‘I want a guy that people fear’: Inside the continued transformation of Houston’s Armoni Brooks

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After some searching, Sampson found the note he wanted, one from late October, before Houston (21-1) won its first 15 games and climbed to the AP poll’s No. 13 spot. To end a 7 a.m. practice, Sampson kicked his players out because they were “threatened by each other instead of embracing each other,” he said, reading from the note. “We have to learn to surrender (to one another) — cultivate relationships, guide your response, humility.”

The fifth-year Cougars coach basically needed his whole roster to act a little more like Armoni Brooks, the junior guard who has started every game this season but would’ve been just as happy continuing to come off the bench as the Cougars’ sixth man. Brooks is indifferent to recognition, and Sampson is still squeezing more intensity out of him. Sampson guesses that if he handed each of his players one of these sheets of notepad paper and asked them to write down the player no teammate has a problem with, they’d all list Brooks.