Marcus Sasser should be the American Athletic Conference player of the year, Kelvin Sampson says

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Kevin M Cox/AP/Shutterstock (13779320r) Houston guard Marcus Sasser (0) drives past Tulane guard Sion James (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, in Houston Tulane Basketball, Houston, United States – 22 Feb 2023

Marcus Sasser should be the American Athletic Conference player of the year, Kelvin Sampson says

Houston Cougars basketball head coach Kelvin Sampson didn’t mince his words following its win against Tulane on Wednesday. In Sampson’s eyes, Marcus Sasser should be the player of the year in the American Athletic Conference.

“To me, the player of the year in this league has been Marcus Sasser,” Sampson said. “He’s the best player in this league. Don’t base it on stats. Marcus’ stats could be a lot better if he took a lot more shots. That’s why I think the player of the year should be the best two-way player.”

Sasser’s impact has been felt by the Cougars on a nightly basis. At times tasked with being the team’s go-to scorer, he is often asked to defend the opposing team’s best offensive players too. Wednesday night’s game saw the Dallas native defend Tulane’s best offensive threat, sophomore guard Jalen Cook.

Sasser not only took on that challenge but also put together a nice offensive showing with 22 points, including four 3-point baskets, five rebounds, and six assists.

During stretches against Tulane, it seemed like Sasser was skating on the court. In the fast break, the Green Wave had no answer to stop him.

He could pull up in transition for a 3-pointer. He could blow past defenders and evade the helpers with what has become his signature euro step, and when the play to score wasn’t there for him, he found his teammates too.

“There are some really good offensive guards, some talented kids,” Sampson said. “I don’t think there’s a better two-way player in this conference than Marcus Sasser. That’s why when you start thinking about who’s the best player in the league, look at both ends. That’s why I think Marcus is the best player.”

Sasser impacts winning in so many ways for the Cougars, Sampson said.

In a conference filled with various talented players, including Memphis’ DeAndre Williams and Kendric Davis, Tulane’s Cook, Temple’s Khalif Battle, and Cincinnati’s Landers Nolley II, none of them can match Sasser’s overall net output in Sampson’s mind.

Sasser is averaging 16.9 points, 3.3 assists, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.3 steals. He is averaging an 89.8 defensive rating this season, which is fourth in the conference, and he is averaging a 127.3 offensive rating, which is second in the league.

Whether the head coach’s argument resonates with the AAC voters of the award is yet to be seen. For Sasser, however, Sampson sticking up for him only highlights the bond the two share.

“That’s coach, man, he is really close-knit with us, and he’s like real close family with us,” Sasser said. “He’s always going to have our back. You know, it is always great to hear that from your head coach.”

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