HOUSTON - After leading the University of Houston Men’s Basketball team to one of the best seasons in more than three decades, Head Coach Kelvin Sampson was honored Wednesday morning as the American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.
Sampson collected the fifth conference Coach of the Year award from the fourth different league in his career. He was previously recognized as the Coach of the Year in 1995 (Big Eight • Oklahoma); 1991 (PAC-10 • Washington State); 1985 (Frontier • Montana Tech) and 1984 (Frontier • Montana Tech).
Now in his fourth season at Houston, Sampson has led the Cougars to one of the best seasons since 1983-84. With a 24-6 overall record, the 2017-18 Cougars became only the 12th team in school history to enjoy 24+ wins in a single season.
With a 14-4 mark in American Athletic Conference play, the Cougars tied for second with No. 11/14 Wichita State and finished among the league’s Top-3 leaders for the third straight season. It also marked the third-highest conference win total in school history and the most victories since the 1983-84 team went 15-1 in the Southwest Conference.
Sampson’s Cougars posted a pair of Top-10 wins against No. 7/4 Wichita State (Jan. 20) and No. 5/5 Cincinnati (Feb. 15), becoming the first Houston team to accomplish that feat since 1983-84.
With an RPI of No. 19, Sampson is poised to lead the Cougars into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010 and only the second time since 1992. He will become the 14th coach in NCAA history to lead four different schools into the NCAA Tournament.
Sampson, who has competed in 13 NCAA Tournaments during his 29-year career, previously led Indiana, Oklahoma and Washington State into March Madness.
Sampson became the first Houston coach to be honored as a conference Coach of the Year since Pat Foster was recognized by the Southwest Conference in 1992. He also joined Foster and Hall of Fame Coach Guy V. Lewis as the only Cougar coaches to receive a Conference Coach of the Year award.
Sampson is only the latest award-winner for the Cougars this week. Sophomore guard Armoni Brooks was named the league’s Sixth Man of the Year. Senior guard Rob Gray was named to the league’s First Team, while freshman forward Fabian White Jr. earned a place on the All-Rookie Team.
Cincinnati’s Gary Clark was named the Player of the Year, while ECU’s Shawn Williams was named the Rookie of the Year. Obi Enechionyia was honored as the Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Sampson leads the 21st-ranked Cougars into the postseason this weekend. The Cougars will compete as the No. 3 seed at the Aaron's American Athletic Conference Championship, beginning Thursday inside the Amway Center in Orlando.
Houston will face the winner of the game between No. 6 seed UCF and No. 11 seed ECU at 8 p.m. (CST) Friday. The game will be shown on ESPNU and can be heard on KPRC 950 AM.
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