The motive behind Josh Carlton’s transfer to UH
No. 13 Houston came away with an 11th win of the season on Wednesday after another dominating performance from UCONN transfer and graduate center Josh Carlton against Texas State. Here he posted his season-high 20 points to go along with five rebounds and a blocked shot.
In his first season as a Cougar, Carlton is proving to be one of the most predominant players on the roster and has shown in the last several games why he had head coach Kelvin Sampson’s interest during the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
Sampson said he had Carlton’s commitment before they even left Indianapolis last season.
“It was during the Final Four, I think Josh committed to me on the phone before the Oregon State game,” Sampson said. “Before we left Indianapolis, we had Kyler and Josh. Josh was something we had not had before.”
Before Sampson and the UH men’s basketball team expressed interest, Carlton was unsure he would receive any interest at all, much less from a program that had just made the Final Four.
“I didn’t expect to get many suitors,” Carlton said. “There weren’t many people out there contacting me. Especially not teams in the tournament, so when I had Houston contact me and they’re in the run, I was excited. I saw it as an opportunity to play for a winning program.”
Carlton feels the difference in playing for UH is the culture that has been established through the years. He credits his decision to transfer to Sampson and players before him that instilled that culture deep into the program.
“Here, the program’s already established, the cultures already established,” Carlton said. “The standards were set by guys who were here before me, I’m just following that standard, just following the culture.”
Although it was a big deal to Carlton to have a program like UH reach out and express interest given the situation he was in, Sampson told Carlton that the team could play through him, but he would have to get better.
Sampson believes this is what sold Josh on coming to UH.
“The thing that I sold Josh on was that we’re going to be able to play through him, but he’s got to get better,” Sampson said. “Those games in Connecticut, he didn’t do a lot.”
Since joining the program in UH this season, Carlton has held up his end of the deal. Proving he has gotten better and that he is continuing to get better as the season goes on.
Carlton has been on a tear as of late, scoring in double figures in five of his last six games, all while averaging just under seven rebounds in the process.
Now as a player with a pivotal role on the team, Carlton’s skillset is being noticed by opposing defenses and teams are adjusting as such, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the Cougars, according to junior guard Marcus Sasser.
Sasser believes the attention Carlton draws is a good thing for the team due to the fact that it frees up the guards and makes getting available shots easier when teams crash the paint.
“It makes the game for the guards much easier,” Sasser said. “He brings so much attention in from the other team. They’re double-teaming him, focusing on him, so it’s making the guards get easier shots.”
Carlton’s impact cannot be disputed, but whether remains a starter throughout the season is a question due to front-court depth on the Cougars roster.
Sampson feels it won’t make a difference in his production though.
“To me, it doesn’t matter who starts. I don’t care who starts and neither does he,” Sampson said. “That’s the great thing about our program, we have nine starters. He’s still going to get the same amount of minutes, (the) same amount of shots, points, same amount of rebounds.”