Iowa State Cyclones

New Iowa State basketball player left Ole Miss because of state flag

Then, a Mississippi State running back led to that flag's removal

Mississippi's Blake Hinson (0) is fouled by Mississippi State guard Quinndary Weatherspoon (11) at the Pavilion at Ole M
Mississippi’s Blake Hinson (0) is fouled by Mississippi State guard Quinndary Weatherspoon (11) at the Pavilion at Ole Miss, in Oxford, Miss. on February 2, 2019. Hinson transferred to Iowa State recently. (Bruce Newman, Oxford Eagle via AP)

This offseason, men’s college basketball players have transferred from Southern Utah to Boston College, from Georgetown to Arizona, from Kansas City to Maine.

That’s just three of the transfers whose last names start with ‘A.’ Almost 900 players have transferred out of Division I men’s programs this offseason, making it a normal one.

These things are almost always about things like playing time or coaching changes. However, a player is headed to Iowa State with a most-uncommon reason for transferring.

Blake Hinson, a 6-foot-7 junior-to-be, has signed with the Cyclones after playing for two years at Mississippi. It seems to be a good get for Steve Prohm, since his roster had been transfer-ravaged and he needed a forward. Hinson started 27 games for Ole Miss last season, averaging 10.1 points and 31.1 minutes. He entered the NCAA’s transfer portal two weeks. Why?

“To make a general statement, it was time to go and leave Ole Miss,” Hinson told the Daytona Beach News-Journal last week. He is from the metropolitan Daytona Beach area.

“I’m proud not to represent that flag anymore and to not be associated with anything representing the Confederacy.”

Soon after Hinson’s departure, the flag was gone as well. On Sunday, the Mississippi state legislature passed a bill to remove the state flag.

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The flag featured red, white and blue stripes with the Confederate battle emblem in the left corner. It had been used since 1894. Kylin Hill, a Mississippi State running back who led the Southeastern Conference in rushing last year, had recently vowed not to play again for the Bulldogs unless the symbol was removed from the flag.

“Either change the flag or I won’t be representing this State anymore,” Hill tweeted. “I meant that. ... I’m tired.”

Before long, nearly every NCAA coach in the state, including football coaches Mike Leach of Mississippi State and Lane Kiffin of Ole Miss, lobbied state legislators for the change.

The SEC quickly hopped aboard, saying the state of Mississippi wouldn’t be allowed to host any of the league’s championship events until the flag was changed, and the NCAA then said its postseason events wouldn’t occur in the state as long as the Confederate emblem remained on the flag.

The bill was passed Sunday night, overwhelmingly. Gov. Tate Reeves, who opposed the idea of changing the state symbol, signed the bill Tuesday.

There many people for many years who wanted that flag changed, seeing it as a symbol of racism and oppression. The change would have come. But it was a college football player’s adamant stance that sparked it to happen now.

Big 12 athletes at Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas have all had their recent says about racial issues. We all know what’s happened within the Iowa football program this month because former players spoke out.

As for Mississippi, “I think you can just make it really simple and say it’s Kylin Hill,” said ESPN’s Paul Finebaum. “I think, without Kylin Hill, that flag would still be flying and the state legislature would not have done what it did. The NCAA and the SEC were important. But people, a week ago even in the middle of the week, were saying that the flag is not coming down.

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“But once Kylin Hill trickled down to Mike Leach and Lane Kiffin and the women’s coaches and the basketball coaches and all of the other six schools that joined Mississippi State and Ole Miss, it became a domino effect.”

Hawkeye basketball player Jordan Bohannon tweeted this on Sunday: “College athletes have so much voice and impact, a lot of them across the country do not fully realize it! Keep speaking up!”

It looks like many more realize it now than just a few weeks ago. A running back at Mississippi State changed the playing field.

Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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