CHN writer Jon Teitel has yet another installment in his player interview series, this time talking with Charleston Southern great Ben Hinson. Originally an NC State signee, Hinson ended up at Charleston Southern where he went on to become the best player in school history.
Jon Teitel: Your family has a very impressive athletic lineage. Your sister Priscilla also went to Charleston Southern and led her team in scoring, while your cousin Roy Hinson was an 8-year NBA veteran. Was it a coincidence that you had such an athletic family, or do you credit at least some of your success to genetics?
Ben Hinson: I think some of it is genetics and some of it is hard work.
JT: Why did you choose to attend Charleston Southern?
BH: I was recruited by several ACC and Big Ten schools and signed a partial scholarship to play at NC State under Coach Jim Valvano, but after they won the 1983 NCAA title, I got pushed to the backburner by some other recruits. I was in limbo because most other schools had already signed all of their recruits, but one of my coaches told me about this school down in Charleston, and I decided to give it a shot.
JT: In 1986 you were an All-American. Did you feel like you were one of the best players in the country?
BH: At the level we were playing at, I felt like I was one of the best. Once we finally started getting some recognition, I felt like I was 1 of the top 20-30 players in the country.
JT: In 1986 and 1987 you won back-to-back conference tourney MVP awards. How were you able to play your best when it mattered the most?
BH: We were playing very well as a team. The Big South was just starting out back then. Some teams were coming from Division II, but we had already established a powerhouse in Charleston, so we were favored during those two years. We played well down the stretch, and only lost two conference games in each of those two years.
JT: In 1987 you were named conference Player of the Year. What did it mean to you to win such an outstanding individual honor?
BH: I actually thought that I should have won it back-to-back, but it was hard to get in the limelight on such a solid team.
JT: You graduated as the all-time leading scorer in school history. Did you realize at the time how prolific a player you were?
BH: Not really; my friends used to joke with me about how I was able to score so many points without a three-point line, which only came into existence during my senior year. I played against some teams that had experimental three-point lines, and since I was a long-distance shooter, I think I could have easily scored 2,500 PTS if I had played with a three-point line for all four years.
JT: You played one season with Golden State. Do you have a favorite memory from your brief NBA career?
BH: Back then the draft was several rounds; I was drafted in the seventh round, and I thought it was great. I had scouts coming to watch me starting in my junior year. It was Coach George Karl's 2nd year at Golden State, but Chris Mullin and Sleepy Floyd were already there and I had seen them on TV all the time. It was really overwhelming for me: it very exciting just to be traveling with them.
JT: You played two years with Rochester in the CBA. What did you learn from the experience, and how did it compare to the NBA?
BH: I blew out my knee over the summer, and the CBA was just starting that fall, so that is why I ended up there. It was like night and day; the salary went way down (sometimes we did not get paid at all), and it was not fun to travel in the snow. Just as I was finally getting healthy, Golden State picked up Mitchell Wiggins to play guard, so I figured I was done. It was not fun in the CBA, so I walked away from pro basketball.
JT: You currently serve as a volunteer assistant coach at Wingate University. How do you like the job, and what do you hope to end up doing in the future?
BH: I played in some summer leagues in Charlotte just to stay in shape, and I ran into Wingate's then-coach Jeff Reynolds. We got to talking, and he asked me to come out and help give some pointers to the players, and I love working with kids. My day job is as a quality manager with a company where I have been for over a decade, so I am not really hunting for a coaching job, but I may think about it if something serious comes up.
JT: When people look back on your career, what do you want them to remember the most?
BH: I want them to remember hat I was a great athlete, a great student of the game, loved working with people, and would help people in any way possible to improve their lives and succeed.
BIG SOUTH'S FANTASY BEST
Charleston Southern: Ben Hinson (1987): 2,295 PTS (#1), 45.7 3PT% (#2), All-American, conference POY
Coastal Carolina: Tony Dunkin (1993): 2,151 PTS (#1), 721 REB (#4), 52.1 FG% (#4), All-American, 4-time conference POY
Gardner-Webb: George Adams (1972): 2,404 PTS (#1), 1,113 REB (#1), 60.3 FG% (#1)
High Point: Arizona Reid (2008): 2,069 PTS (#1), 1,013 REB (#1), 2-time All-American, 2-time conference POY
Liberty: Karl Hess (1980): 2,373 PTS (#1), 648 AST (#1), 89.8 FT% (#1)
NC Asheville: Josh Pittman (1998): 1,549 PTS (#4), 175 STL (#2), 2-time conference POY
Radford: Doug Day (1993): 2,027 PTS (#1), 401 3PM (#1)
Virginia Military: Reggie Williams (2008): 2,556 PTS (#1), 820 REB (#4), 196 3PM (#4)
Winthrop: Charles Brunson (1982): 1,850 PTS (#1), 913 REB (#1), 61.3 FG% (#2), 2-time All-American