When Steve Lavin named Rico Hines to his specialized Red Storm coaching staff, he not only added one of the top player development professionals in the country, but something much more. Hines, who was Lavin's first recruit as the head coach at UCLA, is a living, breathing example of Lavin's legacy as a coach and mentor and serves witness to the fact that Lavin does not only develop future NBA pros, but prepares his student-athletes for careers beyond playing basketball.
Promoted within Lavin's staff in the Summer of 2012, Hines has been a pivotal member of a staff that has brought St. John's basketball back to national prominence. His on-court tutelage aided in the development of 2013 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year JaKarr Sampson, 2012 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year Maurice Harkless, the 15th pick in that year's NBA Draft, 2011 BIG EAST Most Improved Player Dwight Hardy, 2011 BIG EAST Sixth Man of the Year Justin Burrell, and 1,500-point scorer and 2014 All-BIG EAST first team selection D'Angelo Harrison.After three years mentoring Harrison, he became the first St. John's player since 2002 to earn the prestigious Haggerty Award (2014), which is presented annually to the top college basketball player in the metropolitan area.
Hines coaching contributions have helped the Red Storm to three postseason appearances in four years - the first NCAA Tournament in a decade in 2011, a postseason victory in the 2013 NIT, and a 2014 NIT berth. Hines' recruiting acumen assisted the staff in landing the country's No. 3 recruiting class in 2010-11, the No. 8 group in 2011-12 and the highest-rated recruit of the Lavin Era in Rysheed Jordan
Hines is a 2002 UCLA grad who completed his fourth season as a player/athletic development assistant and assistant coach for the NBA's Golden State Warriors during the 2009-10 season. He was first hired by St. John's legend and former Golden State executive Chris Mullin and worked extensively with Warriors' head coach Don Nelson, who retired in 2010 as the NBA's winningest all-time mentor.
"Rico is a talented, natural-born teacher and coach with a relentless work ethic. He is one of the true rising stars in the coaching profession," said Lavin. "His talents in on-court player skill development and his reach as a north-to-south, coast-to-coast recruiter are among the definite benefits he brings to our staff at St. John's."
In his role with Golden State from 2006-10, Hines, 36, worked closely on the court with players throughout the season to assist in their overall skill development and game preparation. Additionally, Hines was largely involved with the players' off-season training, having worked with several Warriors, particularly the guards, over the summers - a list that includes Baron Davis, Stephen Curry, Anthony Morrow, Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington and Matt Barnes.
"Rico Hines is a great addition to the St. John's program. He's done an outstanding job developing our younger players and has matured into a great assistant coach," said Nelson at the time of Hines' hire. Nelson became the NBA's winningest all-time head coach on April 7, 2010, and retired with 1,335 career victories.
Added Curry, who set the NBA record for most 3-pointers made by a rookie in 2009-10 with 133 and who was the runner-up for the league's 2010 Rookie of the Year award, "Rico Hines is a hard working, dedicated coach. When working out with Rico, he gives you a blueprint to what is going to improve your skill set while making you a more confident and able player. It was a pleasure to work with Rico and I feel that he was instrumental in the success that I experienced during my rookie year."
Golden State reached the 2006 NBA playoffs in Hines' first season, which marked the first appearance for the Warriors since 1994. The squad advanced to the second round, becoming the first No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in a seven-game series in league history.
"Rico Hines has a love and passion for the game that is unmatched," said Davis a 14-year NBA veteran and two-time All-Star. "He lives for the game and will always go the extra mile to help someone better their game. He is a players coach."
Under Hines' tutelage, Monta Ellis was named Most Improved Player in the NBA (2006-07) after elevating his scoring average from 6.8 points per game to 16.5, and Anthony Morrow became the first rookie ever to lead the NBA in three-point field goal shooting, hitting at a .467 clip (2008-09).
In addition to his work with Golden State's players, Hines worked closely with numerous NBA and collegiate players during the offseason in recent years - including Trevor Ariza, Hakim Warrick, Marcus Williams, J.R. Smith, Ryan Hollins, Brandon Bass, Glen "Big Baby" Davis, Darren Collison, Marcus Morris, Markeiff Morris, Antoine Wright, Jeff Pendergraph and Morrow - coaching and training individuals in preparation for the rigors of an NBA season.
Said Ariza of Hines, "He is phenomenal. He is going to get the best out of you every time you step on the court. Whatever he sees in the young kids, he is going to go out there and make sure they reach their full potential. That's just the type of person he is. When he played, he worked hard, and as a coach, he works even harder."
Hines received a bachelor's degree in history from UCLA in 2002, with a minor in African-American studies. While at UCLA, Hines was a five-year member of the basketball program (redshirt season was 2000-01), serving as team captain for his final three seasons, which included five Bruin NCAA appearances and four trips to the Sweet 16.
A native of Greenville, N.C., Hines prepped at St. John's at Prospect Hall in Frederick, Md., playing under two-time national high school coach of the year Stu Vetter.
Hines, who married actress Tichina Arnold-Hines in August of 2012, resides in Long Island City and Los Angeles.