Occasionally, a small line in a recruiting article can suggest a whole lot. According to a recent story by JJHuddle praising Jakarr Sampson as the clear top player in Ohio for 2011, Michigan State has "recently come back into the picture" in his recruiting. This could suggest a shift in the focus of MSU's current recruiting picture. Watching the various scenarios in recruiting is one of the most interesting aspects. Every player's decision, each priority adjusted by the coaching staff, any commit taken, etc., all have a domino effect of ramifications. Whether MSU should put the "full press" on Jakarr Sampson is one of the key pieces in MSU's basketball recruiting puzzle.MSU has been watching Jakarr for a long time. Last year, when he was still a lower-profile 3-star recruit, Michigan State brought him in during an unofficial visit and put him through a workout. Since then, he has been one of the 2011 class's biggest risers and has leaped to near five-star status. Despite the visit, it's looked like MSU was merely hanging in the recruitment while remaining outside the principle players - possibly because Izzo had not extended Sampson a full committable offer. There may be some lingering questions about his grades leading to the slow play. Aspects of Adreian Payne's recruitment could be seen as a precedent. MSU was talked about as being involved for a long time though few observers believed they were in the forefront of the race until the final months leading up to the November signing period when he became a Spartan.
The question is what it might mean for MSU to ramp up their pursuit of this player and make him a full-on recruiting target. With two primarily wing players already committed (Brandon Kearney and Dwaun Anderson), room for such players is limited. MSU is after five-star Gary Harris of Indiana for 2012 and interested in keeping a spot for Branden Dawson who is deciding in the Spring.
If MSU were to add Jakarr Sampson to the 2011 class, I have to believe the chances of Branden Dawson becoming a Spartan drop significantly. Neither a point guard nor a big man would be out of place in the class and only one spot would remain after Sampson. Taking two more wing players would not only unbalance the roster but it may also create a log jam for playing time and alienate 2012 wing targets.
That said, though Sampson's game is described as that of a true wing, I have to believe that a 195 lbs, 6'8" player will develop his frame over a college career to spend situational time in the post. Not only is Sampson a rare player who can play effectively on the wing at his size (think Raymar Morgan) but he may contribute to what is shaping up to be a period in Spartan basketball when Tom Izzo has incredible versatility at his disposal. Sampson appears to be a comparable yet preferable option to someone like Tommie McCune who has been unable to play himself into a full offer.
If Sampson's game is worthy of his elevated stock (and MSU's renewed interest could be an indication that it is), it may be wise to make him a Spartan even if it means jeopardizing Branden Dawson. It's up to Izzo how confident he feels with BD but considering the Gary, Indiana star is a heavy Purdue target content to wait until April, Izzo can't feel that confident. This may be a time to take a bird in the hand and focus on 2012 while finishing 2011 with a post player (Mike Shaw?) or point guard. MSU could add Sampson and leave a window open for Dawson if other Plan A targets fall through before April.
If you'd like to see one of the more impressive videos of Jakarr in action, check here. He's #14.