Ed Cooley and staff practically lived at JaKarr Sampson’s games this year, developing a great relationship with the 6-8 high flying forward. However, it wasn’t enough to lure Sampson away from Steve Lavin and St. John’s. It was announced he re-committed to them late last night.
Sampson said recently he was into Kansas, Baylor and Florida, and reiterated that Providence coach Ed Cooley outworked a lot of people. Regardless, Lavin has his man. Lavin worked hard to regain the pledge. St. John’s lost Sampson when he failed to qualify last fall.
The Friars were thought to be in great shape with Sampson, having a strong possibility of filling a huge hole in the front court for next year. Sampson not only surprised everyone with his timing (he said he would wait until April), but also the fact he chose St. John’s. While it shouldn’t really be much of a surprise given he committed there at one time in 2010 and is friends with a lot of the freshman, it definitely caught most people off guard.
For Providence, this one hurts. Bad. Sampson could have been a huge piece of the puzzle to complement all of the talented freshmen guards coming in. However, it’s not the end of the world and Ed Cooley can’t be expected to fill every open slot with Top-30 caliber players (we still have a Top-10 incoming class, remember?). The staff is aiming high, but as we’ve seen over the years competition is something fierce with these types of kids. It’s going to suck facing Sampson in conference play the next several years, but nothing we can do but move on.
While we still don’t know who is staying/leaving in the front court, Cooley will surely focus on several other bigs for 2012, including Chris Obekpa, Orlando Sanchez, and Carlos Morris. Scout Friars also reported that 7-footer Matt Willms had the Friars in his final 2.