K.J. Hymes, whose versatility creates a matchup nightmare for opponents, discussed his development, on-going recruitment and potential commitment date with Campus Insiders.
K.J. Hymes exudes a quiet confidence that fits his game perfectly. He speaks in a tone not too forceful but with an assurance that the growing hype surrounding his basketball abilities is warranted.
The 4-star 2018 prospect from St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix stands 6-foot-10 and currently holds 15 scholarship offers. He uses his frame to thrive in the paint but possesses a solid perimeter game that extends to the 3-point line. Success and attention, however, do not make Hymes immune to criticism.
So when a fellow Twitter user recently tried to poke holes in his game, Hymes handled the jab in a mature manner and took it in stride.
“All great players have a lot of hate,” Hymes told Campus Insiders. “I mean, people hate on LeBron James. It comes with it. It’s just something you have to learn to endure and get over. That’s what I’m doing right now.”
That confidence is why Hymes, whose given name is Kwame after his father who played at Pepperdine in the 1990s, continues rising in the national rankings. Count USC’s Andy Enfield, Cal’s Cuonzo Martin, Virginia’s Tony Bennett and BYU’s Dave Rose as just a handful of college coaches from across the country who are pursuing him.
Hymes hones his game during the high school offseason in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League with the Las Vegas Prospects, a team that last year featured Oregon signee Troy Brown Jr. and USC signee Charles O’Bannon Jr. Playing with the two McDonald’s All-Americans gave Hymes an opportunity to learn from fellow stars a year older than him.
“A big reason I decided to play with the Prospects was because Chuck and Troy, they were two highly recruited guys and I need to get that alpha mentality,” Hymes said. “You can’t learn to be a big dog unless you can blend in with them.”
Propsects coach Derek Thomas, the former Western Illinois head coach who also has spent time as an NBA scout, sees the full scope of Hymes’ potential. Thomas used his player’s versatility to create problems for bigger opponents who couldn’t match his speed and smaller defenders who had issues guarding Hymes near the basket.
“When you see a guy that size who has the skill level to step outside – and he can run the floor – those are things that obviously are going to jump out,” Thomas told Campus Insiders. “At the next level I think he’s going to get more comfortable to being outside, and then if (he) needs to (he) can use his ability to go inside.”
Playing with a stacked roster for the Prospects is far different than excelling for St. Mary’s, where Hymes is the focal point of opponents’ defensive game plans. Hymes is a consensus top-five player in Arizona because he’s still able to thrive despite the constant attention.
The next major step is choosing a school that fits his style. He plans to trim his list of schools within the next month and making a final decision after the EYBL season, which will be around September.
“I want to go into (my senior season) just relaxed and know where I’m going to go,” Hymes said.
And the school that lands Hymes will be getting a talented, confident player.
“I just try to get in with the mindset that nobody can guard me,” Hymes said. “I have to go in saying, ‘I can score every time I touch the ball.’ If not, I’m creating something for somebody else.
“I feel like I’m a mismatch for anybody.”