Mandatory Credit: Photo by Kevin M Cox/AP/Shutterstock (13652827i) Houston forward Reggie Chaney and North Florida forward Jonathan Aybar (21) get physical under the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, in Houston North Florida Basketball, Houston, United States – 06 Dec 2022
Reggie Chaney, the security blanket for the Houston Cougars basketball program
Houston Cougars basketball head coach Kelvin Sampson can always count on Reggie Chaney.
It doesn’t matter if he starts, comes off the bench, is put in the game early, or several minutes into a contest. Sampson knows exactly what he is going to get from the Tulsa, Oklahoma, native when he goes in. It has been the story for Chaney all season long.
“Reggie can sit over there for 12 minutes, go in at the eight-minute mark. It doesn’t bother him,” Sampson said. “He doesn’t think about anything other than how can I help the team, and he is a great teammate.”
Whenever Houston gets off to a slow start, Sampson knows if he puts Chaney in the game, the intensity will go up, junior forward J’Wan Roberts told Gallery Sports on Dec. 28 in Tulsa.
Chaney started for Houston’s Final Four team in 2021. He moved to a bench role last season when the Cougars brought in Josh Carlton, and at the same time, Chaney was also dealing with a tough hand injury that kept him from making a fist and even gripping a basketball for much of the season.
He missed a portion of the offseason getting surgery on his hand and knee to prepare for the new season, and now in 2022-23, the big man has not only been called upon in big games, but he has also become a key veteran figure for the younger faces on the program, especially sophomore center Ja’Vier Francis, Sampson said.
“He’s an integral part to our team,” Sampson told reporters in a Friday morning Zoom call. “He is also in his fifth year, and he has kind of taken a lot of these young guys under his wing. He’s done a great job of helping Jarace [Walker] and Ja’Vier.”
During Houston’s practices, Chaney will pull Francis aside and talk to him.
“If I make a mistake, he’ll tell me what I did wrong, how to fix it, and what coach likes,” said Francis after Houston’s win over McNeese.
An example of Chaney’s leadership came on Thursday afternoon, Sampson said. After UH’s 89-50 victory over Tulsa on Dec. 28 the Cougars got into the city in the early hours of the morning on Thursday, Sampson added.
Because UH plays Central Florida on Saturday, the team had to make a quick turnaround and get into the meat of their game plan against UCF that same Thursday, the head coach stated.
Despite being less than 24 hours removed from competing in a road game, Sampson could still hear Chaney talking to Francis late Thursday afternoon.
Houston was going over a few of its defensive rotations and expectations on Thursday, and Chaney was telling Francis how he should play a specific situation and what coach means when he gives a specific call, Sampson said.
“He’s kind of taken him under his wing,” Sampson said. “That is fortunate for Ja’Vier that he’s got a veteran that cares. Right now, Ja’Vier goes in the game before Reggie. Reggie is over there telling Ja’Vier here is what coach means [with specific situations].”
Chaney’s leadership extends beyond just Francis too. The team knows that regardless of the situation, they can count on one constant — Chaney.
“You can put Reggie anywhere,” Roberts said. “Home games, road games, any game, he is going to play hard regardless. That’s just the type of person that he is. Never lets the outsiders tell him how to play. He knows his role on the team, and he knows how to impact it.”