By Carlos Alvarez
Men’s basketball starting forward Zachary “Zach” Hinton’s high-octane play has him thinking of leaving California and heading to Florida. “I haven’t made up my mind, but I know I’ll be playing hard somewhere. I have some family in Florida, but I’m looking at other schools,” Hinton said.
With scholarship offers from Biola University and Jacksonville University in Florida, his goal is to continue to play at a four-year university. “I have been in Los Angeles my whole life, but I am going to go where I can continue to play. I can’t deny that leaving this area won’t be a big change in my life, but change is good,” Hinton said.
When it comes to change, all Hinton has to do is look at his mother Katrania Hinton who made a difficult choice when he was young. “I came to Los Angeles from Alabama to provide a better life and is something that has made us both strong,” Katrania said.
Katrania and Zach’s father separated when he was six years old, but his stepfather Frank Jacobs has been the male figure in his life. Even though he still talks to his biological father who lives in Alabama, Zach said that the one man who has been there for him is Jacobs.
Zach said that he was too young to really be effected by his parents’ divorce. While playing for LA Benjamin Franklin High School, Zach knew that playing basketball professionally was not just a dream.
“I always looked up to Kobe (Bryant) and LeBron (James), but my senior year in high school, I knew I could play in the next level. I have a long way to go, but I won’t stop working,” Zach said.
The hard work on the court had scouts from four-year universities following his play at Franklin, but his grades were not up to school requirements. “I had to make sure he graduated from high school. He had options, but he was too focused in his basketball,” Katrania said.
Zach did not dwell on his choices and was ready to continue his dream of playing basketball at Glendale Community College. A coach from Glendale scouted him during his senior year and Zach said that he felt that it was the best choice for him to continue to pursue his dream.
A last minute recruiting effort by then newly hired East Los Angeles College basketball Head Coach John Mosley changed all those plans. “Coach Mosley came knocking at my door to speak with me about Zach playing at ELAC. I thank him to this day for that. Zach went where he needed to go,” Katrania said.
After he talked to Coach Mosley Zach knew that ELAC was the right choice for him. “Mosley talked about building a basketball powerhouse at ELAC. I knew I had to be a part of something special,” Zach said.
After being hired, Mosley’s recruiting objective was to recruit some of the top local talent on the basketball court.
“I had to get players that knew the area. Zach was a local product. I knew that in my first year I had to recruit players that wanted to build a powerhouse program that wanted to put ELAC on the map. Zach was that player,” Mosley said.
After choosing to come to ELAC, Zach faced the reality of playing with other elite players at the college level, as he played limited minutes during his freshman year.
“At Franklin he was the star of the team. Coming to ELAC and playing with other talented players made him a better player and student,” Katrania said.
His play on the court was limited, but his work off the court improved from his time in high school. After just completing the required credits to graduate from Franklin, he made ELAC’s Dean’s list honor roll his freshman year.
“He is a very intelligent man, who comes to class and participates in all activities. I had him for my health class and he was great,” Athletic Director Al Cone said.
His quiet demeanor, but hard work comes from his mother and stepfather Jacobs who have always emphasized getting a higher education.
With the support of his parents and the coaching staff’s confidence in him, his play on the court reached a new level during his sophomore year. “We talked to him after his freshman year and told him some things we wanted him to work on,” Mosley said.
His play improved drastically. Hinton and teammate Aaron Cheatum carried this team all year. Zach was named to the All South Coast Conference North Division team, averaging 13.4 points and 9.5 rebounds a game while being the vocal leader in a young team.
“He has come a long way. Basketball is secondary to education, but I have to admit his play on the court is opening some eyes,” Katrania said.
After leading ELAC to its first conference title in 42 years, Zach said that he has grown to understand that there is life after basketball, but that basketball has given him the options to continue his education.
“I’m truly blessed and I thank God for everything that has happened to me, but I’m just getting started,” Zach said.
Katrania said that she is excited for Zach and very proud of him because he has matured and has become a responsible man.
“Words can’t explain how proud Frank and I are. He has grown during his time in ELAC and wherever he decides to go to school we will support him,” Katrania said.
Mosley said that the one thing they will miss about their departing starting forward is his heart and determination.
“Zach earned the label of being a high-motor player. He was always working hard in practice and during the games. He never took a play off. I wish I can coach someone like him every season,” Mosley said.