Louisville emerging as Sampson's leader?

Akron small forward Jakarr Sampson has enjoyed a breakthrough nationally on the AAU circuit this spring, rising to No. 60 overall in Scout.com's 2011 recruiting rankings. Louisville recently jumped in the mix with the 6-foot-7 forward and Sampson plans to visit the Cardinals soon. Are the Cardinals emerging as Sampson's leader?

Akron, Ohio small forward Jakarr Sampson has enjoyed a breakthrough nationally on the AAU circuit this spring, rising to No. 60 overall in Scout.com's 2011 recruiting rankings.

A four-star prospect, the 6-7, 190-pound Sampson is rated the No. 12 small forward nationally in his class and excels because of his length and athleticism – and a rapidly improving skill set.

"He can play two or three different positions," Sampson's AAU coach Don Anderson said. "He can play the point in our offense, he plays the wing and sometimes plays in the post. His jump shot is coming along but he can make plays with his athleticism. He attacks the basket that's what he does. He plays above the rim. He's becoming a nationally-known player."

Sampson was one of the stars at the King James Classic in late April, and followed that up with a strong performance over the weekend at the EBYL in Los Angeles, Nike's top Memorial Day event.

Louisville has emerged as a player in Jakarr Sampson's recruitment.
"He still needs to tweak his jumper and finish stronger," Anderson said. "And he needs to work on going to his left hand because he predominantly goes right. But he's blowing past everybody. I haven't seen one person this spring that stays in front of him."

Before his stock rose this spring, Sampson had offers from Xavier, Cincinnati, Baylor, Dayton, and Tennessee. In the last few weeks, Louisville also jumped in the mix and is emerging as a strong contender for Sampson's services.

"It's been going great with Louisville and the recruitment has been going really good," Anderson said. "They got involved about three weeks ago. Coach Masiello gave me a call and talked to Jakaar. They wanted to watch him a little bit because he's a late bloomer. His mom reached out and called Coach Pitino [Tuesday] but he was in a meeting. They're supposed to talk soon."

What does Louisville like about Sampson?

"Louisville sees him playing the wing and they like the way he handles the ball, his length and athleticism," said Anderson. "Louisville runs an open court style and that fits him real well. He likes to get out and run and Masiello was saying that he liked the way [Jakarr] played and believes he can help them pursue a national championship."

Sampson's friendship with Zach Price, a 2011 Louisville commitment, could help the Cardinals in their pursuit of the talented wing prospect.

"[Jakaar] and Zach are good friend and that's what they talk about [going to Louisville together] on these trips," Anderson said. "They hang out after the games and have fun. They have a good repoire. Zach always talks about the red, the red, the Cardinal red..."

For now, those close to Sampson aren't talking favorites. But it's clear Louisville is a program to watch closely with Sampson this summer.

"Xavier and a couple of other schools have been there. Xavier has recruited him strong and they've seen him play. Right now everybody is even," Anderson said. "But he likes Louisville. I heard him and Zach talking Louisville over the weekend."

The next step in Louisville's courtship of Sampson appears to be an upcoming visit. The Cardinals wanted Sampson to visit June 20 but he'll be playing in the NBA Player's Camp. While no visit date has been established, Sampson, according to Anderson, is planning to visit the Cardinals this summer.

"Jakaar is planning on visiting Louisville," Anderson said. "We're going to get down there and get a visit in and have a face to face with Coach Pitino. His mom is going to look at everything and see how it fits. He definitely wants to go and visit Louisville and he'll have Zach with him when he comes down."

Anderson said he expects Sampson to make his decision this summer. "He just wants to go somewhere he can get a great education, compete for the national championship and get better," Anderson said.

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