"I'm just working hard everyday trying to get better and better," Hinds said. "Earlier this season, I wasn't playing up to my potential. But, now, things are picking up … I was feeling it tonight, and I'm going to continue to be aggressive."
Hinds showed the knack of a playmaker against a fairly out-matched Zips team – one that just couldn't deal with his speed or athleticism one bit.
His success on the evening started late in the first half. Following a technical foul called on West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins after he became frustrated with not only his inconsistent team but also the officials, the Mountaineers went on a 19-2 run.
In that run, WVU was led by Hinds, who scored 15 of the points to give the Mountaineers an insurmountable lead at the half of 43-20.
By halftime, Hinds had a career-high 15 points, three rebounds, two steals and was 6-of-7 from the floor. He was the only player on the team besides forward Deniz Kilicli to shoot more than 50 percent from the field in the half.
Hinds is the first WVU freshman to score 19 or more points since Truck Bryant scored 21 in his final game as a freshman in an NCAA tournament loss to Dayton in 2009.
Hinds gives West Virginia something that it desperately needs – someone who can create his own shot. There isn't another player on the roster who can. Senior forward Kevin Jones is a jump shooter and garbage man. Bryant can score off the dribble, but he is inconsistent when doing so. The jury is still out on whether fellow freshman Gary Browne can create his own shot, as well.
"He's going to have the same type of work ethic (as Kevin Jones) and is going to be the same type of person," Huggins said of Hinds, who played at the same high school as Jones. "He's a very talented kid, too, and that's enough for me."
WVU needed a player to fill the role that former point guard Joe Mazzulla took over so successfully. It looks like Hinds will be able to do that.
Throughout the previous four games, Hinds hasn't been given the opportunity to truly show off his offensive skill set. He has struggled with turnovers prior to the Akron game (17 assists to 14 turnovers), and that has limited his minutes. Not on Monday, though. Hinds couldn't be stopped.
"It had to come eventually," Hinds said. "I've been working too hard."
And sure, Hinds shouldn't expect to put up 17 points on an average outing. As a freshman, he needs to play within himself and not do, as Huggins would say, anything he can't do.
"If you watched him play in high school, he was happy to get 12 or 14 (points)," Huggins said. "If he needed them to get 30, he'd get 30."
Hinds doesn't have to be a first scoring option. He doesn't have to be a second option either. He will be a great third or fourth one, though.
There's potential with Bryant, Jones, Kilicli and now Hinds to make a scary, versatile, scoring lineup.
"Jabarie has the talent to be an all-Big East guard in the future," Jones said. "He's really crafty with the ball and can get into the lane anytime he wants. That's trouble for the other team. He makes it a lot easier for us when he's playing at that level."
This was a huge game for the Mountaineers in 2011, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
If it wasn't for Hinds, it wouldn't have been a blowout.
On Monday, we all saw what Hinds is capable of doing on any given night.
The Big East should beware.
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