JaKarr Sampson Quotes

JaKarr Sampson is looking to be the first St. John's player to be drafted since 2012.

March 24, 2014

Sophomore Forward JaKarr Sampson

On deciding to turn professional:

“It has been my lifelong dream to play in the NBA, and I am excited and ready to begin that journey. I am grateful to my teammates and coaches at St. John’s. I would like to thank Coach Lavin, our staff and my teammates for being there for me throughout my whole career at SJU. We have been through a lot together and I know everyone is excited for me.”

On where in the NBA Draft he expects to be chosen:

“I have been advised that I may be selected between the late first and mid-second round, but the important thing is I am in the mix and I know I can earn my way up the draft board.”

On why he’s not returning to St. John’s for one more year in an attempt to become a guaranteed first round pick or lottery selection:

“Playing in the NBA has always been a lifelong dream of mine. I know I have a long road ahead and hard work to do still, but I feel like the chance to pursue my dream is available right now.”

On how long he’s known this is the route he would take:

“After conversations with my family and Coach Lavin, I arrived at the decision. At the end of my freshman year I went through the NBA’s underclassman process and spoke with league officials like Stu Jackson. After I made the decision to return to school I didn’t want to think about it during this past season. I really tried to stay in the present throughout the year.

On the biggest factor in his decision:

“This wasn't a quick decision, but it’s been something I’ve been considering for more than a year. I took my time and spoke with key people. After evaluating all of my options, I decided to continue to reach for my NBA dream. My ultimate dream is to not just reach the NBA, but to stay there. I want to stay for a long time and make a career out of it. Right now it’s close. It’s reachable.”

On his St. John's experience:

“I have enjoyed my time at St. John's, and I want to thank the coaching staff and all of my teammates for the great experience I had in my time in Queens. I would also like to thank the fans at St. John’s and everyone who has supported me throughout my career so far.”

On how his teammates reacted to the news:

“There were a lot of mixed emotions when I told them. They were excited, but it's bittersweet. There's a lot of talent on this team, and they'll do big things next year. I think we’ll all keep working hard, and many of us may get the opportunity to play in the league together.“

On the positional role he hopes to play on a NBA team:

“I’ll be in the gym all offseason and can hopefully work on polishing both my perimeter and post-up skills as an athletic wing. No matter what position or role, I will be happy to contribute any way I can.” 

On observations about similar-type players to him in the D-League:

“Coach Lavin and my support group have helped me conduct research and the information gathered indicates that with hard work, I have a chance to improve my stock and play in the NBA next year. I will work hard and prove myself in every workout. I know I can impress upon GMs and coaches that I am ready be a contributor to a NBA team.”

On the challenges of the 2013-14 St. John’s basketball season:

“We were all disappointed that we didn’t reach our goal of playing in the NCAA Tournament. I think my teammates and St. John’s will have a great season next year. I really enjoyed my St. John’s experience with my teammates and our coaching staff. I just feel it’s time for me to take the next step.”

On what he’ll be working on most between now and the draft to get ready for the NBA:

“I’ll be working out with pro trainers and strength coaches, likely in Akron, Miami and Las Vegas. I definitely want to get stronger and work on my jumper to improve my game on the perimeter. I’m really looking to locking in on improving.”

On his family's support of his decision:

“They were very supportive of whatever decision I made. My mother and I want me to finish school. I will work with my professors and [St. John’s Student Development coordinator] Eric Rienecker to complete the semester in good standing and will look to come back during my offseasons and finish my degree in liberal studies.

On the difficulty of leaving St. John's and his teammates:

“It’s very difficult. We’ve all developed a family bond over the year. My teammates are like my brothers. It’s hard, but I have to be ready to move on. They’re happy for me and that’s what matters.”

On whether he is “testing the waters”:

“I am fully committed to the decision to turn professional. I plan to hire an agent soon.”

On the NBA player(s) he's often compared to:

“Because of my length, athletic ability and skill set, I've heard a lot of comparisons to Paul George. That’s the main one.” 

On ultimately measuring his success as a professional:

“I will be able to look back at this and let you know in a few years. I can say right now that I am happy and confident with this decision, and 100 percent committed to making myself the best professional basketball player I can be.”

On if finances had a role in the decision:

“It really didn’t have a role. I’m blessed to have a mother and father that don’t put pressure on me like that even though it’s not all good at home and it’s not all sweet and flowers. I’m blessed to have a mother and father that say when you’re ready, you go and don’t worry about us.”


Head Coach Steve Lavin

Opening Statement:

“From the first time that we began recruiting JaKarr it was clear that his dream and goal was to play at the highest level. This year, it was clear that he was ready and wanted to begin that pursuit of the dream and take the next step. That begins with what is happening today. While we would love to coach him for another year or two, we have to be happy for JaKarr because it is his life and these are his dreams and his aspirations and goals that he has had for a long time.”

On JaKarr making an impression:

“When JaKarr goes to workouts and meets people at these various organizations he’s going to make a strong impression. If you’ve spent time with him he has an infectious and contagious enthusiasm and passion for basketball and he connects with people very easily. There is an authenticity about him that makes him a special player.”

On the state of the program with the number of NBA prospects:

“At the end of the day when you recruit a kid there are two things you want to happen. You want them to work towards their degree and you want them to have the opportunity to play at the highest level. St. John’s is an attractive destination for the elite basketball players in the world and we’re seeing that both with international players that have chosen St. John’s and kids that have chosen it coast-to-coast.”




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