FLORENCE, S.C. – Senior guard Jarron Hinton, a native of Lima and a product of Elida Senior High School, has helped lift the Francis Marion University men’s basketball team to an 8-0 record and the program’s first national ranking in 18 seasons.
The Florence, S.C., institution is ranked 18th in this week’s National Association of Basketball Coaches (NCAA) Division II Bulletin Top 25 poll. The 8-0 start equals the program’s longest winning streak to open a season.
The Patriots are currently in Boca Raton, Fla., participating in the three-day Palm Beach Hoops Classic at Lynn University. Following a 69-56 win over Nova Southeastern University on Wednesday (Dec. 17), FMU faced Barry University on Thursday evening (Dec. 18) and the host school, Lynn, Friday at 7 p.m.
The 5-11 Hinton played two seasons (1999-2001) at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., before transferring to Francis Marion in 2002. When the FMU point guard went down with a season-ending knee injury in the fifth game of last season, Hinton took over the quarterback spot and produced the third-highest season assists total in team history with 145. His assists per game average (5.4) ranked second in the Peach Belt Conference and 23rd in the final Division II national statistics. He also averaged 6.1 points per game, while connecting on 31.5 percent of his three point field goal attempts and 75.9 percent of his free throws.
He helped lead a young squad (no seniors) to a 13-14 record – a record that included eight losses that were decided in the final 25 seconds, including three defeats on buzzer-beater baskets.
This season, Hinton has returned to the two-guard position, although he still takes over the point guard reins at times. He is averaging 7.8 ppg and 2.1 rebounds per game and has nailed half of his 20 three-point shots. He leads the team in assists (5.3 per game) and steals (20), and has accumulated 14 more assists than turnovers.
Earlier this season, he scored a career-high equaling 15 points in a 62-56 win over Presbyterian College, a squad that advanced to the Division II Sweet Sixteen in 2002-03.
FMU competes in the 12-member Peach Belt Conference, which consists of schools in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Francis Marion is a state-assisted institution with an enrollment of nearly 4,000 students.
Hinton is majoring in elementary education.
Following the Florida trip, the Patriots will break for Christmas and then play at Fayetteville (N.C.) State University on Dec. 30.