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JaKarr Sampson leaving St. John’s for NBA Draft

Mar 24, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT

Marquette v St John's Getty Images

St. John’s forward JaKarr Sampson won Big East Rookie of the Year last season and considered jumping to the NBA.

He returned to schooland as is the tendency – didn’t improve all that much.

His jump shot got a little better, helping him increase his field-goal percentage from 45 to 49. But he still doesn’t have 3-point range, and his game has stagnated more than not. He’s still an extremely athletic 6-foot-8 power forward with decent upside, but his college production has yet to match his potential.

So, he’s decided enough with college.

St. John’s release:

St. John’s sophomore forward JaKarr Sampson, the 2012-13 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, announced Monday that he intends to forego the remainder of his collegiate career and enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

“JaKarr will forego his final two years of eligibility and pursue his dream of playing in the NBA. We are grateful for JaKarr’s contributions to our St. John’s basketball program,” said Red Storm head coach Steve Lavin. “In speaking with NBA general managers JaKarr is projected as a draft prospect with intriguing talent and upside.”

ESPN ranks Sampson 137 overall, and he doesn’t crack DraftExpress’ top 100. (For reference, DraftExpress ranks him No. 33 among sophomores, and 31 sophomores made the top 100.)

It really seems unlikely he gets drafted, though it takes just one team to fall for his physical tools and believe it can groom him.

But I will never criticize a player for turning pro. There are way too many factors were ignorant of – how he’s doing in school, how he likes school, how much he needs the money, etc. People, not just basketball players, disenroll from college all the time.

Sampson was ineligible for what was supposed to be his freshman season, indicating a possible reason for him departing (and making him a year older than his classmates, lowering his NBA stock). Regardless, professional basketball, even if not the NBA, might better prepare him for a future in the sport. And in the meantime, he’ll get paid for playing.

The St. John’s release says Sampson is in the process of hiring an agent, so it looks like there’s no turning back. I hope Sampson didn’t make this decision on the assumption he’ll get drafted, but as long as he’s comfortable with the contingency options, this could work out better than it would have had Sampson stayed for his junior season.

  1. genericcommenter - Mar 24, 2014 at 8:31 PM

    Teams like to draft guys in the 2nd round they never plan on having on the team, for some reason. So he could be a 2nd round guy who the team “encourages” to play overseas and “check back next year” year after year, to be eventually used as a trade throw-in and cut by some other team. Or he could be a UDFA Summer League body and eventual D League body.

  2. ihavenonickname - Mar 24, 2014 at 9:23 PM

    honestly,for some people college just isn’t the best option. This could be a fine decision even if he never plays in the nba, Go to Europe, use the gifts you’ve been given, get paid!

    • dinofrank60 - Mar 24, 2014 at 10:21 PM

      I think it’s time to leave the college game to kids that want to stay in school. Or course, if any of them get really good, they’ll be pressured to come out. That’ll be something a kid refusing to come out; he would get scorched. Admired, but beat up.

      Meanwhile, let’s see the kids who do come out be tested. You want to play, fine. Do what you’re supposed to do. That might be cutthroat, but must see tv. If they don’t hold your hand overseas, they shouldn’t here. So you want to be paid, learn to be a pro. Some of these kids, if they could make it, might be at least productive players.

  3. dinofrank60 - Mar 24, 2014 at 10:08 PM

    Ok, he didn’t improve his game in college, but miraculously it will get better when he joins the pros? He declares for the draft, but we hope he didn’t make the decision thinking he’ll be drafted?


  4. robertjamis - Mar 24, 2014 at 11:32 PM

    He’s leaving because Steve Lavin is a total fraud who can’t help him anymore. In the three years since Sampson arrived at Saint John’s, he’s flatlined at best, regressed at worst. His jumper is primitive, he has very poor court awareness, and he commits very dumb turnovers. He’s still the raw talent that entered St. John’s, but that’s problematic at this point.

    I think this is a desperate move by a player who knows his coach can’t help him at all. He’s not a bad kid. I wish him the best.

  5. metalhead65 - Mar 25, 2014 at 7:51 AM

    while it is true kids quit college all the time they do it for reasons other than thinking they are quitting to get a great paying job right away and that everyone should feel sorry for them if they don’t. good luck to the kid but hope he has a plan when this NBA thing does not work out for him. good paying jobs in the real world are hard to come by for qualified people let alone drop outs with no skills other than dribbling a basketball.

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