The Houston Swiss Army Knife: University of Houston Guard Marcus Sasser continues to refine his game as Houston holds the No. 1 ranking in the nation

HOUSTON, Texas- If there was a Swiss Army Knife in basketball Marcus Sasser might be the closest thing to it. The University of Houston guard has done everything over the past four years at the collegiate level to make him a star in the NBA. It wasn’t always butterflies and rainbows for Sasser and the Cougars though. 

Sasser attended Red Oak High School in Red Oak, Texas where he would leave just a three star recruit. Sasser wasn’t recruited highly, and when his hometown University of Houston won the bidding over Colorado State and UTEP, Sasser wasn’t expected to be the star he became today. Sasser was redshirted upon arriving on campus and didn’t see the court in his freshman season till coming off the bench.

It was in a game against Rice where Sasser showed he was the real deal. He scored 15 points all from behind the arch in 36 minutes shooting 62.5% from three. To end the 2019-2020 season, Sasser averaged 8.1 points per game shooting 35.2% from behind the arch.  

In his sophomore season, Sasser continued to build upon his game becoming a focal point of the offense and focusing on shot creating for himself instead of being a pick and pop shooter. 

Sasser had piqued the interest of every NBA team after a spectacular junior season ended because of a left foot injury. Still he averaged over 17 points and was shooting 43% from three. 

When the April 24 deadline for undergraduate players declaring for the draft was fast approaching, Sasser continued to workout with NBA programs while talking to Houston Head Coach Kelvin Sampson. Even the Houston Chronicle ran an April 7 headline that confirmed Sasser leaving for the league. 

Sasser however, realized that Houston, who in a way to early ranking held the No. 2 spot in the nation, was primed to win their first national championship in the school’s history. The catalyst to their team he also knew, was him.   

So at 8-0 Sasser isn’t regretting the decision to stay another year at Houston and make a run at the championship. 

Sasser said to the Houston Chronicle, “I’m really happy now… I feel like the best decision was made, and I feel like it’s showing.”

Sasser is showing a whole new side to his game this season. Debuting some of the best handles in college basketball, maybe in basketball anywhere, Sasser’s ability to create for others as well as himself makes him one of the most sought after point guards in this upcoming NBA Draft.

His pick and roll play has jumped off the page to many NBA scouts, as well as his ability to shoot off the dribble. His passing and defensive play has taken leaps forward this season compared to his sophomore and junior years. 

Even when his shot isn’t falling, Sasser is making an impact on the game. In a Nov. 16 bout against Texas Southern, Sasser was 0-6 from behind the arch and still ended with 20 points, six assists and only one turnover. 

Through eight games this season, Sasser is averaging over 17 points per game, two steals, three assists and three rebounds. His ability to do everything on the floor has pushed the Cougars to the No. 1 spot in the nation. 

While Sasser is a big part of Houston’s success, it’s the way that this team plays that has caught the college basketball landscape off balance. 

Pressure all over the court from start to finish has helped the Cougars attain the top spot in the polls for the first time in 39 years. During a Nov. 29 win versus Norfolk State, Houston forced five turnovers in the first 3:38 of the game. 

This season Houston on the defensive end of the ball averages almost 10 steals and five blocks per game. They haven’t allowed an opposing team to score over 60 points this season and have beaten every team except one by double digits.

On the offensive side of the ball, Houston has scored over 80 points in five of their first eight games. Although led by Sasser, Houston has no shortage of stars to compliment their point guard. 

Tramon Mark, a junior guard, is ready to accept the reins to the Houston backcourt next season when Sasser moves on, but is putting together quite the 2022-2023 campaign. Mark is averaging 10 points per game and has added 4 rebounds from the guard position.

Complimenting the back court, the front court pairing of freshman Jarace Walker and junior J’Wan Roberts have made their share of starts for the Cougars at the forward positions.

Walker, who was ESPN’s No. 10 ranked national player in the 2021-2022 class has wasted no time making a name for himself at Houston. This season he averages 10 points per game including a 23 point outburst against Saint Joseph’s (PA). 

Roberts, who wasn’t as highly rated as Walker, has fought tooth and nail to earn a spot at the top of the Houston lineup. Originally being born on St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands, he moved to Houston when he finished his eighth grade year to pursue his basketball dreams. That led him to a Cougar squad that was in need of depth, especially depth that wouldn’t shy away from the boards. 

So far this season, Roberts has hauled in almost seven rebounds again while adding just shy of 1.5 blocks. He has provided the bang for this year’s Houston team full of talent.  

Houston as a whole has come out of the blocks hot to retain the No. 1 ranking in the nation. They’ll look to continue their impressive start as they run into ranked opponents including No. 8 Alabama and No.3 Virginia. 

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