Friday, April 4, 2014

The Difference Between Jerami Grant and Jakarr Sampson

Jerami Grant and Jakarr Sampson were both 4-star recruits coming out of high school. They were both big-time recruits, but neither was the kind of can't miss guy that Kentucky or UNC go after. Grant picked Syracuse over Maryland, NC State and Notre Dame. Sampson picked St. John's over Baylor, Louisville and Tennessee.

Grant, an athletic 6'8 210 combo forward, averaged 12 points and 7 rebounds a game on 50% shooting as a sophomore. Sampson, an athletic 6'9 215 wing, averaged 13 points and 6 rebounds a game on 49% shooting as a sophomore.

When you start to break down their games, they are remarkably similar prospects. Both are long, athletic forwards who can put the ball on the floor and defend multiple positions. Both struggle to hit perimeter jumpers - neither attempted a 3-pointer this season, while Grant shot 67% from the free-throw line and Sampson checked in at 56%.

Sampson is a year older than Grant, but that can't explain how differently they are viewed by NBA draft folks. If Grant declares for the draft, he is seen as a fringe lottery pick and lock to be taken in the first-round. Sampson, who declared for the draft on Thursday, will have to work his way into the second round during the workout season.

The biggest difference between Sampson and Grant? Grant gets better promotion.

While Sampson has played in obscurity the last two years at St. John's, a rebuilding program in the Big East that was still a year away from contending for the NCAA Tournament, Grant has been an integral part of a Syracuse team that is perennially contending for a national title.

Playing at Syracuse next to Michael Carter-Williams and Tyler Ennis, Grant has had the benefit of an NBA PG setting him up for easy shots the last two years. Sampson, meanwhile, has had to play with combo guards like D'Angelo Harrison at St. John's, who are more worried about getting their own buckets.

If either player develops a perimeter jumper, they will have a long career at the next level. Their length and athleticism will make them excellent perimeter defenders, while their ability to put the ball on the floor, when combined with a 20-foot jumper, will allow them to draw fouls and get to the rim on offense.

However, just like James McAdoo, if they don't develop a jumper, opposing teams will just sag off them. Neither is a great distributor, so they can't have a lot of offense run through them either, which means they will have a hard time finding minutes at the next level without one.

Everyone wants to give Jim Boeheim shit about his players not succeeding at the next level, but their lack of success should really be a calling card for him in recruiting. All things being equal, a guy who plays for Boeheim will be drafted a lot higher than one who doesn't because Boeheim's player will be on an elite team that is on ESPN every week.

When it comes to the NBA draft, the pool of available players is a lot bigger than the 20-25 who get talked about by ESPN all season. Once you get outside the Top 10 prospects in the country, the difference between the rest isn't as clear cut as it may seem. Think about that whenever you see every mock draft which has the same 30-35 players being taken in the first round.

Jerami Grant is in that pool and Jakarr Sampson isn't because Grant played for one of the best coaches in the country and Sampson didn't. Syracuse players, like dead rappers, just get better promotion.

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