Kelvin Sampson enters his first season with the Houston Rockets as an assistant coach on Kevin McHale’s staff. A two-time NCAA National Coach of the Year winner, Sampson joins the Rockets after spending three seasons as an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks.
During his time with the Bucks, Sampson was part of a staff that helped Milwaukee’s defense improve from 15th in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions in 2008-09, to second in 2009-10 and fourth in the league in 2010-11.
Prior to moving into the NBA, Sampson served two seasons as head coach at Indiana University (2006-08) where his teams went 43-15 (.741) and received NCAA Tournament bids in both of his two campaigns. His biggest success came during his 12 seasons at Oklahoma University (1994-2006) where Sampson earned two National Coach of the Year Awards (AP in 1995 and NABC in 2002), made 12 postseason showings in 12 seasons (11 NCAA and one NIT), advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 (1999), Final Four (2002) and Elite Eight (2003), captured three Big 12 Tournament championships (2001, 2002 and 2003) and shared the 2005 Big 12 regular season title with Kansas. Sampson won at least 20 games in each of his final nine seasons at OU and finished with a 279-109 (.719) record with the Sooners.
Sampson went to Oklahoma from Washington State where he was as an assistant before being named head coach. Overall, he went 103-103 (.500) with the Cougars (1987-94) and was twice named Kodak District 14 Coach of the Year by the NABC (1990-91 and 1991-92), as well as earning Pac-10 Coach of the Year (1991-92). He began his collegiate head coaching career at Montana Tech (1981-85), winning two regular season titles and one Frontier Conference championship. Over his final four seasons, he guided the Orediggers to a 73-45 (.619) mark. Montana Tech had won just 17 games combined in the three years prior to his arrival. Sampson was also named the league’s Coach of the Year twice (1983 and 1985).
In addition to his successful collegiate and NBA coaching stints, Sampson has extensive experience working with USA Basketball, which includes winning the 2004 World Championship for Young Men. He has served as a head coach and assistant on various Olympic levels in 1993, 1994, 1995, 2002 and 2004.
Raised in Pembroke, North Carolina, Sampson earned his bachelor’s degree at Pembroke State University and a master’s degree at Michigan State. He also served one season (1979-80) as a graduate assistant under Jud Heathcote with the Spartans. He was inducted into the Montana Tech Hall of Fame in 1996 and into the Pembroke State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998.