With Houston leaving the AAC for the Big 12 this past offseason, head coach Kelvin Sampson; a former Big 12 head coach at Oklahoma, stepped up to the challenge and brought in two transfer portal recruits that’ll help the Cougars to manage this transition to power-5 competition.
While Marcus Sasser and Jarace Walker departed for the NBA Draft back in late June, Sampson’s tough and physical defensive style won’t change and his recruiting over the offseason has highlighted that.
Former top-100 prospect and 2022-23 All-Big 12 Third Team selection LJ Cryer transfers interconference from Baylor where he’ll take over for Sasser as the Cougars lead ball hander.
Cryer certainly brings an offensive reputation that saw him average 15 PPG and 2.1 APG for the Bears last season, but he’ll need to improve vastly on the defensive end if he wants to match Sasser’s tenacity.
Having veteran returners like 2022-23 AAC Defensive Player of the Year Jamal Shead, along with 2022-23 AAC Most Improved Player J’Wan Roberts, should help Cryer to learn the Cougars physical style and develop on the defensive end.
Moving over from the ACC with Houston is former Temple guard Damian Dunn, a 6-foot-5 graduate transfer who averaged 15.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 3 APG for the Owls last season.
Dunn adds another veteran ball handler to this Cougars rotation and is a more than capable scorer and rebounder, all of which undoubtedly made Sampson eager to secure his transfer this past offseason.
In fact, Dunn was Houston’s second leading scorer in last night’s 84-31 opening day win over Louisiana-Monroe, managing 18 points, 3 rebounds, and a steal in just 17 minutes played off the bench.
— UH Sports (@uhsportstalk) November 7, 2023
Between the additions of Dunn, Cryer, and a quickly developing cast of returners, Houston and Sampson will have no problem transitioning to the Big 12 and will be Conference Championship contenders by seasons end.