After going 3-for-14 from the field in his first two games, and getting off to an unexpectedly slow start, St. John’s freshman star JaKarr Sampson has been named Big East Rookie of the Week after he lead the Red Storm to a 2-0 week while contributing 16 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals.
Coming off of two-straight losses, the freshman from Akron, Ohio gave St. John’s the boost they needed by beginning his big week with a career-high 20 point, 7 rebound performance in a win over Holy Cross. Sampson looked like a completely different player in that game, and admitted so afterwards, “I’ve been more relaxed and just taking my time out there.” Sampson then admitted he needed to allow the game to come to him, and that he was pressing too much, he added one more improvement: “Also, I’m just getting used to playing with my teammates.”
Coach Steve Lavin agreed with his new star’s assessment: “As we’ve gone along in the past couple weeks, he’s settled down and is letting the game come to him. He’s not forcing in single coverage, he’s going to work when he has pressure on him. His maturity is developing right before his eyes.” Lavin also thinks Sampson needed to direct his energy in in a different way, “poise is the thing that comes to mind the most when thinking about JaKarr. In the first game…he was in a hurry and rushing his play, but it came from a positive place because he had so much energy, enthusiasm and adrenaline.”
Sampson seems to have figured out how to redirect that energy, enthusiasm, and adrenaline, and combine it with the poise Lavin alluded to, as he’s scored in double figures in each of St. John’s last four games and is the teams lead rebounder.
Lavin had high expectations for Sampson heading into the season, and after a disappointing first couple of games, the freshman really seems to be coming into his own.
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