Former Forestview, Gaston Day standout has impressive NBA preseason debut
By Richard Walker
A former Forestview High and Gaston Day School standout had a sparkling debut to his professional basketball career.
Nate Hinton, an undrafted free agent out of the University of Houston, had eight points, eight rebounds, four assists and one steal in 15 minutes of action off the bench for the Dallas Mavericks in their 112-102 Saturday night NBA preseason win at the Milwaukee Bucks.
“I’m just getting my feet wet, really,” Hinton told mavs.com in a postgame zoom news conference. “I haven’t played a game since March. Training and working out is great, but actually getting up and down and playing in an NBA game (is better).”
A 6-foot-5, 210-pound shooting guard, Hinton began his high school career at Forestview and is a 2018 Gaston Day School graduate who led the Spartans to a N.C. Indendent Schools Athletic Association runner-up finish in his senior year.
After two years at the University of Houston, Hinton declared for the 2020 NBA draft.
Though not selected, Hinton signed a two-way contract with the Mavericks shortly after the draft concluded.
He impressed his coach with his preseason debut.
“He’s aggressive,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle told mavs.com on a zoom news conference. “Defensively, he’s a physical tough defender that has good anticipation. I love to see a young player get in there and get a bucket. In his case, he got two buckets, and that really helps you get into the flow.”
One of Carlisle’s assistant coaches is 1986 Ashbrook High graduate Darrell Armstrong.
Hinton made his preseason debut late in the third quarter of Saturday’s game.
“We came back from a timeout and I was over there breathing hard, because that adrenaline was going,” Hinton said. “I wanted to go in the game, I’m excited, like, Milwaukee is one of the top teams in the East and I’m looking like, ‘Oh, shoot, this is really here.'”
Once in the game, Hinton said he quickly played the game he loves.
“It just felt like basketball,” Hinton said. “Rick Carlisle and the coaching staff have just given me great confidence. They tell me to just stay working and just keep getting better as a player.
“It’s more spacing on the court (than on the collegiate level), so there’s more opportunities to get into the paint and just make plays and just be a ball player. I work hard, and just being around guys like Luka (Doncic) and the vets in practice kind of makes it easier and makes it better for me to play and watch to see how the pace of the game is.”
Hinton’s eight-point night also included a huge play that blunted a Milwaukee comeback as he scored on a three-point play with 1:10 left to play after the Bucks had cut what had once been a 20-point Dallas lead to 107-100.
‘They were kind of coming back and I just knew we had to make a play,” said Hinton, who converted three of his six field goal attempts. “I caught the ball, (there was) a lot of spacing, so I went to the basket.”
Dallas plays again at Milwaukee on Monday night at 8 p.m.
“My story is still being written, and I;m not going to get too high and I’m not going to get too low,” Hinton said.