Tevin Hammond walked into a great situation when he joined the Arkansas-Pine Bluff men’s basketball team before the 2012-13 season.
The point guard had offensive factors in Lazabian Jackson, Mitchell Anderson and Daniel Broughton returning. Terrell Kennedy was healthy enough to play his final season with the Golden Lions. And Davon Haynes was finally given the green light to play after transferring from Bowling Green.
So Hammond, who spent his freshman season at Holmes Community College in Mississippi, had plenty of scoring options to feed the ball to. He easily led the Lions in assists with 127 on the season while averaging 7.4 points per game — fifth-best on the team.
“He gets everybody involved,” UAPB coach George Ivory said. “He’s that kind of leader. His leadership is so valuable to our team.”
Now, with Jackson, Anderson and Kennedy having completed their eligibility, Hammond is the scoring threat. To him, it’s no pressure.
“I think it’s more me taking on a bigger role compared to last year’s team,” said Hammond, a 6-foot junior who prepped at Little Rock McClellan. “This year’s team, I have to make more plays and things of that nature. As far as scoring, I think it’s just me playing a bigger role.”
Hammond’s scoring average has nearly doubled — to 14.1 per game this season, which ranks seventh in the SWAC, but just 0.7 behind third-place Julysses Nobles, the former Arkansas Razorback who’s now at Jackson State. Hammond scored the game high in four of UAPB’s past six games, including a 30-point performance last Saturday in a 72-64 victory at Alabama A&M.
“I’ve pushed him to be more of a scorer because he has a lot of offensive ability,” UAPB coach George Ivory said. “He works so hard. You look up in the gym, and he’s shooting and shooting. I pushed him to be that guy.”
The gym work has helped. Hammond’s only a 36.1 percent field goal shooter, but that’s 5 percent better than last season.
“I think that’s the key to my success, when I was in the gym all summer getting my shots up,” Hammond said.
Hammond’s improvements aren’t limited to how well he shoots on the floor. He slashes to the basket more and creates plenty of free-throw opportunities as well.
A 76.5 percent free-throw shooter, Hammond went 6 for 16 from the field against A&M but converted 15 of 18 free throws. The previous game against Mississippi Valley, he converted 10 of 13 from the line.
His greater offensive play hasn’t kept him from being an impact player on both sides of the court. With 64 assists so far, he’s halfway to surpassing last season’s total, and his 3 steals per game ranks fifth in the SWAC.
Still, it’s his improved offense that allows Hammond to thrive in a role he shared with a big man last season.
“Terrell being a center, he was also all over the court,” said Haynes, whose 13.9 points per game is second on the team. “He was a floor general. We’ve got another floor general in Tevin Hammond. Being that floor general, you’ve got to be able to see everything on the floor.
“Somebody’s got to step in and fill that void, and he’s the perfect person to do it.”