Sampson has high praises for Hinton after UCF win
Sophomore guard Nate Hinton finished Friday evening’s American Athletic Conference opener with 20 points, 16 rebounds and five steals as the Cougars defeated the Knights 78-63.
The strong performance came as no surprise for head coach Kelvin Sampson, who said he’s liked Hinton’s game since the first time he saw him play back when he was a junior in high school.
“When I recruited him, I said he’s gonna be a captain because he impacts winning in so many different ways,” Sampson said. “He impacts winning in practice. He impacts winning in the classroom. He impacts winning in the community.”
“Nate’s not a senior – he’s a sophomore, and he is going to continue to get better as he goes,” Sampson said.
Sampson’s high praise for Hinton extends beyond the 40 minutes on gamedays, and for the head coach, Hinton’s determination and his leadership is what makes him a perfect fit to represent the entire program at the University.
“If I could pick someone to be the face of University of Houston Cougar basketball, I’d want it to be Nate Hinton,” Sampson said as Hinton sat to his right.
Despite the strong complimenting words from Sampson, Hinton doesn’t see his role as a leader as anything that is an additional responsibility for him and instead put his focus on improving every single day.
“I love coach to death. He told me when he was recruiting me, you’re going to be a captain one day. “It’s going to be by my sophomore year, and you know I didn’t think nothing of it, it sound good, but I just stepped right into that role now,” Hinton said. “It’s just about getting better every day.”
For Hinton, his form of leadership is by setting a strong example for his teammates.
“If I don’t bring it, some of the other guys they look at me, and they say that’s just the culture of the program, (since) I’ve been here before,” Hinton said. “I just take what I learned from Corey (Davis), Galen (Robinson) and Breaon (Brady), and all those guys, and it’s a little bit of pressure but it’s just right into who I am. It’s nothing I got to do extra.”
With Friday’s win being only the first conference game of the season, the 6-foot-5-inch guard was quick to turn the attention to the fact that UCF was only one of 18 conference games.
“The mindset of our team is that this is a new season,” Hinton said. “Conference is a new beast… we are just taking it one game at a time. Every game is intense. Every game is basically a championship game. You got to be ready to go to war, ready to go to battle cause every team is good.”