If there was any doubt as to who the top prospect in Ohio’s Class of
2011 was, Jakarr Sampson of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary has put it to
rest. The SVSM senior is starting to show why many believe he has a chance to be a future professional.
If there was any doubt as to who the top prospect in Ohio’s Class of 2011 was, Jakarr Sampson of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary has put it to rest.
Sampson, 6-7, has long been thought of as a player with tremendous upside and potential, but now the light has come on and the SVSM senior is starting to show why many believe this kid has a chance to be a future professional.
Sampson, who started off his high school career at Twinsburg, transferred to Solon during the fall of the 2007-2008 campaign. He participated with the Comets his freshman year before transferring to SVSM during the summer heading into his sophomore year.
The high-major prospect, Sampson, was a borderline Top 100 player before the spring of 2010. After wowing scouts at the King James Shooting Stars Tournament, the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, the Nike Skills Academy, and college coaches at the King City Classic and the NY2LA Summer Jam, Sampson has certainly captured the attention of most big-time programs.
The question arises; what has changed? The potential has always been there, but the 195-pound bundle of ability is starting to put his potential into practice.
“I believe his approach to the game has changed and his confidence has risen,” said Sampson’s mentor and AAU coach Don Anderson. “AAU allows him to play the 3-spot, which is what he will be playing in college. He can now put the ball on the floor with both hands, and he is long and athletic around the rim.”
To echo what Anderson mentioned, it appears Sampson is more focused on the matter at hand and has become more aggressive and assertive.
Though, he has climbed the rankings to No. 22 by Scout and No. 37 according to Scout, Sampson still has work to do according to Anderson.
“I think he could be more consistent with his jumper, but he is working on it,” Anderson noted. “Everything else is there. He can create space anytime he wants it. When he gets stronger it will be over. I’m not saying he is weak at all, but when he gets that strength to knock down jumpers consistently it will be a wrap.”
Another question which always surfaces when talking about Sampson is how are his grades coming along?
“He has definitely picked up his grades,” Anderson said. “He is starting to get things taken care of and getting more help. He realizes what he needs to get done. At first, he was kind of blasé about the whole thing, but he has figured out that each one shakes the other’s hand. Academics and basketball must go hand-to-hand.”
Anderson has been with Sampson throughout the whole recruiting process along with Sampson’s mother. Currently they are working on narrowing down his list and getting ready to line up official visits.
Several schools have been aggressively pursuing Sampson. Xavier, St. John’s, Louisville, Baylor, Akron, Dayton, and Cincinnati have all offered along with Tennessee.
Michigan State has recently come back into the picture along with a newcomer, Kansas.
“It looks like Kansas is getting ready to offer,” Anderson stated. “He is heavy on their radar.”
The thing that is intriguing about Kansas is how they develop wing players like Jakarr. Eventually, he will sit down with his mom and schedule some official visits and figure everything out.”
In state schools like Xavier, Dayton, and Cincinnati have been around from the start along with Akron.
“Akron was the first school to reach out followed by Dayton and Xavier,” Anderson said. “He likes all of those schools, but what it will finally come down to is which school will give him the best opportunity to reach his goals. Jakarr’s goal is to play professional basketball and get a good education.”
What about Ohio State? Sampson is the best prospect in Ohio by almost all accounts, so where do the Buckeyes come into the mix?
“As far as I know Ohio State has never come to any of Jakarr’s games,” Anderson recalled. “They are afraid of his grades. They really haven’t called either. I think they feel comfortable with other options.”
At any rate, Ohio State has offered, but has backed off its recruitment of the SVSM standout.
Regardless of where Sampson ends up, Anderson will remember him for his other attributes.
“His smile is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Jakarr,” Anderson laughed. “As soon as you meet him, he is the type of kid you really like. He is so much fun to talk to and nothing negative ever comes out of his mouth whether it’s players, colleges, or coaches. He just wants to be the best.”
Sampson, who earned third Team D-II All-Ohio honors a year after averaging 14 points per game as junior, has been invited to the Nike Global Games (Portland, OR) in August. Sampson is currently in Orlando (FL) participating in the U17 Super Showcase followed by the AAU Nationals.