March 21, 2002
BERKELEY - Cal freshman Jamal Sampson announced today that he is declaring himself eligible for the 2002 NBA Draft. A 6-11, 235-pound center/forward from Inglewood, Sampson averaged 6.4 points and 6.5 rebounds while blocking 54 shots for the Bears during the 2001-02 season.
"After careful consideration, I have decided to make myself eligible for the upcoming NBA Draft," Sampson said. "I've talked to members of my family and other people familiar with the NBA and realized that this is the best decision for me at the this time."
Sampson said he does not plan on hiring an agent yet, leaving open the possibility of returning to school if his draft position is not favorable.
"I have enjoyed this year at Cal," Sampson said. "I like the team and the coaching staff, and it was a good decision for me to go to Cal. I felt that Coach (Ben) Braun and the staff have helped me prepare for the next level."
During his freshman year, Sampson started 31 of 32 games for the Bears and led the team in rebounding 16 times. He was voted MVP of the BCA Classic in November and was a Pac-10 All-Freshman selection in March. His 54 blocks are the third-highest total on Cal's season list.
Sampson scored a career-high 15 points twice, first vs. Fresno State Dec. 11. Against Washington Jan. 17, Sampson also poured in 15 points, to go with a career-best 17 rebounds, three assists and five blocks.
"This decision was made by Jamal and his family," Braun said. "I support him in the decision, but I'd personally like to see him come back to school, as I would with all players. Each person has to review his own opportunities and be responsible for his own path. Jamal is talking about an opportunity that has presented itself. It's up to Jamal to make that decision. I hope his tenure at Cal was helpful to him."
Sampson entered Cal last fall after earning third team Parade All-America honors at Mater Dei High School in Southern California. As a senior, he averaged 15.5 ppg, 10.0 rpg and 2.4 bpg, helping Mater Dei to the state championship, a 33-2 record and a No. 4 national ranking from USA Today.
Cal completed the 2001-02 season with a 23-9 overall record and a tie for second place in the Pac-10. The Bears advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a win over Penn before losing to Pittsburgh last weekend.