Houston’s Kelvin Sampson not ready to coronate Jarace Walker, but he is proud with his progress

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Andy Nelson/AP/Shutterstock (13631949m) Houston forward Jarace Walker (25) is fouled by Oregon center N’Faly Dante (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, in Eugene, Ore Houston Oregon Basketball, Eugene, United States – 20 Nov 2022

Houston’s Kelvin Sampson not ready to coronate Jarace Walker, but he is proud with his progress

Heading into Sunday’s matchup against the Cincinnati Bearcats, Houston Cougars basketball head coach Kelvin Sampson wasn’t sure if he was going to have freshman forward Jarace Walker for the game.

The Pennsylvania native had been battling with a high temperature leading up to the afternoon, Sampson told reporters after the game. When he asked Walker if he was going to be able to play, the young forward said he was going to give it a try. For Sampson, that meant Walker was going to have to give it his all on the court.

“If you’re at 80% then I want 100% of your 80%,” Sampson told Walker. “If you’re at 75% then I want 100% of your 75%. His rebounding was down [against the Bearcats]. I didn’t think his energy level was great on defense like it was maybe Thursday … but he is getting more confidence in the offense, and our players are getting confidence in him.”

Walker not only played in Sunday’s contest, but he managed to string together back-to-back solid performances for the first time in his young Houston career.

He finished the game with 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field, five rebounds, and three steals for the Cougars in their 72-59 win.

It was an encore performance to what Walker was able to do on Thursday night against Southern Methodist University when he tracked down a 23-point, 10-rebound double-double, the second in his collegiate career.

“I just feel like I am starting to get more consistent and more aggressive on offense,” Walker told Gallery Sports in Cincinnati after the game.

Confidence has been the key for Walker. It is something that his teammate, Houston Cougars big man Ja’Vier Francis, has noticed as well.

“His confidence has gotten way better,” Francis told Gallery Sports. “He always had confidence, but you can see it’s skyrocketing right now. He’s starting to figure out what he can and can’t do, so I think that is really helping him a lot too.”

For Walker, a big reason behind his rise in confidence has been because of the trust he has seen from Sampson. In practice, Sampson tells Walker to be aggressive when he is open and to just make plays for his teammates, Walker said.

“I never get carried away with anything they do, good or bad,” Sampson said. “We have practice tomorrow. There is no coronation around here if you have a good game. That’s the first time he’s had two consecutive good games, but the key is to put three, four, five, six, seven.”

While Sampson isn’t ready to tab Walker as Houston’s next all-American, he does recognize the progress Walker has made with the program. It is that progress that helped lead Walker to his third American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Week award this season on Monday.

“I am proud of him,” Sampson said.

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *