Justin Hinrichsen doesn’t spent a whole lot of time thinking about it.
“It just happens,” the 6-foot-3, 165-pound Grade 10 guard/forward with Victoria’s Spectrum Thunder admits when asked how his rare combination of athleticism, talent and instinct has managed to intersect in such a timely fashion just weeks into his first season of senior varsity hoops.
“I’ve just always tried to work my hardest, and I think for me, I just need to do that,” adds Hinrichsen, speaking on the phone from Duncan last week, just moments after producing a stat sheet—stuffing 31 point, 18 rebound, five assist, six steal performance over 43 minutes-played in an 88-84 overtime win over Campbell River’s Carihi Tyees in the opening-round of Cowichan’s Welcome Back Invitational.
“I just want to win and whatever that takes to do, that’s what I will do.”
Hinrichsen created his first real buzz last season by doing just that, scoring 38 points in the Thunder’s 68-64 win over Abbotsford’s MEI Eagles in the opening round of the B.C. junior boys championships at the Langley Events Centre, a tournament in which he averaged 22 points per game and helped his team to within a win of the provincial quarterfinals.
On Wednesday, he makes his return, this time for the opening round of the Tsumura Basketball Invitational’s first-ever Elite 8 bracket, one of three separate draws which will unfold through Saturday at the LEC as part of our largest-ever 32-team field.
Hinrichsen, along with fellow Grade 10-aged teammates Tyler Felt and Justin Le, will oppose East Vancouver’s Sir Charles Tipper Tigers in a 3:30 p.m. game at the LEC’s South Court.
Also on tap: The Super 16 and Langley 8 draws (full schedules included below).
Oh, and about that all-too-familiar surname?
Justin Hinrichsen is indeed the son of Eric Hinrichsen, the former all-everything high school sensation at the aforementioned Carihi, who led his team to the B.C. Double-A title exactly 30 years ago this March. The elder Hinrichsen later played for the UVic Vikes where he was twice honoured as the Mike Moser award winner as the nation’s top university men’s player. He’s the last Vikes’ player to cop the award, also suited up for Canada in the 2000 Olympic Games and enjoyed a pro career overseas.
And Justin’s mom Tricia (nee Fieldhouse) is also a former student-athlete of note having played for the UVic soccer team during her time in the CIAU.
“I had seen (Justin) a bit in middle school and he was a big kid, a good player, someone who did a lot of things well but wasn’t a go-to guy,” remembers’ Spectrum head coach Tyler Verde. “Then he came in last season as a Grade 9 and he is this amazing scorer, and one of the best rebounders I had seen… he had this knack for the ball. I am sure some of it is genetic.”
Yet speak to the teenage Hinrichsen for any amount of time and it’s immediately clear that over and above any so-called inherited traits is an absolute love for his sport, one of which has sprung organically through a supportive and non-pressurized family environment.
Growing up, Eric Hinrichsen was named The Province’s 1993-94 preseason B.C. senior boys basketball Player of the Year by some crusty, old sportswriter at The (Vancouver) Province.
Later that year, in one of the newspaper’s most enduring full-page high school articles (partially pictured below), he joined Terry Fox Ravens’ point guard Vic Grigore, Handsworth Royals’ guard Jeff Sharma, Richmond Colts’ forward Andrew Mavis and Terry Fox big man Dave Morgan as a part of my end-of-season 1993-94 B.C. Dream Team.
Eric Hinrichsen was also named the MVP of the 1993 B.C. Double-A championships as he, and fellow teammates and all-stars Ray Wilson and Greg Bateson led the Tyees past Ladysmith in the title game, interestingly enough played in Langley at Walnut Grove Secondary.
Yet ask Justin how much his dad brings up his past in their many talks about the game, and the answer may surprise some.
“He doesn’t,” says the younger Hinrichsen, also a budding rebounder of note (he averaged 20 points, 9.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists at Welcome Back), whose capabilities with the carom befit an offspring of the Vikes’ all-time leading rebounder (10.1 career rpg). “He doesn’t talk about what he’s done in the past very often. He’s pushed me and helped me grow in basketball for sure. He will rebound for me when I want to shoot and he’ll give me tips. I get a lot of my athleticism from my mom, and from my dad, too. Overall, both of my parents have been very supportive.”
With that solid support system to lean on, Hinrichsen has embarked on his own path fuelled by a pure love of the game.
Verde especially sees it in any time there’s a ball up for grabs.
“It’s like the shot goes up and all of a sudden he’s just there and gets the rebound,” says the coach, whose charges continued their roll at the Cowichan tournament last week with an 83-62 tourney semifinal win over the Nanaimo District Islanders, and later a 97-64 win over Nanaimo’s Wellington Wildcats in the Welcome Back final.
“Against Carihi, I don’t think Justin gave up a single rebound,” continued Verde. “He just finds a way to get it. If there’s a ball poked loose, he’s there. He has a knack to see the game like not many others do and he is still just in Grade 10.”
With both the talented 6-foot-5 Felt (Welcome Back tourney averages of 18.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg) in the post and the steady Le, who hit all the big shots to force overtime in the opener, working in concert with Hinrichsen, the Thunder are a team and a program on the rise.
Come Wednesday, they will test themselves within a TBI Elite 8 bracket which also includes Lord Byng, Brookswood, College Heights, Steveston-London, North Delta and King George.
Verde notes that Hinrichsen has the kind of frame that will be able to hold a lot more musculature as he matures and grows in both height and stature.
“But I think right now I am holding my ground just fine… some extra strength wouldn’t hurt. But I think I am doing all right with the weight,” he counters.
“I would love to just keep playing as long as I can,” he adds. “University, national team, however long I can… I would just love to do that.”
Semifinals in the Elite 8 draw will go at 6:45 and 8:15 p.m. Thursday at South Court, with the championship final tipping off 1:45 p.m. Friday on Centre Court.
The Elite 8 and Langley 8 draws will then be combined and re-seeded for the best remaining matchups, all to be played over eight games beginning 9 a.m. Saturday.
ELITE 8 AND LANGLEY 8 DRAWS
SUPER 16 DRAW
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