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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Kelvin Sampson: "Nate's going to be really good."

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October 16, 2018 -- 9:43 a.m. CDT

Nate Hinton is a highly-touted freshman guard / forward on this year's Houston Cougars men's basketball team. During his high school career, Nate (6'5", 210) scored 2,217 points; helped lead his team to consecutive state semifinal appearances; and, Nate was named Gaston Gazette Player of the Year.

Hinton's high school year is over. Now, it's time for Hinton's college career to begin. Monday, October 15, Hinton was tabbed the American Athletic Conference Preseason Freshman of the Year.

Kelvin Sampson, Houston Cougars head men's basketball coach, didn't have much to say about the Preseason Freshman of the Year honor; however, Sampson does believe Hinton has a bright future.

"I think that speaks to Nate's summer that he had before we signed him," Sampson said. "Nate had a tremendous summer. He played on the adidas circuit. Kind of blew up. Heavily recruited kid.

"The thing I love about Nate is that he's humble. He's hard-working."

The Coogs' first official practice this season was two weeks ago; and, seeing a few minutes of practice, I saw Nate has potential. He's solidly built; and, he has a variety of skills.

"We started practice October 2nd, Sampson said." "And, I thought he had, by far, his best practice Saturday (October 13) over at TSU. We practiced at Texas Southern on Saturday. It was his best practice. The thing that helps him, though, is our seniors. You can't win without senior leadership. Last year, it was Wes (Wes VanBeck); Rob (Rob Gray); Devin (Devin Davis); and Nura (Nura Zanna). Those four seniors were critical to that team's success. Just like this year with Galen (Galen Robinson, Jr.); Corey (Corey Davis, Jr.); and Breaon (Breaon Brady).

"That's what programs do. They pass it down to the next class," Sampson continued. "This year's junior class will be next year's senior class."

Clearly, Coach Sampson knows more about basketball than I do; but, Sampson is excited about Nate's potential.

"I'm excited about Nate. He's a versatile kid," Sampson stated. "He doesn't really have a position. I think he can play four positions. I think he can play the one, two, three, or four -- if we wanted to go small because he can rebound. But, he's just got to keep growing.

"Freshmen don't know what they don't know," Sampson said point blank. "The key is to get them to understand that. It's a process; but, Nate's going to be really good."

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