Kelvin Sampson reflects on journey to 700 wins
Entering Monday, the beginning of the 2022-23 college basketball season, 32 coaches in NCAA history had 700 or more career wins. Kelvin Sampson etched his name in history as the 33rd to accomplish the feat in UH’s blowout victory over Northern Colorado.
While Sampson gets all the praise from the outside looking in on what he’s accomplished at every place he’s coached, the 67-year-old college basketball veteran is the first to say that this milestone is not about himself.
“It’s not my 700 wins,” Sampson said after the game. “It’s our 700 wins.”
After the game, Sampson was presented with a commemorative basketball to celebrate his historic achievement. With a big smile plastered on his face, Sampson accepted the gift gratefully.
But what came moments later when a video appeared on the big screens of Fertitta Center was when the real emotions started to pour out.
Lasting nearly four minutes, a video of former players that Sampson had coached throughout his now 34 seasons in college basketball made his eyes water.
“That’s what got me,” Sampson said.
Players like Corey Davis (UH, 2017-19), Hollis Price (Oklahoma, 1999-2003 and currently on the UH coaching staff), DeJon Jarreau (UH, 2018-21), Wes VanBeck (UH, 2014-18), Galen Robinson Jr. (UH, 2015-19) and many others sent heartfelt messages congratulating Sampson on reaching the 700-win mark.
“Those are my dudes. Those are my guys,” Sampson said. “Their handprint in everything that they’ve accomplished is on this ball.”
From Montana Tech to Washington State to Oklahoma to Indiana to now being at UH, every team Sampson has coached has left a mark on him.
“This is my 34th different team and I love them all,” Sampson said. “They may not know it at the time but as time goes on they realize the impact we have on each other.”
With Sampson building the UH program with his wife Karen, son Kellen and daughter Lauren right beside him every step of the way, the video fittingly ended with his granddaughter Maisy congratulating her grandpa and telling him how much she loves him.
“It’s been a wonderful journey,” Sampson said.