Cougars standout Nate Hinton confident as he pursues NBA dreams

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - MARCH 29: Nate Hinton #11 celebrates with Breaon Brady #24 of the Houston Cougars against the Kentucky Wildcats during the 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at Sprint Center on March 29, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) (2019 Getty Images)

HOUSTON – Nate Hinton knows that forgoing his final two seasons of eligibility is a leap of faith.

“I believe you have to be confident in yourself and abilities,” said the former Univerisity of Houston Cougars guard.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic cut the Coog’s season unexpectedly, Hinton led the team in rebounds and steals.

However, Hinton said the disruption left him with a numb feeling. He said he began to think about his next steps.

“My mind frame was all on coming back next year to have some more to prove,” he said.

However, Hinton said head coach Kelvin Sampson gave him the nudge to go pro.

“Coach Sampson came to me and said, ‘I think you should test the waters,’ and as I furthered the process I ultimately decided that this is what I needed to do,” he said.

Hinton said the advice speaks volumes about Sampson.

“It just says the type of coach that he is and the type of program that he established at Houston,” said Hinton.

Hinton said he set high expectations for himself. He trains in a gym at his dad’s church in North Carolina, as most of the gyms remained closed due to the mandatory shutdown.

Hinton said he will be starting from “ground zero” wherever he lands but is ready for the journey.

“I know what I am capable of doing, and I know what I’ve done. I’m not satisfied with what I’ve done. I’m appreciative of the process,” said Hinton

Hinton said he prayed about the decision, and he remembers the words of his now-former coach.

“Attitude and effort as Coach Sampson says," he said.