“It’s an ‘A’,” Sampson said when asked to grade his visit to Berkeley. “An ‘A,’ an ‘A,’ an ‘A.’
“It’s a great school. I met everybody. I met the vice president of the school, I met a lot of top people over at the University, so they told me a lot about it. It was the academics, the fields you can major in, all kinds of things – I learned that it was a really great school.”
The weekend started off with a noontime rally on venerable Sproul Plaza on Friday, with the Cal Band playing classic protest rock from the Vietnam War era to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, as well as the catalogue of fight songs and school traditionals.
That was followed immediately by a student slam dunk contest, officiated by the Golden Bears hoopsters themselves.
“That was pretty cool,” Sampson said. “That was pretty cool to be on campus and see stuff like that. It was pretty exciting to see some exciting things going on, on campus.”
Then, on Saturday, Sampson got to see the double-overtime win for the Bears on the gridiron.
“That was really good,” Sampson said of the atmosphere. “It was a good game, too, knowing that they went double-overtime and got the victory. The football fans, they stayed in it, 100 percent, so that was a great atmosphere.”
‘100 percent,’ was a theme for Sampson’s visit, from the football fans to the coaching staff.
“I was noticing how beautiful the campus was, how nice everybody was, it was really nice,” Sampson said. “It was a great environment. Everything was backed up, 100 percent – the coaching staff, the tutoring, everything was well-balanced. It wasn’t all-or-nothing. Your education is always going to be important, and they put that first, instead of how every other college is like, mainly based on just playing basketball. They focus on your academics, first. The coaching staff, the new coaching staff, they were really together with everything. They check on the players twice a week in academics and make sure they’re good. Everything was just really together. Nobody was just doing their own thing. The coaching staff was really together with everything.”
After the football game, Sampson got a chance to hang out with some of the current players, and “just chilled with the team.”
He also got to go into San Francisco.
“I actually have family out there, so my family came by, and they came and chilled with me and took me around San Francisco a little bit,” Sampson said of his West Coast cousins.
His family also took Sampson to the beach, which was markedly different from the beaches near his home of Baton Rouge, La.
Sampson also brought along his parents for a little impromptu family reunion, along with the visit.
“They really liked it,” Sampson said. “They just like the West Coast style, I guess – the beaches, the weather, they really liked the school. They really liked the staff. I think they really enjoyed it.”
Sampson’s only previous official visit had been to LSU.
“I guess you could say the Cal visit was a little bit better, because I’ve been in Louisiana for some time, and California was better,” Sampson said. “That was my second time out there, and I love the weather. It was good to go out there, to somewhere I haven’t been in a minute.”
Though he hasn’t scheduled them, Sampson wants to take official visits to St. John’s and USC.