Covington Credits Kelvin Sampson For NBA Success

Sampson was an assistant with the Rockets when Covington was a rookie

Adam Spolane
February 11, 2020 - 3:10 pm

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) -- Whenever Kelvin Sampson took his Houston Cougars up to Philly he could always expect to see Robert Covington in the stands.

Sampson was the Rockets lead assistant when Covington signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee State, and no coach on the Rockets staff spent more time with the then 23-year old than Sampson. 

"He’s come a long way," Sampson told Fox 26 after the Rockets reacquired Covington in a four team trade last week.

Covington spent most of the 2013-14 season in the DLeague with Rio Grande Valley. He appeared in just seven NBA games and with Sampson at U of H, Covington was waived at the end of training camp the next season, but Sampson says he's not surprised Covington has turned himself into a solid NBA player. 

"Robert was one of those rookies that loved to be coached, and loved to be coached hard," Sampson said. "You can get on Robert."

Less than three weeks after the Rockets sent him packing, Covington landed with the Philadelphia 76ers where he became one of the premier 3-and-D wings in the NBA. He was a first team all defense selection two seasons ago, and he credits his time with Sampson as a reason for his success.

"He’s been around for a long time and he’s been very successful," Covington said of Sampson Monday. "So just ultimately having that time with him and just growing as a player, I got to learn a lot of knowledge from him. 

"Overall that year was very big for me."

In three games back with the Rockets, Covington's presence has been felt. He's averaging 12.3 points per game in close to 30 minutes while shooting close to 38 percent from behind the three-point line. 

"He's good at the two things Coach D'Antoni will use him," Sampson said. "He can really guard the ball and he can really shoot, and he’s a tough kid. That's a great pick up."

Covington said he watched Sampson's Cougars crush Wichita State Sunday afternoon, but you can expect to see him at the Feritta Center sometime soon.

"I gotta catch a game and just catch up with him."

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