Will St. John's Freshman JaKarr Sampson Return to Queens for Sophomore Year?

By Jared Mintz
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Upon hearing of St. John’s transfer forward Orlando Sanchez’s elibility being reinstated, I had a conversation with fellow St. John’s – and every other team in the nation cause he’s just an awesome college hoops writer – beat writer Joseph Nardone about how the Johnnies could look next season.

The 6-foot-9 Sanchez would likely join rookie big man Chris Obekpa to give St. John’s one of the best front courts in the nation, well that all depends on who the third member of the party is.

Yes, we’re talking about you, Big East Rookie of the Year to be (I’ll bet my left pinky on it) JaKarr Sampson.

The 6-foot-8 Ohio native has been far and away the best first year player in the conference, leading all of his peers in scoring (14.7) and rebounding (6.7), and recording six Big East Rookie of the Week awards, putting him in the same conversation with Big East legends Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, and Troy Murphy for most times winning the award.

Could Sampson follow last season’s Big East Rookie of the Year, and now St. John’s alum, Moe Harkless and be a one-and-done?

Joe – my buddy who’s not going to mind that I used our casual, off the record conversation for an article topic – thinks in the weak 2013 draft class, Sampson could likely be a first round pick, possibly even landing in the back of the lottery.

The ever essential tweener, Sampson has more of a skill set to play the four but would most definitely have to bulk up from his borderline 200-pound body to hang in the paint on the next level. Despite being more effective closer to the basket, we’ve seen Sampson get it done in the mid-range as well this season, and with his length and speed he could be a more defensive-minded three, who makes it a point to improve his outside game.

Neither DraftExpress.com or NBADraft.net have Sampson even getting drafted this season, which could be more that they’re not expecting him to come out than they dont think he’s worth a draft pick, but if they found him more worthy I’m sure he would’ve made one of their mock drafts (for what it’s worth, Draft Express has Sampson as a top pick in the second round of the 2014 draft).

As good as I think Sampson has played this season, and as ready as I think he was to play college basketball in his first season of eligibility, I don’t think either his game or his body are ready to make that next leap to the next step even in a weak draft. It’s easy for me to say as I don’t have any remote possibility of even aspiring to be drafted into the NBA one day, but it seems St. John’s is building something special with coach Steve Lavin. And with D’Angelo Harrison most likely not going anywhere, maybe next season could really improve not just Sampson’s draft stock, but make him a better player.

My gut told me that Harkless would bolt after last season, and it’s telling me to expect Sampson to play at least one more season with the Johnnies. It also tells me that Joe’s wrong.

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

Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Joe on Twitter @JosephNardone

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