Villanova guard Ryan Arcidiacono has been named Rookie of the Week three times this season, but asides from him and Sampson, no other freshman has won the award more than once. Sampson’s great start has him looking to be the second-straight St. John’s player to win Big East Rookie of the Year, as Maurice Harkless won the award before jumping ship to the NBA last Spring.
With St. John’s now tied for third in the Big East, Sampson averaged 20 points and 6 rebounds as the Red Storm grabbed wins over both Seton Hall and Rutgers. After it seemed as if Sampson had hit a little bit of a wall at the beginning of January, he’s come back around to have crucial performances in important wins over tough (and ranked) Big East competition like Notre Dame and Cincinnati.
Sampson has almost been an ex-factor for the Johnnies, being their only legitimate interior option on the offensive end. I’m sure head coach Steve Lavin would like to see his prized freshman shoot higher than 45-percent from the field, but as long as his shot selection is smart, Sampson is one of the more versatile offensive forwards in the Big East.
Sampson not only leads the Red Storm in rebounding, but he leads all Big East freshman in scoring (14.3 points per game) and rebounding (6.5 rebounds per game), and seems to be well on his way towards having some end of the year hardware to take home.
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