“The concussion really held me out earlier this summer,” Sampson said. “I still have a little bit of a headache, but it’s OK. I really wanted to get out here and compete in front of these coaches and for my team.”
Sampson has earned recent attention from several coaching staffs across the county, but, for a few of them, this was their first opportunity to see him in a game environment. UCLA, one of the schools that’s recruiting him hardest, fell into that category.
“For about a month, they were just recruiting me hard, but hadn’t offered,” Sampson said. “So when I came out here in front of them for the first time, I knew I had something to prove. I was going against some more highly-rated players who already had offers, and I wanted to prove that I deserved an offer too, so that’s what I did.”
The Baton Rouge (La.) Madison Prep product say that he’s not close to making a decision between the many schools on his list, with plans to sign during the late signing period, but he did say his interesting in heading West for college is legitimate.
“Coming out here to the West Coast has been a great experience for me in the past,” Sampson said. “I went to Pangos and I did really well, I was the second leading scorer. I could completely see myself going to college out here.
“At California, Coach Yanni (Hufnagel) is a great guy. We have a great relationship and talk all the time, so I’m really considering Cal.”
That’s not to say the hometown school won’t have its own draw.
“LSU’s been showing me mad love,” Sampson said. “They’ve been in my recruitment since the beginning, so they are definitely one of those at the top of my list.”
Sampson’s mom is helping him make the decision, but it doesn’t sound as if there will be pressure for him to remain home.
“She just wants me to be happy and go somewhere I’ll be comfortable,” Sampson said. “I’m looking for a place where I have that good relationship with the coaching staff and where there’s good player development, getting players to where they want to be.”
In that vein, Sampson said he’s taking into account whether schools can help him get to the NBA, and UCLA has stood out in that respect.
“I mean, they had three first-round picks,” Sampson said. “That’s a big part of why I’m considering them.”