When it comes to the recruitment of four-star guard Brandon Sampson, the top rated player in Louisiana, there’s seldom been a dull moment, or a definitive sense of where he’ll ultimately land.
At times LSU was on top for the Baton Rouge native, who plays his ball for one of the state’s top programs in Madison Prep. But, after a recent commitment from Antonio Blakeney, the Tigers are on the outside looking in for Sampson’s services.
At other times Sampson has fancied all of his other four finalists, a group that includes West Coast programs California, UCLA and USC, as well as St. John’s and the allure of playing in Madison Square Garden.
Now, as Sampson told Scout.com, he’s more or less narrowed his focus to three – California, USC and St. John’s – with LSU and UCLA fading into more of afterthoughts.
“I’m looking for the best situation for what I want to do in college, so really just basing it off playing time and being able to play through mistakes,” explained Sampson. “That’s really how I’ve been rating these schools.”
Here’s a look into Sampson’s thought process on each of the individual programs.
Cal: They get up and down. They have a pretty good team, pretty good guard play from Tyrone Wallace, who’s a point guard. I haven’t really been looking at the one spot, but I’ve been looking at the two spot to see where I fit in most in that system. It’s a pretty good situation there. I have a chance to go in there and start.
USC: Another team in the Pac-12, that’s a big conference. They have a good point guard, too, (in Jordan McLaughlin) just coming in as a freshman. I have a good chance of going in there and starting as a freshman. Big minutes over there.
SJU: I’ve talked to them since I was in ninth grade. They’ve been talking to me since they were recruiting Jarell [Martin]. Lav [Head coach Steve Lavin], I talk to him almost every day. He tells me if I was to come there I’d have big minutes as a freshman, I’d start and I’d really be a big contributor to that team.
UCLA: I haven’t really talked that much with UCLA position-wise or about how many minutes I could play, but he said that I could really be a contributor to that team. They just got back in the mix, so I really haven’t been having conversations with them a lot.
Sampson indicated he doesn’t have a favorite yet, but he did dispel the myth that he’s not willing to live in New York City. To Sampson, who always has an eye on his future and NBA aspirations, the day is likely to come anyway that he’ll live in a cold-weather city.
“Basically you’re going to have to get used to that at one time or another,” he leveled. “Say you get drafted to this team or that team where it’s cold, you’re not going to turn down the money so you’re going to have to get used to it eventually.”
He also opened up on his connection with Lavin, one of the coaches – along with Cal assistant Yanni Hufnagel – Sampson has become closest with during the recruiting process.
“He’s a real good guy, great coach. I got to see him coach when I went up there on my visit, and I know he’d really push me,” continued Sampson. “Not only Lav, but his staff, too, with Coach [Tony] Chiles and Coach Rico [Hines]. Those guys, I know they’d really push me, and I can really see myself being coached under him.
“That’s one of the things I like about Lav. I wouldn’t want to go somewhere where I couldn’t see myself being coached by someone, or someone that’s just going to let me do something and not correct it. I can see him pushing me and correcting me when I’m wrong.”
All things considered, despite the ongoing waiting game, Sampson hasn’t grown tired of dealing with recruiting. In fact, as he sees it, it’s been beneficial to see how everything unfolds around him.
“It hasn’t gotten to the point where it’s not fun anymore. You should enjoy it. I mean, you’re in full control of it,” Sampson said. “All the coaches say it’s starting to get hectic because that second signing period, everything’s on you. ‘Are you going to come here or not?’ Everyone wants to try and buckle down on you and see what you’re really going to do.”
So when will Sampson decide and announce his move?
“I don’t think I’ll wait that long,” he concluded. “I’ll sign in April, but I’ll probably commit before the end of my season.”
Brandon Sampson sets focus on three schools
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