Although Charles Hinkle had a great senior season at AU, he needed a little help getting the necessary exposure to chase his dream of playing professional basketball.
So Hinkle jumped at the opportunity to play in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament March 11-14 in Portsmouth, Va.
“I thought it was a good opportunity to showcase my skills and play with such great talent,” Hinkle said. “It has always been my dream to get paid to play basketball, and I feel like playing in the PIT was just fun, another step to get closer to my dream.”
The PIT is an invitation-only tournament that showcases 64 of the best seniors in college basketball. Multiple PIT participants get drafted to the NBA each year, and there are dozens of overseas scouts on hand as well.
“There were a lot of scouts, a lot of people watching and a lot of talent there,” Hinkle said. “It was just another opportunity to show everyone my talent and to be regarded as one of the top seniors in the country. It was just a good experience.”
AU Head Coach Jeff Jones was also on hand for the first few days of the PIT.
“I think the big thing for Charles is that he got the exposure,” Jones said. “If he gets a foot in the door, I think he’s got a great chance to have a terrific career.”
Hinkle was the lone Patriot League representative, and the second-straight Eagle to play in it after Vlad Moldoveanu participated last year.
Hinkle reached out to the former Eagle star for advice leading up to the invitational.
“We’ve been texting a lot, especially these last couple of weeks,” Hinkle said. “We’ve just been talking about the whole process. He’s definitely been a big help and has been mentoring me along the way.”
One step of that process is hiring an agent, and Hinkle has chosen David Lee Services. The agency represents NBA stars such as Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza.
Another step is continually working out, now that Hinkle doesn’t have any more showcases to participate in.
“Anyone who has known Charles knows he’s not afraid of hard work and he’s going to be working really hard,” Jones said. “That’s going to be key, to stay sharp and stay in shape because you never know when the potential opportunity will arise.”
Since Jones has coached a plethora of professional basketball players and been through the process multiple times, he is able to give some insight on the best way to go about the process.
“I think, if you have the right approach and the ability – and Charles certainly has the ability – the big thing is in my opinion to not be so worried about how much money is in that first contract,” Jones said. “I think the big thing is finding a place where he can fit, a place where he can get a good start on his professional career.”
Finding that place where he can fit will be a process similar to how Hinkle chose AU, something he feels worked out well.
“Coming to AU, I was kind of forced to score more,” Hinkle said. “By coming here, I had a better opportunity to show what I had and perform at as high of a level as I could. It was definitely a good experience playing at AU.”