Hinton now on the other side as the hoop camp mentor


After 2020, we should be used to events that don’t go exactly as planned.

But some things still surprise you, like 12-year-old Brady Collins with her ponytail swirling behind her, like the shots she was shooting at Mavs Academy hoop camp on Wednesday.

It was Collins who could grow 5 feet tall if on tiptoe, who ended up at the last two players in the traditional Knockout game and her blind shot sent out 6-5 Mavericks rookie Nate Hinton on the sidelines, fun for the other 50 campers at Duncanville Fieldhouse.

Everyone is rooting for Goliath, right?

For Hinton, the University of Houston product swingman who spent last season on a two-way contract, it was his first adventure in the world of being the camp’s star attraction.

But it was clear he felt right at home participating with kids ranging in age from elementary to high school.

It’s because he’s been there before – on the other side. And not so long ago, one of his hometown heroes, Hall of Fame James Worthy, returned to Gastonia, NC for a camp attended by a wide-eyed Hinton.

“I smile just because I imagine myself as a young kid going to camp – I just saw a photo when I got home from basketball camp and it brings back memories,” said Hinton, 22. “Every time you see an NBA player at that age it’s a dream come true. James Worthy, he had a camp in Gastonia. I remember we had just come out of high school and I was in awe. And from that day forward, it was my goal to get to the NBA.

And to have days like Wednesday, where he could be a kid again while helping kids learn everything from the basics to the intricacies of shooting and handling basketball.

Hinton is one of the few Mavericks in Dallas, as most have dispersed to relax or return to their home countries to compete in Olympic qualifying tournaments.

Hinton’s job, however, takes place in Dallas after he makes a quick trip to North Carolina to decompress after the long season.

He only played 21 games for the Mavericks, but showed promise late in the season with eight points in a 20-point win over Cleveland, followed by an eight-point outing in eight minutes in an unbalanced loss. in Memphis.

Now, while watching the playoffs with an open mind trying to soak up as much information as possible, Hinton is preparing for what will be a busy summer.

“I’m going to set a standard for myself and I’m excited to take the next step,” he said. “Knowing where I stand, I am confident that I can take the next step. When I lower my head and grind, great things can happen.

“I took a little break, but couldn’t wait to go back. I am preparing for the summer league. This is what I’m headed for.

Of course, the Mavericks have a few details to work out before the Summer League starts in Las Vegas on August 8 – like hiring a general manager and head coach.

“I don’t know what to say about this,” Hinton said. “I’m just trying to control what you can control. Go to the gym, work out, and get ready. Be prepared to contribute to whoever comes.

“I know Mr. Cuban (owner Mark Cuban) does a great job trying to bring this organization back to this championship. And he will do everything in his power to make it happen.

His rookie season was interesting not only because of the ramifications of COVID-19 and his leap from the Mavericks to the G-League bubble for a dozen games. It also featured a proud moment when the Houston Cougars reached the Final Four before losing to eventual champion Baylor.

The Cougars had reached the Sweet Sixteen in Hinton’s freshman year before the tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus in its second season.

“It was amazing,” he said of the Final Four race earlier this year. “Before the season I knew Coach (Kelvin) Sampson had all the keys there and I knew they were going to do some great things. And they did. I am so proud of the guys.

Hinton, however, had to go his own way and that led him to Duncanville on Wednesday. Interestingly, this was not his first visit to this resort, having played an AAU tournament there when he was in high school.

And he was delighted to be back in the building.

“I see myself in each of these little kids,” Hinton said. “They come to camps and games and it gets personal. You see yourself in them. He keeps that young spirit and keeps that gratitude, because you were once that kid.

For more information on attending a Mavs Academy camp, visit mavs.com/community/basketballacademy.

Twitter: @ESefko

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