While this past July was Sam's coming out party so to speak, it was not his first time to play in summer tournaments.
"I have been playing AAU ball since my eight-grade," said Sam. "This is my second year to have gone to the Adidas camps. At (this summer's) Adidas camp, I did real well. I had a good average and played real well."
In fact, he did so well a number of college coaches asked about him after seeing him play for the first time in the Adidas and AAU games, but when they found out he was a heavy Mississippi State lean, they backed off of him.
The reason Sam was a heavy lean to State went back to the previous month. Mississippi State, unlike all the other coaches who saw him for the first time at the tournaments, first noticed his excellent talent a month earlier at their June individual basketball camp. "Their camp was the first (college basketball) camp that I had ever been to," explained Sam. He went on to say, "after they offered me a full scholarship at the individual camp this summer," was when he became serious about them.
There were several things that the coaches at Mississippi State liked about him. According to Sam, "they liked my toughness, my athleticism and my way of playing."
Although the camp was when Sam became serious about Mississippi State, they were not a newcomer to his thoughts. "I always liked Mississippi State when I was small," Sam said. "I really liked the atmosphere and the players and coaches."
While he likes Mississippi State, that is not the only reason he chose to attend an in-state school. "I also love Mississippi and wanted to stay in-state," Sam emphasized. "I want to represent my state."
His coach, Keith Williams, who has coached Sam the past three years, thinks highly of Sam and his playing ability and understands why Mississippi State's coaches offered Sam a scholarship.
"He is unselfish and is a very hard worker," said Coach Williams. "I always tell him if you have a kid who can out-work him, I want to meet that kid. He has a love for the game and is very athletic. He can play pretty much any position on the court. There have been a lot of times that we have played him at (point guard) because of the things that he can do. He is an exceptional ball-handler and has exceptional floor vision. He is a threat with the ball and without the ball. With the ball, he can do so much. He is the total package. He sacrificed his game for the team's sake last year. He was playing with a great shooter last year. When he is out there, he feels he is the best player on the court. Plus, he is an outstanding kid."
While most players are either good outside shooters or shooters who can create their shots, Sam believes he, "can do them both."
His coach confirmed that when he said that Sam, "is one of the best finishers in high school. He can get to the basket, can shoot the midrange as well as shoot the three."
Coach Williams also mentioned that it is not just his athletic ability that makes him a great player, "but the way his confidence level has taken off."
While Coach Williams confirmed that Sam will be his go-to guy this year, Hinds AHS has a couple of other players that you may want to watch this season. They are 10th graders Carl Carson, a 5-foot-7, 145-pound point guard, and Benard Taylor, a 6-foot-1 and 180-pound forward.
If you would like to see Sam and his teammates play this season, Hinds AHS' first game is October 29th against Jim Hill High School.
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://www.genespage.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.