Kelvin Sampson is a talking master class


Some coaches just don’t get it. They see public appearances as a “have to” instead of a “want to.” They see the media as adversarial when that hasn’t really been true in decades. They do not see the purpose of engaging with the fan base through the media.

And then there’s Kelvin Sampson.

During a 20- or 30-minute Kelvin Sampson press conference, anyone paying attention will learn something. And they’ll see the master working his craft: Sampson can go through dozens of emotions but always makes his point. He uses his media availability to teach Xs and Os; to send messages to his players and, sometimes, to fans; to joke with Assistant AD of Communications Jeff Conrad; to show frustration; to tell stories about his grandkids or his wife Karen; to build up the University; to mock reporters; to tell stories; to talk up opponents and praise them for a great performance; to explain his methods, and to discuss life.

Fans and media alike love listening in on his sessions. Even when he’s mocking a reporter, the others eat it up (especially when the reporter doesn’t know he’s being mocked). Kelvin is always a master class in achieving his goals when speaking to the media.

Thursday, in a Zoom call to preview the Rice game, Kelvin explained that recruiting is an overused term and that his staff focuses on evaluating high school and JUCO players.

“We evaluate a lot of these really good players. And we’ve come to the conclusion we’d rather coach against some of them,” Kelvin deadpanned.

He went on to talk about this week’s signing of five-star prospect Jarace Walker. As he often does, Kelvin worked to correct the expectations of the media and the fan base.

“As soon as somebody sees the ‘five star’ then the expectations just become stupid,” Kelvin opined. “They start thinking they are one-and-dones and they’re saviors and then when they’re not, ‘what did they do?’

“Jarace is a work in progress. He needs to get a lot better. He’s not going to come in here and light the world on fire. That’s not who he is.

“And we explained that to him. I mean, I’m brutally honest with all these kids that we recruit. We don’t promise them the moon or tell them they’re gonna come in and start or get all the shots. I don’t do that.

“There’s a reason why we coach kids the way we do and we get the results we do.”

Asked how Jarace Walker fits in with a program of less-heralded guys, Kelvin is open about his process:

“I don’t see the stars, literally (laughs), I don’t pay any attention to that…People care more about where your recruiting class is rated. I have no idea. You guys probably know better than I do. Have we had a recruiting class that’s been rated since we’ve been here? I’m asking seriously ’cause I don’t know.

“I don’t care about that stuff. I really don’t. As far as I’m concerned, Jarace isn’t a five-star. He’s a kid that needs to get developed and he chose to come here.”

Our photographer Mario Puente @LifeofMarioP sat through Sampson’s postgame presser after Hofstra and documented some of the wide world of Kelvin Sampson emotions:

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