The California basketball staff has been busy this week, visiting Pasadena (Calif.) Maranatha on Tuesday to watch recent official visitor Tyler Dorsey and his 2016 teammate in center Trevor Stanback, and on Sunday, Yanni Hufnagel visited Brandon Sampson.
“It was good,” Sampson said. “We talked about a lot of things. We talked about college and a timeline for my decision. We were talking about the program, and we were just chilling, talking.”
Sampson will be watching intently this Thursday, when the Bears have their second exhibition, and first on television, of the Cuonzo Martin era.
“Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll probably be watching that,” Sampson said.
What does he now want to see from Cal on the court, that he didn’t see during his official visit last month?
“You’re going to want to see what they’ve been telling you,” Sampson said. “They told me they should have a good perimeter this year, with the guards that they have, so I just want to see how the offense really runs. They said they have an open-court and spacing, so I want to see that. I want to just see how they play.”
After making official visits to both USC and St. John’s since he went on his official to Cal, Sampson’s decision has gotten quite difficult, and his timeline is fluid.
“Whenever it comes to me, that’s when I’ll make it,” said Sampson, who’s not beholden to signing early at this point. He may take one more official visit in late December or January, in fact.
As for those other visits? They each had their charms, to say the least.
“St. John’s, that was really cool, because that was my first time in New York,” said Sampson. “Going to see Madison Square Garden, downtown and all of that, that was pretty good. It was eye-opening. The coaching staff, they were really cool. I could see myself being involved, so that was a plus.”
USC also stood out, since there were several NBA general managers in attendance at the practice he viewed.
“The scenery, the weather out there, everywhere in California, is always amazing,” said the Louisiana native. “I really like the team. I think I can fit in with that team. I like the way they play. Coach [Andy] Enfield, he’s a really good man. I can see myself being coached by him. With seven or eight NBA GMs there, they’re a young team, so I know the freshmen have the possibility of getting a lot of looks from NBA. That really stuck out to me.”
While there is no one coach Sampson feels closer to than others (“I don’t want to put anybody before anybody,” he said), he does have quite a long history with two of the Cal coaches -- Cuonzo Martin and Hufangel.
“How close that new coaching staff was, with Cuonzo Martin, that stuck out,” Sampson said. “Everything is organized, even though it’s their first year there coaching. Cuonzo Martin was actually recruiting me at Tennessee, and Yanni, Yanni was recruiting me from Vanderbilt. It’s crazy that two coaches who were recruiting me met up and are now coaching at Cal, recruiting me.”
When Hufnagel came out to his practice, it was almost like seeing an old friend, Sampson said.
“It’s always like that,” Sampson said. “I’ve known him since my junior year, so it’s great talking to him.”