Bill Trocchi
Thursday January 17th, 2008

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- UNC Greensboro coach Mike Dement turned to an assistant during the Spartans' battle with UT-Chattanooga last week and said, "How'd he do that?"

Dement became awestruck as he watched senior Kyle Hines come out of nowhere to block what appeared to be an easy dunk by Chattanooga 6-foot-10 forward Matt Gwynne and start a fast break.

And the thing is, Dement has been watching Hines for three years. "He still does things that surprise me," Dement said.

Earlier this season Dement surprised Hines by letting him know that he is close to be coming part of an elite group. After a stellar four years, the 6-6 post man is closing in on 2,000 career points, 1,000 rebounds and 300 blocks. Before practice one day, Dement read off the five NCAA players who have accomplished that feat (blocked shots were added as an official stat in 1985).

Pervis Ellison. David Robinson. Alonzo Mourning. Tim Duncan. Derrick Coleman.

"I was shocked," Hines says. "I knew it was an elite club. But I didn't know it was that elite. Those are some of the greatest players of all time."

Coming out of Timer Creek High in Sicklerville, N.J., Hines received just two Division I scholarship offers: Rider and UNC Greensboro. Hines signed with coach Fran McCaffery, but after his freshman year, McCaffery was hired away by Siena.

During the three-week coaching search, other schools tried to lure Hines away, but he felt comfortable at Greensboro. Dement came in and hit it off with Hines, and the two have worked well together for three years.

For four years, Hines has faced double-teams every time he gets the ball. In the season-opener this season, Georgia Tech tried to handle Hines with one man, and Hines scored 25 points in an upset victory. No team has dared since.

With the double teams comes some physical play as opponents continually try to push Hines away from the basket. But through it all, Hines remains stoic on the floor, revealing no emotion and never talking with officials or opponents.

"We foul him. We hack him. We push him. We shove him. And he never says boo," said Chattanooga coach John Shulman. "He continues to play his guts out."

As quiet as he is on the court, he's almost as unassuming off it. Hines is described as laid back and down-to-Earth by teammates, and Hines admits he said next to nothing as a freshman. As a Communications major, however, Hines said he is "sort of forced to talk." Hines writes a weekly blog -- the toughest part of is to recognize all his teammates and coaches who are hoping to get mentioned.

After he graduates, Hines will be invited to some pre-draft camps, but he will likely need to play a few seasons in Europe before the NBA takes a look at him. Dement said Hines has the work ethic and athletic ability to develop the necessary skills, and Hines says he is simply going to keep playing for as long as he can.

Before he leaves Greensboro, however, the school will thank him for his remarkable career by retiring his jersey in the second-to-last home game of the season. Teammates say Hines is embarrassed by the attention, but he appreciates the school taking the time to honor him.

"Even though I'm happy about my jersey being retired, I'd rather have a championship banner," said Hines, whose team is 3-3 in Southern Conference play and 9-6 overall. "We could make it a whole banner year."

Chattanooga is off to a 7-0 start in the Southern Conference, beating Greensboro and Hines 78-73 along the way. The schedule will get much tougher for the Mocs, who have played five of their first seven conference games at home. Chattanooga will face Appalachian State and Davidson in four of its next five games. ... Illinois State and Drake both picked up wins on Wednesday are on a collision course for a big matchup Saturday. The Redbirds and Bulldogs, picked fifth and ninth respectively in the Missouri Valley, are 6-0 in league play... Butler has a chance to move into a tie for first in the Horizon League on Thursday night against Cleveland State, which is a surprising 5-0 in league play after a 65-63 win over Wright State on Saturday. Cleveland State was picked to finish ninth in the 10-team Horizon League. ... With wins over George Mason and Old Dominion last week, Delaware is the surprise co-leader atop the CAA at 5-1. ... In the Atlantic Sun, Belmont and Lipscomb added another chapter to their historic rivalry with Belmont's 99-91 double-overtime victory on Saturday. The two Nashville schools are just a few miles apart and have had wars that date back to both schools' days in the NAIA.

If you've been following this space, you are well aware Grambling and New Jersey Institute of Technology are staging a battle to avoid being the final winless team in the nation. Grambling came about as close as you can to winning on Monday night, before losing in overtime at Alcorn State 72-68 to drop to 0-11. The Tigers face Texas Southern (4-12) on Saturday and Prairie View A&M (2-13) on Monday. NJIT did not come nearly as close, losing 64-33 to Cornell at home.

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