If you take Kelvin Sampson at his word, the head coach of the Houston Cougars thinks that one of the more luminous talents on his roster hasn’t yet hit his ceiling. If DeJon Jarreau can hit that ceiling in the second half of March, Houston could be a problem for every other team in its path.
Sampson’s Houston team moved to 24-1 this season with a 71-63 win over Connecticut on Thursday night in Hartford. Jarreau delivered 18 points and seven assists to keep the Cougars in the conversation for a No. 2 seed. The American Athletic Conference involves a lot of long commutes, Houston to Hartford being one of them. The Cougars could have gotten bored or mentally fatigued against the Huskies, but they uncorked a 17-4 run at the start of the second half to establish full control.
Jarreau was a central part of that rally, and as good as he is right now, Sampson sees another layer of potential in the transfer from Massachusetts:
“Probably our most talented kid is Jarreau,” Sampson said. “He’s still not there yet. I see him in practice every day do some things that he hasn’t quite let himself do in games.”
Jarreau still has a full month to build toward the NCAA Tournament, when new faces make an imprint on the nation’s communities of sports fans. Last year, Rob Gray was the Houston star who dazzled every basketball junkie in the United States. This year, Jarreau could be that same performer. Last year, Houston’s NCAA run was stopped by a team which went all the way to the national championship game, the Michigan Wolverines.
If Jarreau can become the player Kelvin Sampson thinks he is capable of becoming, Houston — a city which is home to NASA’s Lyndon Johnson Space Center — could climb to the stratosphere of the college basketball world in several weeks.
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