Trevor Hudgins

Northwest men's basketball guard Trevor Hudgins dribbles the ball up the court during the Bearcats' win over Augustana in the Central Region Tournament title game in March 2022.

Trevor Hudgins fondly remembers being a part of the Little Dribblers as a kid in Manhattan, Kansas. He fondly remembers his four years at Manhattan High School. And he fondly remembers his five-year, success-filled tenure at Northwest Missouri State University.

Now, he’ll fondly remember the night of June 23, when he agreed to a two-way contract with the Houston Rockets shortly after the closing moments of the 2022 NBA Draft.

“It’s just crazy I got that call,” Hudgins said. “(Houston GM Rafael Stone) said, ‘It’s official, you’re a Houston Rocket.’ I didn’t even know what to say.”

Hudgins, a 6-foot guard, is used to having the spotlight turned his way. He closed out his collegiate career as a back-to-back Division II Player of the Year, and he helped Northwest win an unprecedented three-straight national titles.

But in that moment, when he became the first player in school history to sign an NBA contract, he couldn’t help but be awestruck.

His feet were planted in the city — the home — that helped make him who he is today, and that phone call assured him that all of the work up to that point was worth it.

“I was speechless, honestly,” Hudgins said. “Throughout the last five years, after all of the National Championships and everything like that, I’ve been speechless about those. It’s kind of the same feeling.”

The two-way contract gives Hudgins, and the Rockets, room to be flexible.

Hudgins is projected to start next season with Houston’s G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, who have won two of the last three league titles. However, he could be called up to the Rockets at any point in the season so long as he doesn’t surpass the two-way maximum of 50 games.

But first, he’ll have a chance to prove himself in the NBA Summer League.

The Rockets’ squad — which will include first-round picks Jabari Smith (Auburn, No. 3 overall), Tari Eason (LSU, No. 17) and Tyty Washington (Kentucky, drafted 29th by MEM before trade) — will play its first game against the Orlando Magic on July 7. It will be aired on ESPN.

“Everything’s up in the air right now,” Hudgins said of his role with the Rockets. “It just all depends on how I play. I have confidence that I’ll be able to help out the organization in some way, and I’m just excited to get to work.”

Hudgins, who worked out for the Rockets and Brooklyn Nets in early May, made his way to Houston on Friday and has been there since.

It’s a stark difference perched up in a hotel in downtown Houston compared to his hometown of Manhattan or second home of Maryville, Missouri.

“I looked up the population of Houston, and I was like, ‘Oh, OK. That’s a lot,’” Hudgins said. “Everything is bigger in Texas, I guess. … It’s just a blessing to be able to be down here.”

He’s spent the time since his arrival in the Lone Star State working out with Smith and Eason, and he’s taken advantage of the Rockets’ new addition of a 4-point line in the organization’s practice facility.

One of the biggest things Hudgins is hoping to bring to the table is his marksmanship from beyond the arc. He finished his collegiate career hitting 46.5% of the 936 3-pointers he attempted, and that led to a career-best 23 points per game during his farewell tour.

He’ll look to bring his prolific passing ability, too, which led to becoming Northwest’s all-time leading assister with 700. Throughout 139 games as a Bearcat, Hudgins averaged more than five assists per contest.

And most important, he’ll bring with him a track record of success. From the Little Dribblers to Manhattan High to Northwest, that’s one thing that’s remained constant.

He doesn’t see that changing anytime soon, either.

“I’m just a winner. … Just like (Northwest coach Ben McCollum) took a chance on me, they took a chance on a Division II guy — an undersized Division II guy,” Hudgins said. “I’m extremely blessed and extremely happy to be a Houston Rocket.”

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