Roughly 10 miles from the gyrating neon glitz of the Las Vegas Strip, where gamblers hope to seize a more lucrative future by splitting eights and wrestling one-arm bandits, two VCU Rams placed less volatile bets.
The present, and perhaps, futures, of former VCU teammates Juvonte Reddic and David Hinton intersected this week at the Nike LeBron James Skills Academy at the Cashman Center in Las Vegas. Rather than risk the mortgage on roulette, Reddic and Hinton logged long hours on career development.
For Hinton, it was just the latest stop in his summer as an event management intern for Position Sports, which works closely with Nike on its series of basketball summer development camps and other events. Since April, Hinton has zigzagged the country, from Brooklyn to San Diego to Oregon and parts in between. The VCU Center for Sports Leadership graduate, who spent five seasons with the men’s basketball team, helps set up, break down and manage events, which apparently includes fixing a lot of baskets.
“We’ve got a lot of 6-foot-9, 250-pound guys dunking,” he said.
The hours are long and largely anonymous, but Hinton says they’re rewarding. He hopes that down the road, all this will pay off and help him jump start his career.
Reddic likely shares Hinton’s sentiments on resume building this week, albeit for a slightly different career path.
He was one of just 23 college players invited to the exclusive, four-day camp that concludes Tuesday – one which is open to NBA scouts. Reddic’s invitation came after a successful turn at Nike’s invitation-only Big Man Skills Academy, which featured Amar’e Stoudemire and Anthony Davis, June 24-26 in Union, N.J.
On Monday, LeBron James participated in drills with college players, and it was reported that Reddic even guarded the four-time NBA MVP for a stretch. Hinton says he’s been able to watch much of the camp and believes his former teammate has acquitted himself well.
“He did great,” said Hinton, a 6-9 forward who played alongside Reddic from 2010-13. “Great energy, high energy. I know a lot of people tweeted about him, but he played well, in my mind. Ju competed very well and got lots of praises from the coaches and stuff.”
When they weren’t working, Hinton says he tried to give Reddic advice and offer support. But Hinton says he’s already seen growth in his friend. Both men hail from Winston-Salem, N.C. originally, and prior to Reddic’s freshman year at VCU, Hinton offered to work out with his future teammate. When Hinton picked up Reddic at his house, he found the 6-9 forward to be introverted to a fault. He says Reddic barely spoke. That hasn’t been the case this week, Hinton says.
“Now, he comes into the room and just talks,” Hinton said. “He’s matured a lot.”
Reddic has certainly caught the attention of certain members of the media. CBS Sports’ Seth Davis tweeted at one point Monday that Reddic was “in beast mode”. In another evaluative tweet, he relayed an NBA scout’s compliments on one of the VCU big man’s running hook shots.
From here, friends Hinton and Reddic will once again diverge. Hinton, who says he will spend all of three days in Richmond in July, is eying a trip to Washington, D.C. for Nike’s Global Challenge, which pits some of the best high school players in the country against international teams, July 17-21.
Reddic, meanwhile, will return to Richmond and take his place as one of the centerpieces of a VCU team that is already receiving the preseason top 25 treatment. After averaging career highs of 14.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last year, expectations for Reddic and the Rams will be high in 2013-14.
But whatever their current paths, and wherever they go from here, both Hinton’s and Reddic’s futures appear bright.