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Former St. John's forward JaKarr Sampson makes 76ers opening night roster

The Ohio native and undrafted free agent makes NBA roster on the strength of defense, potential.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

There are not many names on the 76ers opening night roster that the average fan will recognize - although one name will stand out for St. John's fans.

JaKarr Sampson, the sophomore star who left the Red Storm early to pursue his dream, has officially made the 76ers opening night roster.

After leaving school early and not being drafted, Sampson was considered a long shot to make a NBA roster - even with a partially-guaranteed deal. However, after an impressive showing in the summer league and the preseason, Sampson has earned a roster spot.

The 76ers are projected to be the worst team in the NBA which might actually be a good thing for Sampson. There will be plenty of playing time to go around and more opportunities for Sampson to develop his game.

In the preseason Sampson showed off an improved jump shot and even knocked down a couple of long range shots. However, Sampson's time in the NBA will hinge on what he brings on the defensive side of the floor. The Ohio native is athletic and has the body to guard multiple positions in the NBA.

In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer/ Philly.com, 76ers coach Brett Brown discussed Sampson's defensive potential.  'I think that he, at the moment, would be among our better defenders," Brown said, "which is really what we're trying to most pay attention to this year, how we build our program. I think everybody from time to time has stood out, but he recently has caught our eye and is somebody we're excited to develop."

Sampson's offense is far behind his defense, which might lead to a stint in the D-league with the Delaware 87's. In order to stick in the NBA, Sampson must improve his jumper and learn to score in half-court sets.

In addition, Sampson will have to adjust to playing without the ball. At St. John's Sampson was one of the go to guys in the offense and had the second highest usage on the team last year at 24.9% of the team's possessions.

Sampson joins Maurice Harkless as the second former Steve Lavin recruit to make a NBA roster. This can only help St. John's attract players to their program.