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Kelvin Sampson says team's depth has been "The strength of our teams the last three years."

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POSTED: October 30, 2019 -- 11:59 a.m. CT

As the 2019-'20 college basketball season rapidly approaches, despite replacing 4 starters from last year's NCAA Tournament team, this year's team appears to have quality depth at each position. Kelvin Sampson, Houston Cougars men's basketball Head Coach, says the depth has been a key to the team's success the last few years.

"Yeah. Yeah. The strength of our teams the last three years," Coach Sampson said. "Rob's (Rob Gray) senior year (2017-'18), we were two deep about every spot. We don't need to be two-deep at every spot. At the five spot, we have three guys. But, we have five good guards (Quentin Grimes, Dejon Jarreau, Nate Hinton, Caleb Mills and Marcus Sasser). We have two 4s (power forwards Fabian White Jr and Justin Gorham). And, this year, we have three 5s (centers Chris Harris Jr and Brison Gresham) with Fabian. If we go small, Fabian will be the 5 in the small lineup."

Fabian White Jr has gotten taller and gained weight and strength since his freshman season in 2017-'18.

"Fabian is 6'8" now. And 230," Coach Sampson commented. "When he got here, I think he was about 6'6" and 196. We looked at his charts the other day. Maybe, he was 6'6" and a half. He's grown an inch and a half and gained about 30 pounds. But, you can see it in him. He's developed a game. When he got here, he didn't have a game. He was just a good player. There was nothing defined in what he did.

"I give Kellen (assistant coach Kellen Sampson) a lot of credit for Fabian. He's put a lot work in with that young man. Fabian has really developed."

With Gorham and White at the 4, Cedrick Alley Jr will spend more time on the wings this season. Coach Sampson likes the versatility Alley provides the team.

"The other guy that's been pretty good, too. We've kind of filtered him over to the backcourt a little bit is Ced Alley. We've seen some nice things from him. He's a nice piece to have. He's a little bit of a Swiss-army knife."



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Grimes announced his transfer to UH from Kansas on June 27.

Since the Coogs have depth at every position, Coach Sampson says the coaching staff is considering whether or not to redshirt freshman forward J'Wan Roberts this season. Roberts is an elite athlete with great instincts to always be the near ball for rebounds.

Here's an example of Roberts' athleticism:

"One of the guys that we're excited about; and, we've got to make a decision on as far as redshirt is J'Wan Roberts," Sampson acknowledged. "I mean there's some days when the ball hits the rim you better block him out; because, if you don't, he plays way above the rim. That is an athletic kid that can really rebound. He's got a nose for the ball. A lot of kids can jump that can't rebound. They're never where the ball is. This kid is always where the ball is. He can really rebound."

Sampson added Houston's depth is not a whim. Nor a flash in the pan.

"It's not an accident that we have good depth," Sampson stated. "We recruit good depth. But, to have good depth in today's college game, you better have great kids because, in a lot of programs, if they're not playing, they're on the first bus out. Well, our kids embrace playing for each other which has a lot to do with the culture of our program."

Houston hosts Angelo State, in an exhibition game, Saturday, November 9, at 5 pm. Houston tips off the regular season, Tuesday, November 12, when it hosts Alabama State. Tip is set for 7 p.m. inside Fertitta Center.

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