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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Men's Basketball

From Dickinson to Holman Street: Tramon Mark’s journey to UH


UH freshman guard Tramon Mark scored 22 points on 5 of 8 shooting from the field and 10 of 13 from the free-throw line in his collegiate debut against Lamar. | Courtesy of UH athletics

UH freshman guard Tramon Mark scored 22 points on 5 of 8 shooting from the field and 10 of 13 from the free throw line in his collegiate debut against Lamar. | Courtesy of UH athletics

In April 2019, Kelvin Sampson did something he rarely does. He took his entire staff to meet with a recruit by the name of Tramon Mark.

Mark, a junior at Dickinson High School at the time, was ranked the third-highest player of his class in the state of Texas by 247 Sports and 72nd nationally in the 2020 ESPN 100.

Alongside Mark, his parents and high school coach, Sampson and his staff expressed how much Mark would mean to the Houston program if he joined. The coaches believed he was a perfect fit.

“We sat in a room and I made sure that (Mark) understood how important he was to our program and that I wanted to coach him,” Sampson said. 

High school baller

Mark had first caught Sampson’s eye during a game in his sophomore season at Dickinson. Sampson immediately knew that Mark was special.

“When I saw (Tramon) as a (high school) sophomore, he had me at hello,” Sampson said. “I knew he was going to be good.”

Jason Wilson, Mark’s coach for four years at Dickinson, described Mark as a quiet kid when he entered high school as a freshman, but he had the same feeling gut feeling that Sampson did about Mark.

While the guard did not say much during his first season at Dickinson, his talent and pure athleticism spoke loud and clear.

“I had little to do with (Mark) just being gifted and talented,” Wilson said. “He was just a gifted and talented player from the jump.”

Mutual interest

Not only had many people recognized the 6-foot-5-inch guard’s talent early in his high school career, but the UH program had caught Mark’s eye. He watched the Cougars from afar.

While Mark was widely recruited and received offers from California, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and TCU, something about UH really stood out to him.

“Watching (UH) play, they just played how I would envision myself playing,” Mark said. “I love watching the Cougars play and now that I’m playing with them, it’s even better.”

Shortly after that April meeting with Sampson and his staff, Mark committed to the Cougars.

After committing to UH, Mark continued to rack up accomplishments including being invited to the NBA Top 100 Camp and leading the event in assists, as well as being named the 2020 Guy V. Lewis Award winner, an award given to the top high school player in the greater Houston area.

Sampson raved about Mark’s talent before he even officially entered the program, referring to him as a “Swiss Army Knife” because he has a wide variety of skills and can do a little bit of everything on the court.

“Tramon’s greatest strength is he doesn’t really have any weaknesses,” Sampson said. “He does everything pretty good, but I think some of the things he does pretty good has a chance to move up another level.”

Transitioning

After graduating from Dickinson, Mark stepped foot on the UH campus and officially became a member of the Cougars. Transitioning from high school to an NCAA Division I basketball player, however, presents many challenges even for an athlete as accomplished as Mark.

The biggest adjustment in the transition from high school to college for Mark has not been the physical side of things, but rather the mental side.

“It’s definitely more mental in college,” Mark said. “That’s something I’m going through right now, just getting my mental toughness right every day. Your mental toughness has really got to be on point.”

Along with having to develop mental toughness, Mark has gone from being “the man” on his high school team, to now being on a UH team full of guys who were the best players on their high school teams.

Switching from being the guy that did everything for his high school team, to now taking on a completely different role with UH takes time and is something Mark is still adjusting to.

“If you’re really a good player, you get in where you can fit in easily. I think I’m making that adjustment right now,” Mark said. “I’m just trying to get in where I can fit in on the team and do my thing but still let everyone else do their thing as a team.”

Leaving a Mark

While Mark is still adjusting to all the new changes and challenges college presents, he has already made a major impact for the Cougars this season.

Mark scored 22 points in his collegiate debut against Lamar and has been named the American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Week multiple times.

This was exactly what Wilson expected Mark to do after seeing Mark grow and develop right in front of his eyes over the past four years.

“Tramon has worked for this opportunity and he’s such a special talent,” Wilson said. “Being able to see him for four years do some of the things he’s done, I’m not surprised at anything he’s doing (at UH) and stepping in and having an immediate impact.”

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