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Friday, April 23, 2021

Men's Basketball

Nate Hinton looks to use UH lesson in NBA journey


Guard Nate Hinton looks to attack the basket against SMU in a game during the 2019-20 season |Lino Sandil/The Cougar

Houston guard Nate Hinton looks to attack the basket against SMU in a game during the 2019-20 season. | Lino Sandil/The Cougar

It did not matter if his team was up 30 or trailing by 30. If he was 0-10 shooting or 10-10, Nate Hinton always brought the highest level of energy and effort to the court.

The 6-foot 5-inch guard from Gastonia, North Carolina, always had a fire in his eyes and left everything on the court each time he took the court for Houston from 2018 to 2020 because of his hunger for success.

“I’ve always been that type of player but the older I get. and the more appreciative I get for the game, and more situations that I have to go through,” Hinton told The Cougar. “I just show them that hunger, that passion, because the game is going to have highs and lows, but it’s about how you bounce back from it.”

The energy and effort Hinton put in each and every night translated into establishing himself as a key bench player his freshman season, playing in all 37 of the Cougars’ games, which tied a Houston record for most games played in as a freshman.

After a solid freshman year, Hinton took a major step forward as a sophomore, establishing himself as Houston’s starting point guard and took on the role of being the team’s vocal leader.

And Hinton rose to the challenge, starting in all 31 of Houston’s games, averaging 10.6 points and  8.7 rebounds per game, which ranked fourth-best in the American Athletic Conference and also made his defensive presence known with 1.4 steals per game.

After a productive sophomore season, Hinton had to make the difficult decision of whether to return to Houston or enter the NBA Draft. And after talking to coaches, family and praying about it, Hinton ultimately decided to put his name into the NBA Draft.

Draft night did not go as planned for Hinton, as pick by pick went by without the guard hearing his name called, but things quickly changed minutes after the conclusion of the draft.

Shortly after, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and head coach Rick Carlisle called Hinton to say that Dallas was going to sign him to a two-way contract.

Hinton, surrounded by family and friends, immediately went on Instagram Live to announce the news and express gratitude for the opportunity he had just been presented with.

You gave a dog an opportunity to prove himself,” Hinton said on his Instagram Live.

Now that he has an opportunity to get his foot in the door, Hinton has a chance to prove himself to the NBA, which is all he asked for. Now he has that chance in Dallas and his goal simple.

“Show that I belong,” Hinton said. “It is something to prove to Dallas that I belong in the league and that 30 teams made a mistake for not drafting me, but at the end of the day, I got a team. I have a job, and I am going to make the best of this opportunity and do whatever it takes to establish myself.”

While the 6-foot-5-inch guard will likely not see much time for the Mavericks in his first season, there is one thing he can control and it’s something that he learned from his college head coach, Houston’s Kelvin Sampson.

Attitude and effort,” Hinton said. No matter what (the situation is) good or bad, attitude and effort. No matter the opportunity they give me, attitude and effort.” 

Andy Yanez contributed to the reporting of this story.

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