Good For Him: Nate Hinton Will Test The NBA Waters

I’m happy for Nate Hinton.

The 6’5″ sophomore declared for the NBA Draft Sunday night while retaining his option to return to UH. What an opportunity for a 20-year old to get feedback from NBA GMs and scouts. Ultimately, I think Nate will see what is said in the evaluations and will come back to UH for a junior season that could be quite special.

Hinton is the glue on this UH team – he led the Coogs in three-point shooting percentage, steals, and in rebounds (and offensive rebounds!). All that from a 6’5″ guard. He’s vital for next year.

While he’s an incredible player, always willing to do the little things that make Kelvin Sampson’s program tough and efficient, I don’t think he will get a first-round evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee (UAC). And that’s why I think he comes back.

According to the NBA:
The UAC invites groups of NBA teams to submit confidential evaluations on each player who applied for feedback from the UAC. They collect and compile the evaluations and provide that information to each applicant. That feedback is on how NBA teams evaluate him on an aggregated and de-identified basis but no information will be provided relating to a particular team’s evaluation of the applicant.

In the NBA Draft, all first-rounders get a guaranteed contract while teams are not required to offer guaranteed money to second-rounders. Last year, the top four picks of the second round received guaranteed contracts for 3 years each. After that, it was a grab bag: a bunch of guys went overseas while others signed two-way contracts (meaning they’d likely be assigned to the G League at $75,000/year).

Nate Hinton from the corner / photo by Mario Puente

Nate is a level-headed guy that will make a smart decision. If he doesn’t see a first-round grade then coming back is the prudent option. He saw what happened with Armoni Brooks last year and, although there were outside forces at play, Brooks would have been best-served basketball-wise to come back.

Also, with Euro leagues in flux due to COVID-19, it would be surprising to see him risk it. There might not be a season in Europe, Brazil, China, or Australia in the next year.

I don’t know Nate’s heart but I do know he’s mature, smart, and patient. He’s not likely to jump just because an agent flashes some money. But even if he did, he was spectacular to watch these last two years. Watching him grow into a leader on the floor has been a real treat. I just hope we get at least another year of it.

Key Dates to watch:

April 16: underclassmen must apply in writing to the UAC for an evaluation.
April 26: early entry players must declare for the Draft by midnight.
April 28: those declared underclassmen may begin communicating with teams or participating in workouts with them.*
May 1: Combine and G League Elite Camp invites are sent out.
May 17-19: G League Elite Camp for 40 players that did not receive a combine invite.
May 19-24: NBA Combine
June 3: NCAA deadline for players to withdraw from NBA Draft
June 25: NBA Draft

We’re rooting for you, Nate.

Nate Hinton in 2018 / Photo by Mario Puente