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Wolf Pack player review: K.J. Hymes scratched the surface of his potential

K.J. Hymes
K.J. Hymes showed his vast potential in his freshman season. (Byrne Photo/Nevada athletics)

With the Nevada basketball season ending prematurely due to the coronavirus, we will recap the season of every scholarship player on the Wolf Pack’s roster and preview what is to come next season for that player. The players will be chronicled in alphabetical order. Today’s player: K.J. Hymes.

K.J. Hymes

2019-20 stats: 4.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 53.2 FG%, 33.3 3PT%, 64.2 FT%

Best game: Hymes reached double-figures in scoring three times, his season high coming at Colorado State, a game the Rams won at the buzzer. Despite Nevada losing that contest, Hymes was excellent. The 6-foot-11 center had 13 points, three rebounds and two blocks while making 6-of-7 shots, including one of his two made 3-pointers this season (his only miss in the game came on a late dunk attempt at the rim). Hymes also was able to stay out of foul trouble and logged a personal-best 21 minutes in that contest.

Season in review: Hymes was voted the preseason freshman of the year in the MW, which put some undue expectations on him. He got off to a slow start to the season, in part because he struggled to stay out of foul trouble. In Nevada’s first 18 games, Hymes averaged 3.0 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game while making 43.2 percent of his shots. In the Wolf Pack’s final 13 games, Hymes averaged 5.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game while making 62.5 percent of his shots. That second part of the season showed Hymes’ potential and why the coaching staff is so excited about his future. Hymes didn’t exactly have a breakout freshman season, but he had a big impact in his minutes.

Number to note: 0.115 – Among all Nevada players, Hymes had the best points per possession difference when on the court. Nevada averaged 1.07 points per offensive possession when Hymes was on the court (third on the team) and held opponents to 0.96 points per defensive possession when he was on the court (tied for third on the team). Nevada was 0.115 points per possession better when Hymes was playing, tops on the team (Jazz Johnson was second at 0.104). In short, Nevada was roughly 8.6 points better than its opponent over 40 minutes when Hymes was on the court. His biggest issue was foul trouble. Hymes was limited to 13.8 minutes per game due to fouls. He averaged 9.7 fouls per 40 minutes, almost twice as much as the next closest rotation player.

A look ahead to next year: Hymes came off the bench as Nevada’s backup center last year, although he was the team’s most productive big man on a per-minute basis. Starter Johncarlos Reyes is departing after exhausting his eligibility but that doesn’t mean the job is Hymes. Oregon State transfer Warren Washington, who is 7-foot and 215 pounds, redshirted this season at Nevada and will vie for the starting center position. Hymes still has meat to put on his bones. If he does that and avoids the foul trouble that plagued him this season, he could double his averages next season, but he has competition for playing time.

Columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at crmurray@sbgtv.com or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.

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