We recently had the chance to take in a workout of St. John’s sophomore Jakarr Sampson. Training with Demetrius Johnson and Karl Jacobson in Cleveland, Sampson went through a rigorous workout that showcased his athleticism and developing jumper. Projected as a second round pick, Jakarr is working diligently to solidify his Draft status.
Here is the full interview that we did with Jakarr:
CityLeagueHoops: What do you think that you’re going to show teams that they weren’t able to see at St. John’s?
Jakarr Sampson: I think I”m going to show them that my perimeter game is a lot better. I wasn’t really able to show that at St. John’s, so they’re going to see that I’m comfortable handling the ball and that my three point shot has gotten a lot better.
CLH: Speaking of your three point shot, you started off a little bit erratic, but then one you really focused on your form, you hit 74% of your last 25. Is it just going to take a lot of reps with you?
JK: That’s that thing: I just need a LOT of reps. I’m just getting in the habit of releasing the ball at the top of my jumpshot. A lot of reps and a lot of repetition will make things come naturally to me.
CLH: What are some of the other things that you’re looking to focus on?
JK: Definitely my ball handling and my strength. I feel like I”m getting a lot stronger and I’m putting on some good weight.
CLH: There’s a lot of pressure for players to stay on campus and finish up classes to help the school’s APR, although it in effect hinders your preparation for your ultimate career. How do you think doing your classes online and focusing 100% on basketball is helping you?
JS: First of all, I’m close to home with my family. When you play college basketball, you never really get to see your family at all. You get like two days off the whole year. I feel like I”m getting a head start. I’m not worried about school and even though I’m taking my online classes, I don’t have to deal with that stress. I’m away from everybody and now I can just focus on basketball.
CLH: Being a St. V and King James guy, has LeBron given you any advice since you’ve entered the Draft?
JS: Nope, no advice. I haven’t really been in contact with him lately since he’s a little busy.
CLH: In your two years at St. John’s, what was the most important thing that you took away?
JS: I think that I grew up mentally. I’m wiser and I”m more mature. I feel like going to college helped me learn the game more, too.
CLH: How much did your two years at Brewster playing against national competition help you develop as a player?
JS: It was big time. I feel like I made a lot of leaps and bounds by going to Brewster. I became a better player and a better athlete. Especially going up against guys like TJ Warren, Semaj Christian, Aaron Thomas, Mitch McGary…We had a lot of great players go there and I feel like it helped me a lot.
CLH: I’m an NBA GM. Why do I want Jakarr Sampson on my team?
JS: I’m a hard worker. I’m going to stay in the gym. I”m never going to start getting better. I”m always going to get better.
CLH: One of the aspects that people love about you is your hard work and your motor, which is a little more evident in 5-on-5 games. Do you think the 3-on-3 settings of private workouts are going to hurt a guy like yourself?
JS: No, not really because I feel like I’m going to be able to showcase my skills a little bit more in 3-on-3. I’ll be able to showcase my ball-handling, my decision making, and my shooting. I feel like I’ll just show my other skills.
CLH: One attribute of yours that is immediately evident is your ability to defend multiple positions. Is that something that you’ve always loved to do, or are you just learning to love it?
JS: It’s something that I always knew that I could do, but now I’m really loving doing it. I love shutting down a team’s best layer and I love guarding guards. I know it sounds kind of crazy because nobody likes running around like everybody, but I actually like guarding guards.
CLH: You played your first year in the true Big East, and last year in the new Big East…But it wasn’t the Big East. How big of an adjustment was it for you?
JS: It was an adjustment, but I feel like we were still good since we added Creighton and Xavier. We had Doug McDermott, who was an outstanding player. It was definitely different losing Syracuse, Louisville, and UCONN. UCONN won the championship, so it was definitely a change.
CLH: Truthfully, did it still have the same feel as the old Big East as a player?
JS: It didn’t. The Big East was The Big East. Louisville, Syracuse, UCONN…There’s a lot of tradition, a lot of history. It was not the same.
CLH: Speaking of the new Big East, what was it like guarding Doug McDermott?
JS: It was so hard not giving him space. You cannot give Doug McDermott space because that’s what he likes. You have to crowd him and make him put the ball on the floor. He’s so versatile, so as an athletic person, your best chance is to make him put the ball on the floor.