where it seemed fans came out a lot more when ACC play began, but Hite's message to the fans was clear.

The ‘Canes need the fans support to have that home court advantage that any team needs, especially in a major conference. It starts with the fans bringing that energy from the rafters.

"Just keep supporting these dudes. Bring your family. Call people, tell them to come down and support the Hurricanes. They are going to be a big time program the next few years," Hite said.

And although Hite will not physically be on the court to help continue the program's improvement, his soul always remains and will surely be remembered for years to come.

Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat is a Staff Writer with CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at rudy@canestime.com


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