Sam Houston Bearkats: National Champions.
Has a nice ring to it, right? Well, at least heading into the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, the Sam Houston football team has something to celebrate. For the men’s basketball team, they have had to live with a heartbreaking loss to end what was a very good 2020-21 season. Lamar’s Avery Sullivan hit a free throw with no time left to end the Bearkats season prematurely. Sam Houston was 19-8 overall heading into the Southland Conference Tournament and the No. 3 seed with a 13-3 conference record. Despite leading scorer Zach Nuttall going for a game-high 30 points, the Bearkats season was cut short. Now, head coach Jason Hooten has to replace Nuttall and the Bearkats join a loaded Western Athletic Conference in 2021-22.
Jason Hooten, 11th season
Overall – 216-139
At SHSU – 216-139 (127-61 in Southland)
Postseason – Lost in first round of Southland Conference Tournament
Zach Nuttall, 6-3, JR, G
Bryce Monroe, 5-11, FR, G
Savion Flagg, 6-7, GR, G/F (Texas A&M)
Kuba Karwowski, 7-2, GR, C (Utah State)
Kevin Martina, 6-7, F (Switzerland)
Demarkus Lampley, 6-2, SR, G
Tristan Ikpe, 6-6, JR, F
Jared Cook, 6-4, FR, G
Javion May, 5-10, JR, G
Donte Powers, 6-2, JR, G
Predicted WAC Finish
People will question why Sam Houston is picked to finish seventh in the newly revamped WAC. Simply put, how in the world do you replace a player like Zach Nuttal? Nuttal led Sam Houston at 19.4 points per game and in his final game as a Bearkat, dropped 30 points on Lamar. And that is a big reason why Zach Nuttall was the Southland Conference Player of the Year.
So, who does Jason Hooten turn to? In the offseason, Hooten and his staff went out and pulled a fast one on the college basketball world. Welcome to Sam Houston, Savion Flagg. The Texas A&M transfer is capable of filling the void left by Nuttall’s departure. At 6-7, Flagg has the ability to stretch the floor while creating havoc in the paint. Yes, Flagg’s stats at Texas A&M don’t grab your attention but his athleticism and versatility make him a potential All-WAC performer.
Not only did Hooten and his staff pull in Flagg, they also added size. Utah State transfer Kuba Karwowski at 7-2 is a big body in the paint. Karwowski only appeared in 19 games in Logan so his legs are fresh and we have seen what transferring big men have done in the WAC in recent years.
It’s crazy to think that Sam Houston returns four starters from 2020-21 and yet they are selected this low. Well, Demarkus Lampley who returns for one last run at Sam Houston was the only other Bearkat in double figures in 2020-21. Lampley averaged 14.7 points while shooting 45 percent from the floor and nearly 40 percent from 3-point range. If Savion Flagg can be efficient on the offensive end and Lampley get help from one of the other talented guards on the roster, Sam Houston might surprise people.
Defensively, Sam Houston was very good in 2020-21. The Bearkats held opponents to just over 70 points per game while holding teams to less than 30 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Sam Houston will play in the Don Haskins Invitational Dec. 21-22 in El Paso. Sam Houston is also slated to play in the Jacksonville Classic along with Northern Illinois, Little Rock, and Boston U. The Bearkats will travel to Austin to take on Texas on Nov. 29. This list will be updated more as we move forward.