|JaKarr Sampson. Photo by @LolitaLens of BrooklynFans.com|
By Jason Schott of BrooklynFans.com -Daly Dose of Hoops Contributor @JESchott19
JaKarr Sampson, who left St. John's ahead of his senior year, has made the Philadelphia 76ers' Opening Night roster.
Sampson's decision to leave produced mixed reactions because it was not likely he would be drafted. He worked out for many teams before the NBA Draft in June, but was not chosen. The Sixers signed him soon after and brought him in to their Summer League, and then training camp. In five preseason games, Sampson averaged 18.4 minutes, 4.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.6 turnovers per game.
I caught up with Sampson when Philadelphia came in to Brooklyn to play the Nets on Monday, October 20.
On how it felt to be in training camp with the Sixers, Sampson said, "It feels good, I feel like I'm getting better every day, every game, every practice, so it feels good to be here."
The Sixers are coached by Brett Brown, and Sampson said of him and the rest of the staff, "I love the coaching staff, they're fun, and I'm learning a lot from them. They're patient because we're a young team, and it's just a good situation all around."
Brown said of Sampson after the preseason game with the Nets, "I get excited because he's got a heck of a story to tell. His route to an NBA court is unique and he comes with fantastic personality and he's got a great team spirit and, most importantly, he plays defense. We're trying to find keepers to complement our lottery picks, and we're trying to polish him up and see where he ends up, but he's great value, he's good to have around."
On what his main skill is, Sampson said, "It's gotta be defense, especially at the wing spot when you're 6'8" able to guard 2's or 3's (referring to the position on the floor), I gotta say defense, that's my ticket. That's all Coach (Brown) talks about is defense, that's what he's building his program up from is defense."
On the difference between an NBA defense and college, Sampson said, "You don't see too much zone in this league. We did a lot of zone, kind of switch it up, we pretty much ran everything at St. John's."
On if he keeps up with any of his former St. John's teammates, Sampson said, "I keep in touch with Phil (Greene), Chris Obekpa, D'Angelo (Harrison), pretty much all the guys." On how it looked last March when he declared for the NBA Draft and it looked like Obekpa, who can block shots as much as Dikembe Mutombo, was leaving as well, he said, "It fell apart for a little bit, but they stuck to it and they should have a good season this year."
I told him how there is one constant from last year to this year at St. John's, and that is Rysheed Jordan is still is being silenced. Sampson said of that, "Really, is he not?! They're not letting him talk? I didn't know that, that's crazy. I really have no idea (why), I don't know the deal with it."