Busting Brackets

Houston Basketball: Can the Cougars bounce back from NCAA heartbreak in 2018-19?

WICHITA, KS - MARCH 15: Rob Gray
WICHITA, KS - MARCH 15: Rob Gray /

Houston Basketball suffered March Sadness at the hands of Michigan. Can they use that to get better this season?

The Houston Cougars experienced the entire gambit of emotions during their two-game run in last year’s NCAA Tournament. In their first game guard, Rob Gray hit a layup with one second left to eliminate San Diego State. In the second round, Michigan’s Tyrone Poole landed a buzzer-beating dagger to end the Cougars’ run.

Gone are Gray and forward Devin Davis, but coach Kelvin Sampson does have a couple of key players returning, namely junior guard Armoni Brooks and sophomore forward Fabian White, Jr.

Brooks is a 6-3 shooting guard from Round Rock, Texas who averaged over nine points and three rebounds in 20 minutes per game last season, even registering back-to-back double-doubles against Central Florida and SMU in February. Brooks is a sharpshooter who shot 42% from both the field and behind the arc. Having only shot 27-61 on two-point field goals, Brooks will need to develop more of an all-around offensive game in order to take on a more substantial role this season.

More from Busting Brackets

White, a 6-7 forward from Atascocita, Texas who shot 56% from the field in his freshman year. He scored 5.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in just over 16 minutes per game, including two double-doubles and a career-high 17 points in a win over Eastern Carolina.

Sampson will also have four redshirt players at his disposal this season, two guards and two forwards.

Landon Goesling is a 6-2 junior guard who comes to Houston after two years at Division II St. Edward’s where he averaged 22.9 points per game and scored over 20 in 22 of his 30 games last season. The other guard is Dejon Jarreau from New Orleans who played his freshman year at Massachusetts where he started 25 games averaging nearly 10 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.6 rebounds. He then transferred to Howard College but did not play basketball. The forwards are, 6-5 Cedric Alley, Jr. who redshirted after suffering a hip injury two games into the season. If he proves healthy he could see some minutes in the Cougars’ wing rotation.

Caleb Broodo, a 6-7 forward from Michigan who sat out last season and joins a frontcourt full of 6-6 to 6-8 players and needs to separate himself from the pack. Also joining the Cougar frontcourt is someone who Jarreau knows well, his former high school teammate and then at UMass and at Howard College, 6-9 sophomore forward Brison Gresham. Gresham appeared in 28 games as a freshman, starting 13.

With so many redshirts and transfers eligible available to Sampson, the recruiting class consists of one recruit, four-star borderline top-100 6-6 shooting guard Nate Hinton out of North Carolina where he averaged 19 points per game last season. Sampson referred to him as a breakout star of the summer as he averaged 17 points, seven rebounds, and five assists in leading his AAU team to the title game of the Adidas Gauntlet tournament.

Next. 30 best atmospheres in college hoops. dark

The Cougars have lost some key cogs but if the newcomers can gel with the likes of Brooks and White, the pieces are there for the team to return to the NCAA Tournament.