Basketball: ‘I’M TRYING TO PROVE PEOPLE WRONG’
By BRANDON HURLEY
This is the year he fully emerges from the shadows.
Armed with a smooth shooting stroke, dead-eye range and an expanded offensive arsenal, Trey Hinote’s assault on the Greene County record books is nearing a crescendo.
That’s not to say the the guard hasn’t been an integral part of the high school basketball program’s growth over the last few years. Not at the slightest. But each year Hinote has spent in Jefferson, he’s taken a significant step toward greatness, defying the haters and the naysayers.
The Dordt signee’s ascent has been a mission of gratification as much as it is a tussle with outside expectations.
He’s heard it all – ‘coach’s son,’ ‘just’ a shooter and ‘not as good as so-and-so.’
Don’t worry, that’s just extra fuel for the fire.
“Throughout my whole life, especially when I was a freshman, people (would tell me) ‘you only play because your dad is the coach,” Hinote said. “(And the) articles during AAU, they’d say this kid is better and all that. So I’ve been using that as motivation.”
A year removed from his first season as the guy in the Ram offense (16.9 ppg, 71 threes), Hinote is poised to take his game – and Greene County – to the peak.
If you thought the quick-triggered veteran displayed Steph Curry range a year ago, just wait until he steps on the court this winter. He’s poised to put on a long-range fireworks display that’s sure to captivate even the most casual of fans.
“I can step several feet (back), now. I’ll let it fly,” Hinote said. “If I’m within half court, there’s a chance that I might go up, especially this year.”
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As the saying goes, shooters shoot. And boy, does Hinote fling it.
He’s never met a shot he hasn’t liked, which certainly isn’t a bad thing, especially in today’s game. The fourth-year varsity starter was hooked at an early age, and his love for basketball only continued to grow.
“I’ve always been around (basketball). My dad (Jeramie Hinote) has been coaching ever since I was born,” the younger Hinote said. “There are pictures of me at my dad’s practices when I (couldn’t) even walk.”
Once he was old enough to play competitively, Hinote immediately gravitated toward scoring. The game came to him more than anything.
Often overlooked in recruiting circles, Hinote has let the records and pure shooting ability speak for him. He’s lit up the scoreboards for several years, and shows no signs of slowing down.
“In seventh grade, that’s when I realized I could shoot the ball pretty well,” Hinote said. “Ever since then, I’ve shot everyday, trying to prove a lot of people wrong.”
When he took the court and drilled 40 three pointers during his freshman year, it was “only because his dad was the varsity coach.” When he torched the AAU circuits over the summer, the scouts always found someone else to rave over. When Hinote took over point guard duties last winter, people were skeptical whether or not he could break out of the “shooter role.”
Hinote’s affinity for letting it fly has worked out quite well for him over the last few years.
He broke his own single-season Greene County three point record last winter by drilling 71 long balls (3 per game), which was the fifth best total in 2A and top 20 across all classes. The historic campaign was off the heels of 68 made threes a year prior, setting the single game Greene County mark of eight made threes back on Jan. 30, 2017.
The shooter is just 94 points shy of of breaking the 1,000-point barrier (906) and a mere 18 threes from eclipsing Trey Tucker’s all-time three-point mark of 196 career threes (Hinote sits at 179 career makes through three seasons).
The snap of the nylon had him hooked from the very first moment he let a shot loose.
“I fell in love with shooting,” Hinote said. “I just like the feel of it.”
That joy combined with a fearless mentality is what has allowed Hinote to drill three-pointers at such a consistent rate. The purity of the flick of the wrist and the high-arching shot ripping through the net, rarely touching rim – there’s nothing quite like it, Hinote said. It fuels him each night.
“It’s an adrenaline rush,” he said. “With me, if I make one, there’s a good chance I’m letting it fly again next possession.”
If the sweet-shooting veteran continues at the pace he shot last winter (three makes per game), the senior could break the all-time Greene County record by game six or seven.
That shouldn’t be too much trouble, as Hinote has never made less than 40 threes in a single season, which came in his freshman year when he averaged 8.7 points per game.
It’s a matter of where his game grows that will be the ultimate predictor of how Greene County does this winter.
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Hinote obviously can catch fire in a hurry, part natural ability, part acquired skill. His single game career-high is 28 points, coming in last year’s district final loss a year ago. He made six threes in a single game on multiple occasions in 2018, including in the narrow district final loss to 10th-ranked Des Moines Christian.
Hinote averaged 16.9 points per game last winter, guiding the Rams to their second straight 14-win season. He’s averaged more than 15 points per game over the past two years, nailing 139 threes over that span.
Hinote has become the next great scorer in a long line of top-notch Greene County athletes, thanks to his love for the game.
“He’s very passionate about basketball,” Greene County head coach Chris Nelson said. “He’s a really good kid. He works a ton at it. What he can do on the floor, he’s earned it. He’s put a lot of time and effort into it.
Nelson continued, “He’s a quick learner, and he knows what he needs to do to get better and he really attacks that.”
One thing Hinote doesn’t lack is a will to improve. He’s perfected a meticulous daily routine, one that hones in on the basics more than anything.
“Everyday when I’m in the gym, I make shots from five spots. I (focus on) form shooting,” Hinote said. “Whether that’s with one hand, working on the fundamentals. That’s what has gotten to me where I am today.”
He’s not a lunatic in the same vein of Ray Allen or Reggie Miller, he’s not hoisting up a thousand shots a day. No, at this point, Hinote knows when he’s in a groove. He gets his daily shots up and moves on. He relies more on sense.
“I’m not always in there a long time. I (practice) until I feel like I’ve found my stroke,” he said. “I don’t stay in there for hours. An hour or two. I stop when I feel like I’ve hit my spot.”
But there’s more to Hinote’s game than just a remarkable ability to drill long three balls.
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When the 2018-19 season tips in a little less than two weeks, Hinote will be a little more comfortable in his not-so-new role.
A laser focus on strength and conditioning as well as a dedication to ball handling has Hinote aimed at even bigger heights. While he managed to break the single-season three point record (71 makes) last winter, his three-point percentage dipped well below his career-best mark his sophomore year, from 43 percent down to 38.6.
“It was a learning experience for sure,” Hinote said after taking over point guard duties last winter. “I really struggled in the first half of the season. I overthought, I forced a lot of shots and didn’t let it come to me.
Part of that was due to an increased work load and focus in the offense (Hinote was the main guy for the first time in his career), which resulted in a higher volume of shots. With the ball in his hands to start most possessions, it didn’t provide him with as many wide open looks as he’d been accustomed to.
Hinote found himself adjusting on the fly.
“It was different,” he said. “I don’t want to say I was just a shooter, but I’ve learned how to create my own shot and not just settle.”
Though he’s a natural-born killer from deep, Hinote spends a significant chunk of his time these days finding creative ways to put the ball on the floor.
It’s what he believes can take his game to the next level.
“(This year), I’ll take care of the ball and put people in the right positions to score,” Hinote said.
Creating separation will open doorways to the hoop, and it all starts with the feet. Ball fakes, deception and classic fundamentals will set anyone apart at the high school level. He didn’t completely go back to the drawing board, but Hinote did call on what got him on the cusp of history in the first place.
“If you have good footwork, you don’t have to be the quickest or strongest guy,” he said. “If you learn all the pivots and what foot to shoot off of, and my release has gotten a lot faster, not many guys can block my shot.”
Despite a lower shooting percentage, the rest of Hinote’s game took a step forward last winter. He averaged a career-high in points, threes and steals and was one assist below his career best. He became a more well-rounded player as the season wore on, which coach Nelson took notice of.
“He’s gotten stronger and he’s utilizing the dribble better,” the coach said. “Last year, we had a good mix and he was starting to adjust. There were nights he was frustrated and as was I. This year, he’s going to have to do it in multiple areas.”
Defenses will be ready for Hinote’s onslaught of deep shots. Three years torching a competitive Heart of Iowa Conference and opponents will start to catch on. Having the ability to put the ball on the floor while calling on his teammates will only enhance Hinote’s game, Nelson feels.
“When he gets on the floor, there’s probably going to be a guy in his shorts because they know he can shoot it,” Nelson said. “But he’s very capable with the ball and I think that’s where he’ll make a difference this year.”
Adding that wrinkle to his game could very easily vault Hinote into the realm of 20 point scorers, putting him into the tier of the best all-around athletes in the state. With that, though Nelson won’t ask Hinote to shy away from the three ball, he’ll urge his trusted guard take it to the hole when the shots aren’t falling.
“He’s going to have the green light. If he’s not making anything, he can use that dribble,” Nelson said. “He can put it on the ground and start attacking the hoop. All of a sudden, he’ll find himself in a rhythm. When we get out and run and he’s got open shots, he’s going to let them go.”
Greene County opens the 2018-19 season Monday, Nov. 26 with a home game against Ogden. They’ll begin HOIC play Nov. 30 against two-time defending league champ South Hamilton.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The 2018 Winter Sports preview will publish Nov. 29.