‘Every day he’s fired up’: Kellen Sampson’s impact on UH men’s basketball
UH basketball’s Kellen Sampson first joined the Cougars back in 2014 to be the assistant coach along side his father, Kelvin Sampson, and the father-son coaching duo has since rebuilt the program for success, including an unforgettable Final Four run just two seasons ago and an Elite Eight appearance a season later.
While often being casted in the shadows of his father, Kellen brings his own flare to the program and aims to set himself apart from his father when it comes to complementary coaching.
“I think the worst thing I can do is be another version of (Kelvin), he’s one of one,” Kellen Sampson said. “He’s not out there trying to emulate me and I don’t need to be out there emulating him, I need to be the best version of Kellen Sampson I can be.”
According to players such as redshirt junior forward J’Wan Roberts and fifth-year forward Reggie Chaney, Kellen takes on a more of a mentor role, especially amongst the big-men on the roster.
“He shows me a lot. He’s a great mentor, he pushes you every day to perform to the best of your ability,” Roberts said.
“He’s a teacher, he teaches us so much on and off the court. I feel like he’s that father figure we all look up to, he just teaches us a lot,” Chaney said.
Kellen’s relationship with players carries beyond the basketball court, with Roberts mentioning how much he learns from Kellen just about life in general throughout his time with the program.
“I would say it’s deeper than basketball,” Roberts said.”Off the court he still shows me tips, gives me life lessons. He’s the reason I am where I am today.”
Meanwhile, the style of coaching Kellen brings on the court is highlighted by his personality and intensity, intensity that parallels with his father’s, according to Roberts and Chaney.
“His character I think is the biggest thing, his personality,” Chaney says. “Everyday he’s fired up just like Coach (Kelvin) Sampson. He comes in and he’s the same person everyday, working.”
“He comes in and sets the standard, there’s a reason we are where we’re at right now,”Roberts said. “Everybody’s just locked in with each other, especially Coach Kellen and Coach Sampson. They have the same intensity.”
For Kellen, his ability to provide that intensity and personality each and every day comes from the belief his father instilled in him and Kellen recognizes how vital it is for a coach to provide that on a daily basis.
“One of the things I learned from my dad is the best thing you can do is be yourself every single day,” Kellen said. “As a coach, you’re never allowed to have a bad day. So if you’re energetic, fired up and your fuse is lit and ready to go on a Monday, you have the responsibility to be that same person on Tuesday.”
Players believe what Kellen brings to the program is unique and while he’s the assistant coach at the moment, his players believe he is destined for greatness.
“I would honestly say Coach (Kelvin) Sampson is a hall of fame coach hands down, and I really feel like Coach Kellen is following right in his footsteps,” Roberts said.