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NCAA Basketball

St. John’s Forward JaKarr Sampson Named Big East Rookie of the Week

Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

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.

For hoops, hip-hop and other random sports and pop culture commentary, follow Jared Mintz on Twitter @JaredMintzTruth

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NCAA Tournament Profile: St. John's Red Storm

Record: 21-11

RPI: 37

BPI: 51

Conference: Big East Conference

How They Qualified: At-Large Berth

Region: No. 9 seed in South


The St. John’s Red Storm have been a tough puzzle to solve ever since Steve Lavin took over as head coach. Lavin has recruited like a boss, but his teams simply have not met expectations. Well, his team didn’t blow us all away this year, but it will be partaking in the 2015 NCAA tournament. It is all about those baby steps.

This is the Red Storm’s first appearance since 2011. Needless to say, the team was well overdue.


What You Need to Know:

Leading Scorer: D’Angelo Harrison (17.5 PPG)

Leading Rebounder: Sir’Dominic Pointer (7.6 RPG)

Leading Passer: Rysheed Jordan (3.1 APG)

Bad Losses: DePaul, Creighton, Seton Hall

Good Wins: Providence (twice), Xavier (twice), Syracuse, Georgetown


If everything comes together, St. John’s could be one of the biggest surprises of the tournament. That may be asking for a lot, though. This team did lose 11 times on the season.

If you are looking for a player who can score at will, look no further than D’Angelo Harrison. Harrison is a senior, so you better believe he will be playing every game like it is his last because … well, every game could realistically be his last. Fun fact: Harrison has averaged over 16 points per game all four years at St. John’s — he is the real deal, folks.

St. John’s wasn’t the most consistent team in the country, so it will be interesting to see which Red Storm team shows up — the one that lost three in a row at one point, or the one that started the season off with an 11-1 record.

The St. John’s Red Storm are dancing!

Trevor Lowry is a Content Associate at If you’re a tweeter feel free to follow him @TheTrevorLowry, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

Will this finally be the year that Steve Lavin coaches his St. John's Red Storm on a deep run? Whether the case, they enter the dance with some talent.

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