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Monday, November 19, 2018

Men's Basketball

Sampson shows confidence in next wave of Cougars


Head coach Kelvin Sampson praised his training staff on its efforts to help build the team and prepare it for next season with the new NCAA rules in mind. | Andres Chio /The Cougar

After its best season in over 30 years, the UH men’s basketball team lost two starters to graduation, but head coach Kelvin Sampson is confident that the team’s moves during the offseason have it poised to make another great run.

Four players from last year may be gone, but remaining players, old and new, are ready to step up to the challenge, according to Sampson.

Besides graduate transfer Landon Goesling, Houston acquired three players that are in it for the long haul.

Four-star recruit freshman Nate Hinton has joined the team along with two sophomore transfers, DeJon Jarreau and Brison Gresham, from the University of Massachusetts.

“Nate Hinton is going to be really good. Those three guys are going to really help us,” Sampson said.

Jarreau and Gresham played as freshmen for the Minutemen in the 2016-17 season before transferring to junior college to sort out academic issues. They did not play basketball while there, so the duo will enter Houston with three seasons of eligibility remaining.

Jarreau averaged 9.8 points per game and 3.6 rebounds per game while Gresham averaged 3.2 rebounds per game and one block per game with the Minutemen.

“I’m excited about the other guys coming back, too. Chris Harris has really improved. Armoni Brooks has taken another jump. Corey Davis, you can tell how excited he is to be a senior leader,” Sampson said.

Senior Corey Davis Jr. led the team in three-pointers last season after transferring from junior college and formed a dynamic scoring duo with Rob Gray Jr., who is now signed with the Houston Rockets.

Junior Armoni Brooks won the AAC Sixth Man of the Year Award for his exceptional play off the bench and will likely be Gray’s replacement in the starting lineup.

Also returning is senior Galen Robinson Jr., who has been a starter during his previous three seasons at UH.

Robinson Jr. led the team in assists in both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons and was second last season behind Gray. He is the anchor of the team and needs to stay that way for the Cougars to be successful again.

With three starters and Brooks returning, the team already has a lot of synergy to build off of for next season.

Last offseason, the Cougars had to overhaul its starting lineup almost completely after half the team graduated or transferred away.

But right now, Sampson said the team is focused on easing back into the swing of things and starting workouts with the new NCAA rules in mind.

Under the new rules, teams can only train eight hours a week with just two of those hours focused on skill-related workouts liking shooting, pick and roll or other set play drills.

The team will ramp up workouts as the season gets closer, and the Cougars are poised to repeat last year’s achievements.

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