Born: May 12, 1961

He remembers it as if it was yesterday. The note handed to him by a campus security guard, with instructions to call the athletic director at Missouri State University just up I-44 in Springfield.

This was way before the general public carried cell phones, and Barry Hinson wondered what it could be. At the time, Missouri State was seeking a coach in the spring of 1999 after its men’s basketball team reached the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. Little did Hinson, then coaching at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, know that a coach had turned down the Bears.

“It kind of shocked me,” Hinson said. “Back then, you didn’t know (the news) until you read it in the paper or saw it on TV.”

In a matter of days, Hinson became Missouri State’s coach, beginning a nearly decade-long run of success under his watch. And that’s why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame proudly inducted Hinson with the Class of 2023.

After being hired by athletic director Bill Rowe (MSHOF 2016), Hinson coached the Bears from November 1999 to March 2008, and his teams were 169-117.

Four of his teams played in the postseason National Invitation Tournament (2000, 2005, 2006, 2007), with the 2005 and 2006 teams building top 25 RPIs, or Rating Percentage Index, that had them on the brink of at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament.

Four of his teams finished among the top four in the Missouri Valley Conference, which at the time was the premier mid-major conference in the country as it often sent four teams to the NCAA Tournament.

Combined with his later tenure at Southern Illinois (2012-2019), his 155 victories in the Valley made Hinson a dean of the conference, with only Henry Iba (21 years, 190 wins), Eddie Hickey (20, 164) and Dana Altman (16, 178) coaching more seasons and winning more games a head coach in the history of the Valley.

Hinson certainly fit like a glove in the Ozarks, as his downhome folksy humor harkened back to the days of former Bears coach Charlie Spoonhour (MSHOF Legend 2009).

Whenever his teams played Power 5 schools, Hinson would often say, “They have several McDonald’s All-Americans, and we have guys who have eaten at McDonald’s.”

But that was the thing about Hinson. He wasn’t afraid to take on the challenge in the shadows of the Sweet Sixteen team, in part because he sensed the Ozarks’ had the Bears’ collective back.

You see, in the mid-1990s while at ORU, Hinson had scouted a Bears opponent at Hammons Student Center.

“I sat there in amazement at the support they had from the Springfield community,” Hinson said. “When I left there, my first impression was, ‘This is a good place.’”

Hinson had graduated in 1983 from Oklahoma State University graduate, having attended on a work-study program. There, he shadowed former basketball coach Hank Iba (MSHOF 1961) and then set out on a coaching career himself. His road to Springfield featured stops at Stillwater, Edmond and Bishop Kelley high schools, and then ORU.

In Springfield, Hinson infused his Missouri State rosters with local and regional talent, helping to further the community support of Bears basketball.

His teams scored notable regular-season wins against Texas Christian, Wisconsin and Texas A&M, and, in the 2006 NIT, victories against Stanford and Houston.

Before the Stanford game, Hinson took to the dry-erase board and, mindful of an NCAA Tournament snub, wrote, “The NCAA. Are they wrong?’”

That game, along with being around Lady Bears coach Cheryl Burnett (MSHOF Legend 2015) and star guard Jackie Stiles (MSHOF 2002) remain among his favorite Springfield memories. As does his final game as Bears coach.

“The security guard came in to the locker room and said, ‘They won’t leave. They’re asking for you,” Hinson said, referring to the crowd.

Overall, Hinson ended his career with a 321-246 collegiate coaching record, and he later spent four seasons (2008-2012) on Bill Self’s staff at Kansas. He returned to OSU’s staff and is now Associate Athletic Director/NIL Director there.

Looking back, he credits so many mentors: Iba, Eddie Sutton, his two high school coaches, Self, Mike Boynton and so many in the Ozarks who welcomed his family.

Best of all, he always had the support of his wife, Angie, and their daughters Tiffany and Ashley.

“I never really gauged success by wins and losses but by relationships,” Hinson said. “The friends we made in Springfield will last until the day I die.”