Men's Basketball

Barnes makes a difference among Cougars’ ups and downs

“He’s a tough kid. If I had somebody that would carry our flag, our banner, it would be LeRon. I want our program to be known for guys like LeRon Barnes. I love that guy.”  -Kelvin Sampson


Redshirt junior guard LeRon Barnes has kept the Houston defense alive this season. He leads his team in rebounds, representing the Cougars in the AAC’s Top 10 rebounders. | Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

Although head coach Kelvin Sampson says there’s nothing “flashy or pretty or glitzy” about him, “every team needs a LeRon Barnes.” One of three appointed team captains, Barnes has remained an asset for the Cougars on the floor and is a stabilizing force on the team — but he does so quietly.

Able to guard the best players of opposing teams, Barnes is also the team’s best rebounder, ranked in the top 10 in the American Athletic Conference.

The Cougar: Coach Sampson has been very complimentary of you as a person. How were you guys able to mesh so well?

LeRon Barnes: I think it’s because I just try to be myself around him. I also try to be a good role model to my teammates, I love basketball and I am just doing right. I also graduate this spring. I guess he liked that.

TC: You had a slow start at UH due to injuries. Can you reflect on your past seasons and what you’ve taken from them? How were those first years?

LB: My freshman year was difficult because I was so excited coming in. I was ready to play, and then I messed my groin up, so I had to sit out. It actually helped me out a lot because I got to see things that you can’t see on the floor. That helped me out a lot, and it helped me mature. Then the next year I came back; I played one game and twisted my ankle and had to sit out another 20 games, but it still gave me experience, and I grew from it.

TC: Sampson said that you just show up and do your job, but are you having more fun this year than past years? Do you feel like you’re finally being rewarded?

LB: I am having a lot of fun. I respect Coach a lot because of what he’s been through, and to get to work with him is very fun.

TC: You went from being sidelined to skyrocketing to leading the conference in rebounding at one point. Was it something that you work on personally or something Coach Sampson wanted from you or is or is it just effort?

LB: I think it’s just due to effort. I’ve always been a good rebounder, so it’s just easy to me.

TC: You said that one of the reasons that you chose UH is because of its academics. Is it tough to balance academics and being successful on the court while also trying to be a role model for your teammates?

LB: It’s not that hard; you just have to plan. My freshman year was tough because I was always trying to go out and have fun, and I wasn’t really thinking about my school work. Now I just plan accordingly.

TC: What is your main influence? What or who are you being a role model for?

LB: I just want to be known as a hard worker. When someone mentions my name I just want them to know that I work hard, and I have a good work ethic.

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