Q&A: UH head coach Kelvin Sampson on NCAA Basketball Academy, Westbrook with Rockets and more

HOUSTON – The University of Houston is hosting the NCAA Basketball Academy July 22-28.

Six hundred high school basketball players will come through the city to partake in drills and games, as well as learn life skills from coaches.

UH is one of four hosts and is assigned to the South Region. The other three camps are in Phoenix, Champaign, Illinois, and Storrs, Connecticut.

Plenty of high-level Division I head coaches could be found at the Fertitta Center, including hosting coach Kelvin Sampson.

We caught up with Sampson to discuss a wide range of topics.



On hosting the NCAA Basketball Academy

“I think it’s great for our university. There are a ton of Texas kids at this camp, and the fact that there’s only four nationally –- the exposure that we get –- a lot of good kids come to this camp. Major college coaches come to these camps to evaluate these kids. I never thought all of these coaches would be coming to our campus.”

On UH’s improved facilities

“What’s ironic is, they chose us because of our facilities. Let’s rewind this to 2014. I would have never thought it, so Tillman Fertitta – thank you, for the vision for that arena, and this practice facility. If you don’t win, you don’t get this stuff.”

On his returning players

“We lost a lot (of players), but we also get a lot back. We’ve got a nice mix of veteran players coming back and exciting new players coming in. I’m not a destination guy, and to me journey has been better than the destination.”

On Quentin Grimes

“Quentin is great to coach. We’re up at 6:45 this morning running 18 110-yard sprints. He works hard at individual workouts, he works hard at team workouts. We play for the front of the jersey that says Houston. Nobody buys into that as much as Quentin does. High, high character kid. Unbelievable family. (I’m) looking better to developing Quentin.”

On Russell Westbrook being traded to the Rockets

“When we were playing Oklahoma City (Thunder), James (Harden) was their sixth man and a lot of times he came in for Russell. At the end of the games, it was James, Russell, Kevin (Durant), Nick Collison and (Serge) Ibaka. Now, the Rockets can play pick and roll on both sides of the floor. Russ plays downhill. James can really shoot. James can play downhill and get fouled. If they were both 25, I’m not sure it would work, but Russ is 11 years. His legacy is sealed as a player, and now he wants to be a winner, and that’s the aspect most people aren't thinking about. What’s he going to do, win another MVP, average another triple-double? Been there, done that! Let’s win. And that’s why I think this thing’s going to work beautifully.”