But the Madison Prep (Baton Rouge) standout has claimed the top spot, and he’s beginning to put more thought into his recruiting process now that a busy summer is in the rearview and his senior year is underway.
Some things are still up in the air, but Sampson knows above all else he wants to continue having fun in his recruitment, not see it as a burden.
“I’m really going to enjoy it,” Sampson told TSD. “I’ve cut down my list, and I know those final six schools are really going to start trying to impress me more with all they have to offer and showing me the campus. It’s really going to be interesting.”
Sampson said he can tell all six have turned up the dial of late. “I like all the interesting things they show you because when they’re just recruiting you, they don’t really talk to you as much about their program as they do when they really want you,” he explained. “So you can tell the difference between them just recruiting you and them really wanting you.”
When it comes to official visits, various sites have published visit schedules that both Sampson and Jeff Jones, his high school coach, refute. Sampson has a general idea of how he wants to approach visits but hasn’t selected a date for a single one at this point.
“I might take one or two visits (this fall), but I want to take visits during basketball season,” Sampson stressed. “I’d really like to catch some of these schools during basketball. I’m looking forward to seeing how the program works, the style of play and all that.”
As his visit timeline indicates, Sampson is “definitely going to sign late,” opting to wait for the regular period in April, not November’s early signing period.
The 6-foot-4, 180-pounder is keen on getting to know more about several out-of-state schools on his list, places he hasn’t had a chance to visit thus far. “I really don’t know much about any of the (out-of-state) schools, expect Texas A&M,” he recalled. “I went on an unofficial to Texas A&M (last September). So I’m kinda familiar there.”
On the two West Coast schools, Sampson remarked, “They’re all good schools. The West Coast is a great place to go for school. The network is amazing. The weather is amazing. And all of the schools out there sound amazing, so it’s a good place to be.”
LSU, the hometown school, also holds a great deal of appeal for Sampson.
“I talk with Coach Johnny [Jones] a lot. He calls me almost every week,” said Sampson. “I feel like I would fit pretty good in their system. The system isn’t really based off plays. Sometimes it’s kinda just up-and-down. I would fit pretty good in that system if I had to say.”
Sampson went on to comment that even though LSU is targeting several out-of-state blue-chippers, the Tigers’ staff has still made him feel like a priority. It’s a feeling he’s getting used to.
“Somewhat, because Ben [Simmons] is that player,” he leveled. “I mean, he’s number one in the nation. That’s pretty big, so you’re going to get some recognition. But I still feel like a priority. They’re still calling me, talking with me a lot. I feel like they know I’m a good player, but I’m still weighing out my options. Every coach calls me and treats me like I’m a priority. Most of them tell me I’m at the top of their list.”
At the end of the day Sampson acknowledges his mother, Maude Sampson-Saunders, will help him make his final decision. The two regularly attend LSU football and basketball games together, but while Sampson playing for the Tigers would suit her, she ultimately wants the best situation for her son, no matter where that takes him.
On LSU, she stated, “The biggest benefit I can see is it would be easier for me to get to him, to see all of his games and stuff like that. But as I’ve said, whatever’s best for him and wherever he chooses to go, mama’s right there. I’ll make a way to get him somehow wherever he goes.”
That last sentiment is the prevailing one for Sampson-Saunders, who settled on the following answer when asked what she wants for her son.
“Whatever makes him happy,” Sampson-Saunders responded. “It would be nice to keep him home, but whatever is best for him to get him to where he needs to be and where he wants to be, I support that. Just as long as he’s happy and it’s something good, I’m behind him all the way.”