JaKarr Sampson declared for the draft one month ago, and many (at least on Twitter) seem to think he should have stayed in school at St. John's, to improve in his junior season for the Red Storm. But he has been hard to work, getting his game in shape for NBA workouts and ignoring the doubters.
Rodger Bohn (who also lists work for Synergy Sports in his Twitter profile) posts on Sampson and his attempt to prove that he's draft-worthy for Slam Magazine, who has been tracking JaKarr in his post-St. John's workouts.
Jakarr, who has had a hitch in his shot throughout his entire career, has always been able to hit jumpers. But his role in St. John’s offense did not necessarily allow him to showcase that. Working with Johnson to clean up the form on his J, we saw even better results and far deeper range shooting the rock.
Going through everything from standstill NBA threes to one-dribble pull-ups to straight line attacks to the rack, we had the opportunity to see much of what Sampson had to offer as a face-up power forward. He’s got a great first step (especially going right) and was automatic raising up off of the bounce from mid-range. Once things extended to the NBA three-point arc, he showed the room for growth that he has down the road. Struggling with his first 25 three-pointers, Jakarr went on to hit 18 of his next 25, including 9-10 from the corners, which most NBA teams feel is the most important spot. While no one is saying that Sampson will be Doug McDermott, he is most definitely going to surprise teams in workouts with his range.
Later, JaKarr talks about his defense, and how he likes shutting down guards. St. John's saw the best of Sampson in two games against Doug McDermott, where he didn't shut him down, exactly, but certainly made him work. And that work from McDermott slowed the flow of the Creighton offense, giving St. John's a chance to be disruptive in other ways.
Sampson averaged 14 points and 6 rebounds in college, but only made one three-pointer in his career with the Red Storm.
Can he overcome what seem to be serious flaws in his on-court game in workouts? Possibly. St. John's offense, however, certainly gave him chances to showcase his shooting ability - which he did, in the mid-range. Sampson shot 46% on 2-pointers in 2012-13 and just under 50% in 2013-14. He shot 40% on shots classified as "jumpers" in the stat books - higher than the Division I average of 36%.
Does that - and his natural athletic ability - lead to a draftable player? Which teams would take a flyer on his talent?
And what's your take on the video below, produced by City Hoops TV?