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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Kelvin Sampson among 11 semifinalists for Naismith Coach of the Year

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POSTED: March 11, 2019 -- 5:13 p.m. CDT

Houston Cougars Men's Basketball Head Coach Kelvin Sampson is one of 11 (11 instead of 10, due to ties in the voting process) semifinalists for the 2018-'19 Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year. The semifinalists were announced today by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Sampson has guided Houston to a 29-2 record overall and a 16-2 record in the American Athletic Conference to win the AAC regular season title outright.

Houston's 29 regular-season wins set a school single-season mark and topped the previous record of 28 victories by the 1967-68 team.

Sampson has previously been recognized as National Coach of the Year twice during his career. He was named National Coach of the Year by the Associated Press in 1994-95 after leading Oklahoma to a 23-9 record in his first season with the Sooners.

Seven coaches are seeking their first such honor, including Rick Barnes (Tennessee), Chris Beard (Texas Tech), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Nate Oats (Buffalo), Matt Painter (Purdue), Kelvin Sampson (Houston) and Mike Young (Wofford). The other four candidates are former Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year award winners with three coaches who have won at different colleges than where they currently coach.

Here's the complete list of Naismith Men's College Coach of the Year Late Season Candidates:

Rick Barnes Tennessee SEC
Chris Beard Texas Tech Big 12
Tony Bennett Virginia ACC
John Calipari Kentucky SEC
Mark Few Gonzaga WCC
Tom Izzo Michigan State Big Ten
Nate Oats Buffalo MAC
Matt Painter Purdue Big Ten
Kelvin Sampson Houston AAC
Roy Williams North Carolina ACC
Mike Young Wofford SoCon

"With the regular season complete, the competition for Werner Ladder Naismith Trophy Coach of the Year will pick up as tournament play begins," said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. "We're looking forward to watching these candidates lead and push their teams to excel through post season."

The four finalists for the Werner Ladder Naismith Trophy for Men's College Coach of the Year will be announced on March 20. Fans will be able to support their favorite coach by visiting between March 22-April 3, to cast their ballot, and the fan vote will account for five percent of the overall final vote. Then, on April 7, 2019, the 2019 Werner Ladder Naismith Trophy for Men's College Coach of the Year will be awarded at the Naismith Awards Brunch presented by Mortenson, during the Final Four in Minneapolis.

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