Brandon Sampson already knows plenty about pressure.
The 6-foot-5 Madison Prep senior-to-be was thrust into the spotlight last season as the leader of a young basketball team that finished as the Class 1A runner-up.
Despite a list of scholarship offers that recently grew to include UCLA, there is one kind of stress Sampson vows to avoid — the pressure to sign early.
“I want to take some visits in the fall, but I’m not planning to sign until late,” Sampson said. “That gives me the chance to look at all the schools during their season. I want to take some time.”
Time should be on Sampson’s side after an eventful summer. Sampson attended three elite camps, several AAU basketball tournaments and also was sidelined by a concussion. Madison Prep coach Jeffery Jones and Sampson refutes media accounts that have listed a group of finalists he will visit.
“When we were out in Las Vegas for (the Fab 48 Tournament) last weekend there were a lot of people sticking microphones in his face,” Jones said. “He averaged about 30 points a game and everybody wanted to talk to him. Brandon did the best he could and said what he thought at that time. There was definitely a West Coast slant to the questions that were asked.
“I saw one list that had him visiting USC and (Wednesday) he didn’t remember right away that USC has offered him. It’s not set yet. This is a process that is going to take some time. That’s why we’re planning to sit down once school starts and come up with a list of schools.”
Jones said Sampson has 20-30 scholarship offers and noted that the process to settle on five schools for official visits will begin once Madison Prep starts its 2014-15 school year Aug. 11.
An ideal scenario, Jones said, would be two of three fall visits and the rest in the spring, pushing Sampson’s signing back to April during the NCAA’s spring signing period. The Madison Prep coach said LSU, Oklahoma State and St. John’s have all been recruiting Sampson for three years, a factor he considers notable. In addition to the recent offer from UCLA, Jones said Sampson also got has offers from USC, Wake Forest, UNLV and California in recent weeks.
Sampson is considered to be Louisiana’s top 2015 prospect and rated among the nation’s top 50 seniors, including a No. 38 ranking in the ESPN 100. He averaged 24.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game for a Chargers team that finished as the 1A runner-up to Country Day.
“Getting stronger was one thing I worked on this summer,” said Sampson, noting that he now weighs 180 pounds. “Everybody on that next level is going to be stronger, and I’ll have to be physically stronger.
“I knew if I played well this summer I’d be able to pick up more scholarship offers. One of the things I’m looking for in a college is a place where they develop players and make them better. I want to have a good relationship with the coaches. I want to know I’ll be taken care of.”
Sampson’s summer started with trips to the Pangos All-American Basketball Camp in Long Beach, California, and the NBA’s Top 100 camp at the University of Virginia. He suffered the concussion during the Stephen Curry Camp held in Oakland and sat out three weeks in July.
The busy summer came after a season that included some ups and downs for Sampson and Chargers.
“People don’t realize how much of a transition year last year was for Brandon,” Jones said. “When he played as a sophomore he had Jarell (Martin, current LSU player) and Chad Williams, who were seniors, so there wasn’t a lot of pressure. He was free to roam around.
“We had two juniors, six sophomores and six freshmen last year. He was clearly our guy, and every night everybody geared up to stop him. This summer he showed a lot more maturity and was able to handle those situations. I think he’s ready to have a great senior year.”