Mater Dei’s Sampson Has Change of Heart


Ruth Smith, the mother of Mater Dei center Jamal Sampson, said her son will not declare himself eligible for the June 27 NBA draft.

“Jamal will be attending Cal. That’s the only comment I’m going to give,” Smith said.

The 6-foot-11 Sampson, who has signed with California, said last week that he was considering turning pro if he was guaranteed to be selected in the middle of the first round. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

“Jamal feels his folks are not real happy with him making that statement,” Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight said. “He is going to go to college. I don’t know what he was thinking. He has a mind of his own.


“I told him I didn’t think he thought it out very well. He said, ‘I didn’t know everyone would be so upset.’ I said, ‘Jamal, you need to go to college, and if after a couple of years, your game is to that level, that would be a great move. Right now, you’re young and you need that [college] competition.’ ”

Mater Dei issued a press release Tuesday asserting that Sampson’s comments “were not indicative of his plans for the future.”

“I am looking forward to expanding my academic as well as my athletic goals at Cal next season and throughout my college career,” Sampson said in the release. Last week, Sampson said the reason he was considering turning pro over attending Cal was because he wasn’t “really into school.”

High school players do not need their parents’ permission to declare themselves eligible for the draft, NBA spokesman Peter Steber said.

Sampson averaged 15.5 points, 10 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots for the Monarchs during his senior season but missed 22 games over his last two years because of illnesses and injuries.

He is expected to have a bone spur removed from his right foot in April.

Cal Coach Ben Braun, who signed a four-year contract extension Tuesday that runs through the 2008-09 season, did not return phone calls seeking comment.