A Google image search offers a clue. Accolades and scholarship offers provide another hint.
Evan Hinson is good at football and basketball.
As the two-sport standout transitions from Deltona High to the University of South Carolina, the future becomes clearer: Hinson knows where his focus will be, though he wants to play both sports for the Gamecocks.
“Football is the No. 1 priority,” he said. “I got recruited not as a basketball player, but as a football player. I’ve always played both my whole life. It’s nothing new. If I do get the chance, I will try to play both.”
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The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Hinson signed in February to play football for coach Will Muschamp. He moved in this month to begin attending classes and participating in summer workouts.
He was primarily a wide receiver in Deltona’s spread offense, also serving as a safety and defensive end. Hinson expects to be a pass-catching tight end at USC.
“I can make catches all over the field, down the middle, down the field, short catches, long catches,” he said. “I’ve never really played tight end. I just played wide receiver. I don’t really have a preference. I just like getting open. I can make big plays.”
Hinson caught 24 passes for 465 yards and six touchdowns as a senior for the Wolves, adding 35 tackles, five of them sacks, on defense. He earned Class 6A honorable mention all-state.
A big athlete, got really good ball skills, can stretch the field vertically. He’s got a big frame on him, a guy that can really catch the ball down the field.
Will Muschamp on Evan Hinson
He admits to being more well-known around town and Florida for his exploits on the basketball court, where he averaged 20.6 points and six rebounds per game as a senior. Hinson was named the Daytona Beach News-Journal’s Male Athlete of the Year, recognizing his accomplishments in both sports. He was the publication’s Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016, and was voted first team all-state – in basketball.
“That was simply because of my [football] stats, I felt like my impact on the game, I’d be first team,” Hinson said. “I have a big impact on the game as a football player. Sometimes I attract double teams, safety over top, all that type of stuff. It leads you to less stats, but you’re changing the game.”
His father, Denny Hinson, coached him in hoops at Deltona and was previously a college assistant at Florida Gulf Coast, James Madison, San Francisco and Bethune-Cookman. Being around the college game and playing in all-star settings against high-major basketball players helped prepare Evan to play the two sports at South Carolina, both said.
“He really wants to do both, but he understands college athletics more than a typical high school kid,” Denny Hinson said. “He understands he’s there on a football scholarship and football comes first. They’ve been very up front about that. If he’s able to do his academics, handle his football obligations, then basketball, he’s going to try it.”
Hinson first was a Miami commitment, picking the Hurricanes, in part, because coaches there were amenable to him playing both sports. The recruiting process was tough at first for Hinson, his father said, because he wasn’t sure which sport he was going to play.
“At one point it seemed like a win-win with the three major colleges in Florida – Florida, Florida State and Miami – all three recruited him, but Miami was the most flexible with him playing basketball and football,” Denny Hinson said. “When he got the OK that they would allow him to do that, it seemed like the place to go. When the coaching change happened, he opened up his recruitment. At that point South Carolina seemed like the best fit.”
Al Golden was fired as Miami’s football coach Oct. 25. Hinson decommitted Dec. 12, less than a week after Muschamp was hired to be the Gamecocks’ 34th coach.
His recruitment came down to Tennessee, Southern Cal and South Carolina. Hinson credited his relationship with Muschamp and tight ends coach Pat Washington as big reasons for his commitment. Proximity to home, academics and conference affiliation played a role, as did an opportunity to play football and basketball.
He could be a big-time player. Anytime he’s isolated with corners and safeties at the high school level, it’s really not fair. He’s developed a lot of good ball skills from playing basketball. He’s a special athlete. I really think he’s going to show what he’s got at the next level.
Denny Hinson on his son Evan
Bruce Ellington successfully navigated both worlds with USC. Whether or not Hinson can do the same will be up to him, basketball coach Frank Martin said.
“He’s on football scholarship, so he’s going to be with them here this summer and report to all their stuff, and go put the pads on and go butt heads,” Martin said. “From what I understand, he’s got a chance, if he handles business a certain way, he’s going to have a chance to play (football) from Day 1. Is he going to be physically and mentally up for basketball, like Ellington was? ... It’s hard. If he is, I’m perfectly fine with it and from my understanding from Will is he would be fine with it, too.”
USC’s football coaches have told him he’ll have to chance to play this season. Time will tell if his two-sport goals materialize.
“I’ve told him a lot about how demanding it is just to try to be a basketball player on that level and then competing with the athletes you’re competing against,” Denny Hinson said. “You’re competing against SEC athletes in football and then in basketball season you’re competing against big-time SEC basketball players. You’ve really got to be a special athlete to do that. I think he can pull it off.”
Staff writer David Cloninger contributed to this story
About Evan Hinson
Hometown/school: Delton High, Deltona, Fla.
Position: Tight end
Size: 6-foot-5, 230
Stats: Caught 24 passes for 465 yards and six touchdowns while making 35 tackles, including eight tackles for loss and five sacks, as a senior. In basketball, he averaged 20.6 points and six rebounds per game
Stars: A consensus three-star prospect