Terrance Arceneaux the ‘winner’: A look at the freshman’s first year with Houston

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Dave Crenshaw/AP/Shutterstock (13687067p) Houston’s Terrance Arceneaux drives against Tulsa’s Jesaiah McWright during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, in Tulsa, Okla Houston Basketball, Tulsa, United States – 28 Dec 2022

Terrance Arceneaux the ‘winner’: A look at the freshman’s first year with Houston

Houston Cougars guard Terrance Arceneaux has experienced a freshman season filled with stretches of limited minutes.

He plays behind senior guard and All-American Marcus Sasser, junior guard Jamal Shead, redshirt sophomore guard Tramon Mark and redshirt freshman Emanuel Sharp. Arceneaux, however, has quietly been learning and taking it all in behind closed doors for Houston.

Arceneaux recently started his first collegiate game in the American Athletic Conference Tournament Championship against Memphis. The Beaumont native played 35 minutes due to Sasser missing the game with a groin injury.

Head coach Kelvin Sampson said moments like that offer Houston a chance to invest in its future.

​​“It’s been a great experience going through this with the guys, some of the older guys, you know, learning from them and different things like that,” Arceneaux said.

On Monday night, he was a guest on Kelvin Sampson’s radio show to recognize his solid performance against Memphis on Sunday. He had nine points and offered several good moments, including getting three offensive rebounds, which Sampson prioritizes.

“It’s definitely been different from high school, I can say that,” Arceneaux stated.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by LM Otero/AP/Shutterstock (13814419y) Memphis forward Malcolm Dandridge (23) shoots between Houston forward Reggie Chaney (32) and guard Terrance Arceneaux (23) during the first half in the finals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament, in Fort Worth, Texas AAC Memphis Houston Basketball, Fort Worth, United States – 12 Mar 2023

The 6-5 guard has experienced a learning curve with Houston.

After starring at Beaumont United High School and leading the Timberwolves to back-to-back state championships, Arceneaux had to pivot and learn how to come off the bench for the Cougars for the first time in his life, Sampson said.

The Houston Cougars basketball program has become known for multiple things throughout the last few seasons under Sampson. One of the big ones has been player development. It is one of the reasons why Arceneaux chose to go to Houston.

Arceneaux was first on the Cougars’ radar as a sophomore at Beaumont United. Assistant coach Kellen Sampson went to watch a game between Dickinson High School and Beaumont United in 2019.

Kellen was there to see guard Tramon Mark, who was just beginning his senior season. Another player for the Timberwolves caught Kellen’s eye: a young kid that was making several plays against Dickinson, he told Gallery Sports.

“We liked him,” Kellen said. “We liked his frame, how athletic he was, how long his arms were. He always had a knack for being around the ball. It kind of started then.”

The COVID-19 pandemic hit toward the end of Arceneaux’s sophomore season. Unable to meet him in person, Houston stayed in touch by holding Zoom calls with both him and his parents. UH wanted to make sure there was no mistake about its desire to land Arceneaux.

“We were all in,” Kellen said. “He was always the No. 1 target at his position in that class.”

Not every player coaches contact while recruiting create an immediate spark. For Kellen and Arceneaux, that connection was almost instantaneous.

“The first time I met [Kellen] was kind of funny,” Arceneaux told Gallery Sports earlier this season. “I was like, ‘man, he hyper.’ He was just like so energized and happy, and I’m like, ‘man what are you so happy about.’ I think the first time I ever talked to him was on a phone call.”

“He was like, ‘hey dude,’ and how like he always talks,” Arceneaux recalled with a smile. “And ever since then, we built that bond, and I love him to death.”

Arceneaux has had to make many adjustments in his first year with Houston. Arceneaux trusts Kellen and asks for clarification for things he might not have a grasp of, he stated.

Arceneaux has had to get used to the speed of the game.

“You got to be a quick thinker when you’re out on the court since everything is so much faster,” Arceneaux said.

The two players that have helped Arceneaux the most throughout the year have been Jamal Shead and Marcus Sasser. Arceneaux explained that Shead is a vocal leader, while Sasser gives him examples and shows him how things are done.

All of Arceneaux’s teammates want him to be confident.

“I don’t think Terrance knows how good of a shooter he is yet,” junior forward J’Wan Roberts remarked after Houston’s loss to Memphis. “Every time [he] shoots the ball, even though my job is to offensive rebound, I always think it’s going to go in.

“He’s 6-7. He’s going to get a shot off regardless, so any space that he gets, I always tell him, shoot it. That’s going to be your confidence right there. We want you to shoot the ball.”

Arceneaux’s best basketball is ahead of him, Kelvin Sampson said on Monday.

While he likely will not see the floor for as much as he did in the AAC Championship game in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, he is not far away from being called upon to make a big play. When the time comes, the team wants him to trust in himself.

“The one thing Terrance is, and this is not an opinion, this is a fact, he is a winner. He makes winning plays,” Sampson said.

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