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'They know exactly where I fit in': Reigning national champion LSU offers Bella Hines

Jan. 5—Welcome aboard, LSU.

The start of the new year added a prominent new passenger to the Bella Hines' Division 1 offer bus, as defending national champion LSU earlier this week extended an offer to Eldorado High School's dynamic junior guard.

"This offer definitely means a lot," said the Eagles' 5-foot-9 Hines. "They are the defending national champs, and just to know I've worked so hard to be able to reach my goal ... "

Hines, New Mexico's best player, and one of the top recruits in the country, has 40 schools on her list.

But adding LSU has elevated a profile that already was high.

"To be recruited by one of the best teams in the country is great," she said.

LSU, Hines said, already has been recruiting and offering some of her club teammates, so perhaps this is no surprise that the Tigers are now officially among Hines' pursuers;.

The Tigers conveyed to Hines that they believe her playing style could mesh with LSU's style, she said.

"They know exactly where I fit in," Hines said.

And LSU's offer, she added, probably puts other schools on notice during the home stretch of her recruitment. Hines is already the most recruited girls basketball player the state has ever had.

"I know a lot of them reached out just to check," she said. "Like, 'Shoot, LSU offered her, so we have to make sure we're on our 'A' game.' "

The hometown New Mexico Lobos are one of the 40 programs that have offered Hines, and Hines said she most certainly has not ruled out UNM.

"They will always be one of my options just because it's my hometown," Hines said.

Hines on Dec. 23 made news for another reason. She poured in 53 points, an Eldorado single-game record, in a win over Rio Rancho.

Hines had scored 51 in a game last season; the 53 broke a 35-year-old Eagles record. And she missed her first four shots, she said, adding that she felt she hadn't played particularly well the night before against Albuquerque High.

"Coming into the Rio Rancho game, I had a chip on my shoulder and was ready to play," Hines said.

She said she wasn't even aware that she had broken the record until her mother in the stands let her know after a 3-pointer.

The Eagles are in the midst of a lengthy holiday break. They return to the court Tuesday, against Valley in the first round of the Albuquerque Metro Championships.

Eldorado is 7-2. Hines is averaging 33.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game.

LONG, BUT WORTHWHILE: Among the many prep basketball holiday tournaments last week, two were played in Juneau, Alaska, where the Albuquerque High boys and girls competed in the Princess Capital City Classic.

The Bulldogs won championships in both genders at the tournament. The boys won the title with a double-overtime victory over Juneau-Douglas High on the tournament's last day. The girls clinched the title also with a win over Juneau-Douglas.