Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
St. John’s may have missed out on Isaiah Briscoe when he chose Kentucky, but on Monday they added an elite guard prospect in Brandon Sampson.
The 6-foot-4 shooting guard, from Madison High School in Baton Rouge (LA), has picked St. John’s University over USC and Cal.
“Coach [Steve] Lavin was really consistently recruiting him,” Madison coach Jeff Jones told SNY.tv. “He was a priority, they really needed him, which was important to him. Coach Lavin was very consistent that [Sampson] has a chance to come in, play and start right away as a freshman. With D’Angelo [Harrison] graduating, he has a chance to kind of fill that void.”
A long, athletic guard who can penetrate and shoot it, Sampson is ranked the No. 13 shooting guard in the Class of 2015 by 247Sports.com.
“They’ll be getting a very exciting player,” Jones said. “A kid with an outstanding jump shot, a high-level athlete. I think he will bring a high degree of excitement to the St. John’s team next year.”
Sampson is St. John’s second commit in 2015, following 6-4 Philadelphia combo guard Samir Doughty,who pledged in November.
Sampson took an official visit to St. John’s in October along with Briscoe and Our Savior New American forward Cheick Diallo, who remains uncommitted.
“He was blown away on his visit and loved the idea of playing in Madison Square Garden and in a big media market in New York,” Jones said of Sampson. “All those things kind of factored in for him.”
St. John’s loses four seniors next year in Harrison, Sir’Dominic Pointer, Jamal Branch and Phil Greene IV, and could lose sophomore guard Rysheed Jordan and/or junior big man Chris Obekpa to the pros.
Lavin still must land several more pieces going forward and the point guard position remains critical.
Briscoe is taking his talents to Kentucky and Jordan’s future remains uncertain. He recently took a one-game leave of absence and has had other issues during his tenure at St. John’s. He’s ranked as a late second-round pick in 2016 by DraftExpress.com.
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.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.