Upon receiving awards bestowed on the New York area's best collegiate players by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association (MBWA), Harrison and Sampson each assured the Red Storm family that they both fully intend on returning to the program for another season.
Sampson, who also received the Big East Rookie of the Year Award in March, was named the MBWA Rookie of the Year after averaging 14.9 points and 6.6 rebounds during his freshman campaign with the Johnnies. Though he was unable to attend the annual dinner in Westchester's Tarrytown, Sampson made clear that he will return for his sophomore year and not enter the NBA Draft.
"We'll have a deep team next year with Orlando Sanchez, Max Hooper and God`sgift Achiuwa being able to play so I think we're going to be good," Sampson said. "It was fun watching the NCAA Tournament and watching my best friend Mitch McGary from Michigan. It made me want to be there and hopefully we can do big things next year."
As the year progressed, discussions of whether Sampson would pursue the professional ranks were often held. But, unlike last year's Big East and MBWA Rookie of the Year Moe Harkless, Sampson's draft stock was not high enough to warrant an early departure from St. John's.
His teammate D`Angelo Harrison was also recognized by the MBWA on Monday night, despite missing the remainder of the season after March 1st due to a behavioral-induced suspension. Harrison was named to the All-Metropolitan First Team after finishing the year third in the Big East in scoring (17.8 points per game) and reaching the 1,000 point mark in February of his sophomore season.
Harrison attended Monday's dinner, and discussed his suspension, his intentions of returning to St. John's, and the road back to playing at an elite level.
"I was suspended for disciplinary reasons," Harrison expressed. "Obviously it is hard to be suspended from the team but I have been repairing those relationships with the coaching staff and I understand why they did it."
Harrison has been with his teammates and coaching staff ever since the conclusion of the Red Storm's season, using the experience to learn and working hard to get back. With the lethal scorer returning for the 2013-14 season along with welcoming Sanchez, Hooper, and heralded recruit Rysheed Jordan, the Johnnies could be looking at its most promising year in quite some time.
"Taking time away from the game was good because I could be a regular student and not have pressure on me all the time," Harrison continued. "[I'm working to] stay in shape, work with the coaches, do well academically and focus on taking the steps necessary to earn my way back on the team."
If Harrison does so successfully, Steve Lavin will welcome him back with open arms. With a duo of the best players the Metropolitan area has to offer, Lavin will undoubtedly have his best roster yet at St. John's as he enters his fourth season in Queens.
"We are pleased JaKarr and D'Angelo are being recognized by the Met writers for their performances this past season," Lavin mentioned. "D'Angelo has responded to his suspension in an admirable and mature manner. We are hopeful with a productive spring and summer performance he will be able to earn his way back on to our team."
Who knows? Perhaps a productive spring and summer from Harrison is the only thing sitting between St. John's today and a Michigan-like run twelve months from now.