‘Just a kid from Sicklerville’

Brothers and professional international basketball players Kyle and Tyler Hines give back to their hometown with nonprofit basketball camp

Local youth have the opportunity to learn from and play with professional athletes Tyler (left) and Kyle Hines in the non-profit Team Hines Basketball Academy, held at Timber Creek High School.

The idea for a local non-profit program offering youth the opportunity to develop high-level basketball skills with professional athletes originated on a Whitman Diner napkin in 2010. One year later, the dream came true for brothers and professional athletes Kyle and Tyler Hines, alongside Timber Creek basketball head coach Rich Bolds, with the formation of the independent, non-profit program Team Hines Basketball Academy.

Brothers Kyle and Tyler were born into basketball. When Kyle was cut from the sixth-grade team, he decided he wanted to play the sport seriously — professionally. Tyler, four years younger than his brother, watched his sibling rise in local Gloucester Township Boys Basketball League championships — specifically those that were rewarded with tickets to Clementon Park — and made the decision to switch from baseball to basketball. As he played, he found a love for it, he said.

Years later, after finishing a 1,562-point career at Timber Creek High School in 2004, and graduating from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Kyle was undrafted by the NBA in 2008. That year, he signed with Veroli Basket in Italy where he spent two seasons and won two Italian Second Division Cups. From there, Kyle moved on to Brose Baskets in Germany, Olympiacos of the Greek Basketball League and Russian CSKA Moscow, a team he has been with since June 2013.

Tyler, also a 1,000-point scorer for Timber Creek, followed his brother’s footsteps to play professionally in Greece, Serbia, Germany and Cyprus, where he plays now with Enosis Neon Paralimni, a professional basketball club.

“We have a saying, ‘just a kid from Sicklerville,’ and with that, we’re trying to tell kids, ‘we are from here, we were able to do certain things and you guys can do that, too,’” Tyler said.

Kyle said Team Hines Basketball Academy, based in Sicklerville, was formed to teach young athletes not only basketball, but leadership, mentorship and life skills. Funds raised through the program are returned to the community through scholarships, AAU travel basketball programs, alumni events and more.

“If we can create an opportunity for kids here, then you never know who can become great from it,” Kyle said. “We never had that, we didn’t have anything like this. You never know how it’s going to change or affect any kid’s life.”

According to the website, www.teamhinesbasketball.com, the program is open to males ages 8 to 17 who participate in the AAU and U.S. Junior Nationals. This summer, more than 65 kids, male and female, ages 7 to 16, gathered in the Timber Creek gymnasium for a four-week summer camp. Within each program, students attend developmental clinics, hear from guest speakers, and receive individual instruction and sessions designed to enhance skills on the court and off.

“We want to instill in them work ethic,” Bolds said. “It’s great to have goals, but you have to work hard to achieve those goals. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

According to Kyle, the mission for the program was to give back to Sicklerville as it had to him his entire life. He, Bolds and Tyler still reside in the hometown, all within five minutes of each other.

“People ask me all the time, ‘why’d you come back to Sicklerville,’” Kyle said. “Sicklerville has done so much for me, I want to do so much more for Sicklerville. I could have gone anywhere coming back from overseas, but I chose to come home.”