Sampson’s vision for UH coming full circle for Atascocita alum White

March 28, 2019 GMT

When University of Houston coach Kelvin Sampson was recruiting Fabian White he had nothing but blueprints and a vision.

Sampson carried drawings of what the new Guy V. Lewis Development Facility would look like and talked about plans to renovate the aging Hofheinz Pavilion for the then-Atascocita High standout.

White, however, didn’t focus on the facilities, he listened to what his future coach said the Cougars could become.

Sampson’s vision has turned into a reality with Houston becoming one of the top basketball programs in the NCAA, White said.

“His passion and his vision is what I looked at,” White said. “I believed in him, and he believed in me. He was there at the beginning, recruiting me hard. He had a vision for us, and it’s nice to see all of it come true.”

The No. 3 Seed Cougars will take on No. 2 seed Kentucky at 8:59 p.m. Friday in Kanas City for a chance to go to the Elite 8. It is the first time Houston is in the Sweet 16 since Hakeem Olajuwon and his Phi Slama Jama teammates were competing for championships.

“It’s a blessing,” said White. “It’s good to rewrite history, but the season is not over yet, and we’re going to see how far we can go.”

White isn’t surprised that Sampson delivered on his vision. Sampson’s culture, determination and style of basketball is what the Houston program needed in order to get back to prominence, he said.

“That’s just a testament to what he always says about holding us accountable,” said the 6-foot-7 forward. “He brings the best out of us. That’s what he did, and its showing in our play. To look at how far we have come since I have been here has been special, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Atascocita coach David Martinez can recall talking with Sampson about his plans at Houston during his frequent recruiting visits.

“It’s unbelievable,” Martinez said about Sampson turning around Houston. “I remember when coach Sampson got the job, and I remember speaking to him when he was recruiting Fabian. He talked about the vision that the school had for UH.”

“You talk about starting from the ground up to where it is now,” he added. “That man painted the picture well for the city of Houston. The team bought in, and that’s not always easy to do. He’s got the right type of guys in there that play hard for him. It’s a top-notch program, and they’re starting to see the fruits of their labor.”

White started the season with an injured left foot, but found his way back in the starting lineup for the Cougars and hasn’t slowed down.

His first start came on Jan. 12 against Wichita State at home where he had 12 points, two rebounds and two blocks.

The former Atascocita standout has shined during the first two games of March Madness.

White had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds in the 84-55 win over Georgia State in the first round

He shot 50 percent from the field, scoring 11 points, grabbing five rebounds and two steals in the Cougars 74-59 win over Ohio State in the second round to advance to the Sweet 16.

White has learned a lot from his freshman to his sophomore season.

“They put me into a bigger role in my sophomore year,” White said. “My freshman year I sat back learned from Devin (Davis), but this year I had to step it up, especially in the second half of the season. Me and coach Kellen (Sampson) had a little talk about the four position. There was a little downfall there, but we picked it back up and we’re playing better now.”