Tuesday afternoon with the world tuned into his game thanks to ESPN's 24 hours of hoops, JaKarr Sampson raced down the court, received a pass, looked up and lofted the ball up... and missed a bunny layup.
"My energy was up there and I was going too fast and not playing my game. I was too energized and too hyper," Sampson told The New York Post Friday night after St. John's win against the College of Charleston.
Sampson didn't lose his energy heading down South for the Charleston Classic, but rather he controlled it and used it the way he was recruited to do.
JaKarr's game is simple: he slashes and attacks the rim. He showed off his jump shooting ability multiple times during the tournament, and even though it may look unconventional, Sampson finds the perfect release point to nail his shot.
In the first game of the tournament, Sampson got physical, grabbing 10 rebounds, showing off his length and reach. He scored 8 points to go along with the 10 rebounds, helping St. John's edge the Charleston Cougars.
Game two was probably Sampson's most complete game of the tournament.
Sampson scored 14 points while grabbing 7 rebounds continuing the trend of better play.
In the last game of the tournament versus No. 16 Baylor, JaKarr once again shined scoring 18 points and showing off his block shot ability, swatting 4 for the game.
Sampson gave fans a view of what he can do when he jumps. Mid-second half of the Baylor game, freshman Chris Obekpa (two points, four rebounds, two blocks) backed down his man, turned and shot. The ball hit the rim and bounced upward sending Sampson leaping in an attempt to slam down the ball should it come off the rim.
Good part, he slammed it down perfectly; bad part, he got called for offensive goal tending.
Regardless of the call, that is exactly what Sampson should be doing. Using his quickness and athleticism to attack the rim, draw fouls and get the team going.
All and all, Sampson is improving, growing confident and is increasing his reliability, not becoming a freshman liability.
St. John's may not have walked away with the hardware down in Charleston, going 1-2, but the Red Storm staff should be very excited for Sampson's emergence. It only adds another piece to an already strong, deep, and potentially deadly young team.