Houston Basketball: Kelvin Sampson’s journey to becoming a top-tier head coach

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Houston Basketball head coach Kelvin Sampson Caleb Mills  James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Sports are a results-based business but we as fans also enjoy the storylines that go along with those results. Whether it is an underdog pulling off upsets, a player making a triumphant return from injury, or the redemption story of a team, player, or coach, these are what we get invested in as fans in addition to results.

In the world of college basketball over the last few years, one of these encapsulating storylines has been taking place with seemingly little fanfare. This one involves a program and its head coach having new life breathed into both of them as they rise to elite levels in the sport.

Houston Basketball and Kelvin Sampson have been the class of the American Athletic Conference in the last few years and the hiring of Sampson after the 2013-14 season has turned into a marriage made in heaven for both the school and the coach. The Cougars were one of the best programs in the country in the mid-80s, going to three straight Final Fours from 1982-84 in the heyday of Phi Slamma Jamma that featured future NBA Hall of Famers Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon.

Since that Final Four appearance in 1984, Houston had very little success in the NCAA Tournament, with as many Sweet Sixteen appearances as you and I. Enter Sampson and all that has changed. Not only are the Cougars reaching the Sweet Sixteen, but they are also reaching the levels they once did nearly 40 years ago. Here’s a look at the revitalization of Sampson and the program he has once again turned into a national threat.

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