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.
Brandon Sampson, the 6-foot-4 shooting guard, from Madison High School in Baton Rouge (LA), picked LSU over St. John’s and Oklahoma State on Monday morning.
“I’d like to further my education and my basketball career at Louisiana State University,” he announced at his school.
Sampson had committed to St. John’s on Jan. 12, but decommitted after Steve Lavin was fired last month.
New St. John’s coach Chris Mullin visited with Sampson on Saturday, but in the end he opted to stay home and play for the local school.
“Man, he could be a program-changer,” Madison coach Jeff Jones previously told SNY.tv. “He’s one of the few player’s who’s gotten better and better every year and he’s still tries to get better. He’s a hard worker. Very skilled shooter, but very athletic. Plays well above the rim. Whichever one of those programs he chooses, they’re going to get one heckuva player.”
LSU now has commitments from the No. 1 (Ben Simmons), No. 14 (Antonio Blakeney) and No. 39 (Sampson) players in the ESPN rankings in the Class of 2015.
They are also on the list for Malik Newman, the No. 4 player, although it remains unclear if Newman will still consider LSU now that they have two freshmen guards coming in in Blakeney and Sampson. Newman told SNY.tv last week that he won’t sign an NLI once he chooses his school. He is also considering Kentucky, Kansas, N.C. State, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
With all this talent in the fold, the pressure will now be on LSU coach Johnny Jones to win big next season as the 6-10 Simmons is likely to make a one-year cameo before heading to the NBA Draft. He is a projected top-3 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.
As for St. John’s, all three of Lavin’s commits for 2015 are now out of the mix as Arizona guard Sammy Barnes-Thompkins has re-opened his recruitment and Philadelphia guard Samir Doughty is also in flux.
Mullin has landed 6-11 Spanish big man Yankuba Sima, 6-8 former Iowa State pledge Darien Williams and 6-11 Tennessee transfer Tariq Owens, who must sit a year.
They remain in the mix for several transfers and recruits, including Cheick Diallo of Our Savior New American. The 6-9 Diallo was the MVP of the Jordan Brand Classic on Friday and the McDonald’s All-American Game and appears to be winding down on his recruitment.
Photo: (David Grunfeld, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
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.