GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Ole Miss men's basketball forward Blake Hinson has waited for this opportunity.
- Hinson averaged 29.6 points per game for Deltona his junior season
- Brother Evan plays for South Carolina
- Played for his father during time with the Wolves
"It’s always what I wanted to do," Hinson said after the Rebels' Jan. 30 loss to Florida. "Always as a kid, dreaming, playing college basketball. Now, I’m doing it. So it’s just a kid living his dream.
Hinson, who was a star for Deltona in 2016-2017, has found his way to the Division I level with Ole Miss. So far, it's been the perfect fit.
"He picked the right univeristy, had all the right things he was looking for," his father Denny said. "Getting the opportunity to play as a freshman and being able to impact the team and that’s what he’s been able to do.
Thus far, Hinson is averaging 8.9 points per game in his freshman campaign. It may be a far-cry from the near-30 he notched for the Wolves his junior year before transferring to a private school in Kansas, but his roots in the Sunshine State have afforded him this chance to play.
“Florida athletics, there’s lots and lots of talent," his mother Shandrice said. "Blake had an oppportunity to play with lots of talent his age and older.”
And he doesn't shy away from his roots.
"It’s extremely important," Blake said. "I always represent it. Every time I come, I try to make a good showcase for myself."
But one of the most important dynamics to his Florida roots are who led him to this point. He had a chance to play with his brother Evan (now a college basketball player for South Carolina) under the guidance of his father at Deltona. And while Denny and the rest of his family attended that game against the Gators, he admitted it was difficult not to call out to the court.
“It’s the toughest thing, because you know I’m always talking to him about the mental approach to the game, and iIm watching some things, watching some things happen out there happen,” he said.
Blake noted the bond they shared over the game has made them closer.
"It’s always basketball, but it’s always love between my dad," Blake said. "We’re always keeping in contact. But he’s always built me to be a better player, so I appreciate it."
In fact, his whole family was there that night in January, wearing customized Hinson jerseys. After the loss, he took time to take pictures and meet with them, even offering his game-worn shoe to a young fan. The relationship he has with them has helped shape who he is today, his mother said.
“It means everything. It makes him who he is," Shandrice said. "He’s a good kid, I’d get the credit, but his credit also deserves to go to his family as well.”
And the support has made him a better player as well.
“I think it’s giving him that confidence, and being there and supporting him mentally and physically, I think that really helped him to be the guy who he is today,” Denny said.
Because it's not often he gets to play at home, but when he does, he relishes the opportunity to perform in front of the Hinson family.
“I’m estatic when I’m around them, win or loss," Blake said. "But it’s just fun for them to see my talent and to showcase in front of all the fans."