Steve Lavin has reeled in one of his longtime targets in Brandon Sampson, receiving a verbal commitment from the top-50 ranked Louisiana guard this weekend, the second recruit of the 2014 recruiting cycle, following Samir Doughty's commitment in February.
The 6'4" guard from Madison Prep in Baton Rouge was down to California, USC and St. John's after Antonio Blakeney committed to hometown school Louisiana State.
Sampson's commitment is huge for a St. John's team whose roster will lose most of the major contributors of this year - D`Angelo Harrison, Phil Greene IV, Sir`Dominic Pointer and Jamal Branch - with sophomore guard Rysheed Jordan and Chris Obekpa, the junior who anchors the defense, likely to think about going pro as well.
Evan Daniels of Scout.com had the news this morning. Sampson's coach, Jeff Jones, said that Steve Lavin and St. John's had been on him since the eighth grade; one of the appeals to coming to St. John's is the chance to start as a freshman.
From Scout.com's evaluation of Brandon Sampson:
Sampson, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, is a gifted athlete. He bounces off the ground with ease and has a quick first step. While his athleticism is a strength, there’s more to his game. His jump shot is a weapon and he’s a solid three-point shooter.
Zach Braziller of the NY Post asked for more intel from Daniels, who responded:
"I think his shotmaking ability and athleticism can impact St. John’s right away," Scout.com national recruiting analyst Evan Daniels said in a phone interview. "He needs to spruce up his ball handling and his shot selection at times, but he’s loaded with talent and they need his scoring output."
And more from the Post:
Lavin made an impact on Sampson and his family, developing a bond with them and convincing them he will be around for the long haul, despite his iffy contract status. Lavin has just one year left on his initial six-year deal.
Jeff Borzello on ESPN chimes in with another quote from the Madison Prep coach:
"I think he fits perfectly there," Jones said. "He's a high-level athlete. He's an outstanding jump shooter. That free flowing play fits his game. He's going to be able to come in and score the ball for them. They needed him more than they wanted him."
Adam Zagoria has this nugget about forward target Cheick Diallo:
Sources said the 6-9 Diallo is keeping an eye on what St. John’s does at the point guard position.
"We need to see who is at the point guard by April," one source close to Diallo said. "All that’s crucial for Cheick."
The source said Diallo, who is also considering Kansas, Kentucky, Iowa State and Pittsburgh, will decide in "late April."
Despite being young and inexperienced, a roster with the scholarship players and walk-ons assumed to return - Christian Jones, Amar Alibegovic, Felix Balamou, Myles Stewart, Adonis Delarosa and Joey Delarosa - along with Samir Doughty, Brandon Sampson and a talented defensive forward like Cheick Diallo could compete in the Big East.
Steve Lavin continues to look to restock the Johnnies with top-level talent for 2015. Guard Marcus Lovett from Chicago and forward Deshawn Freeman of Hutchinson Community College remain targets as well.