LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Kyle Hines had to make adjustments yesterday - to where he was playing, with whom he was playing, and who was watching him.
A native of Sicklerville, Gloucester County, and a former star at Timber Creek High School, Hines played college basketball at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, which is in the Southern Conference.
This week, he is competing with players from much more prominent programs in the NBA's predraft camp in hopes of being picked on June 26.
Looking at some of the famous faces in the crowd yesterday at Disney World's Milk House gymnasium, Hines finally realized the magnitude of his accomplishment.
"I was on the bench, and during the game, I was looking at Larry Bird and Larry Brown, and I just started thinking, 'Wow! This is amazing,' " Hines said. "I'm from a small-town school, and we don't have a lot of big-time people come around. So all of this is kind of different for me."
At 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, Hines has made a name for himself in NBA circles with his powerful physique and his willingness to mix it up with much bigger players.
He was a first-team selection last month at the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational for draft hopefuls. That earned him a spot in this week's predraft camp and a chance to prove himself to NBA executives such as Michael Jordan (Bobcats), Bird (Pacers), Elgin Baylor (Clippers), Mitch Kupchak (Lakers), and Brown (Bobcats) in attendance.
The predraft camp is designed specifically for players like Hines, who are working to improve their stock. The top players, such as Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo and Kevin Love, aren't working out and will attend today only for physicals and a session with the media. But for Hines and others in his position, the four-day event represents an opportunity to push into the draft.
Even stranger for Hines than playing before the likes of Jordan and Bird was having to switch positions during the biggest week of his basketball life.
A power forward throughout his four seasons at UNC-Greensboro, Hines had to play small forward yesterday, and his lack of familiarity with the position showed. He shot only once in 13 minutes and was one of only two players who failed to score. But he did what he often does best by grabbing four rebounds, swatting away a shot, and delivering five hard fouls.
Still, the move to small forward was a shock. Hines knows if he's going to make it in the NBA it will likely be as a defensive-minded small forward. He drilled the last two months to improve his ballhandling skills and face-up jump shot, but he said it was still a work in progress.
"It's an adjustment, and it's going to take me time," Hines said. "For 10 years, I've been so used to playing with my back to the basket. It's hard to make that transition [to small forward] in two months. I've made progress in these last two months. In my four years at UNC-G I took maybe 10 jump shots, so this is a big transition for me."
Hines' teammate here, former North Carolina shooting guard Danny Green, said he has encouraged Hines not to shy away from making plays - whether he's on the wing or in the post.
"He's a really strong kid with big hands who knows how to play, but he's kind of quiet, and I'm trying to get him to open up," Green said. "He seems sort of timid out there on the court, like he doesn't want to make mistakes. But he can really block shots, and I've tried to get him to relax."
Hines has workouts set up with Cleveland, Boston and San Antonio, with others possible in Washington and New Orleans. But for now, he's just trying to show NBA people that he is a versatile player willing to do what it takes to stick in the NBA.