Pino was named to the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame in 2019, but due to COVID-19 protocols, the original induction ceremony in 2020 has been postponed until Sunday, August 15, 2021. He was joined in the classed by an 11-year-old NFL player. Alain branch, professional boxer Danny Romero, former NBA player and college basketball coach Jimmy collins, former college basketball coach Rob evans, female basketball player Carolyn thompson and professional boxer Holly holm.
Dubbed the “Nick the Stick” by a sports journalist with the Santa Fe New Mexican log for his 7-foot-1 frame, Pino played three seasons (1965-68) for the winter at K-State, guiding the Wildcats to the Big Eight’s regular season title in 1968 and a trip to the running backs. NCAA Midwest Regional Finals as a senior. In total, he helped K-State to 50 wins, bringing the program to three consecutive winning seasons, capped by the 19-game campaign in his final year.
Pino was known for his unstoppable hook shot, averaging in two digits over two of his three seasons, including his senior season in 1967-68, in which he nearly scored a double-double with 11, 7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game for the Big Eight. champions. He still ranks in the top 25 for total rebounds (561), while his 19 career double-doubles place 12e All the time. He made an instant impact in his sophomore in 1965-66, leading the team in both goals (10.9 points per game) and rebounds (7.0 points per game).
Pino was a renowned player at St. Michael’s High School in Santa Fe, where he played for the “Mighty Midget” team coached by Dick shelley. He became an All-American high school student as a senior in 1962-63, once scoring 80 points in a game against El Rito High School in January 1963 and setting the state record for free throws made with 26 against Espanola Valley later that year. The 1,033 points he scored as a senior set the state’s single-season record for 50 years before being eclipsed by Bryce alford in 2012-13.
Pino was drafted twice by the Los Angeles Lakers, most notably in the sixth round of the 1968 NBA Draft, but injuries derailed his early professional career. He would later relaunch his basketball career in Mexico, playing professionally for Santos de San Luis and winning a Mexican national title.
Pino would use his business degree from K-State to run a successful insurance business in the state for many years before returning to Santa Fe in 1985 to be closer to his family. Unfortunately, he was unable to enjoy his Hall of Fame honor when he passed away at the age of 75 on November 3, 2019.
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