He isn’t projected to be selected in many mock drafts and he’s ranked low in top 100 lists, but JaKarr Sampson enters Thursday’s NBA Draft with the same confidence the St. John’s product emitted when he made the surprising move to declare following his sophomore season.

“I feel like I’m going to get drafted, I feel like I’ve proven myself with all my workouts,” the 6-foot-8 Akron, Ohio native said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “I still feel like I did the right thing. I feel very confident in myself. I feel like it was the right time to make the jump. I feel like I’m ready.”
Sampson worked out for 13 teams and took part at the mini-combine in Los Angeles in front of all 30 teams. He believes he displayed improved ball handling, range on his jump shot out to the 3-point line and the potential to be a lockdown defender one day.

His agent, Seth Cohen of Verus Management Team, said four teams — he wouldn’t name them — have shown “tremendous” interest in Sampson. One team, Cohen said, even asked them to cut off other workouts, with the promise they would sign Sampson as soon as the draft ended.

“Should he go undrafted, I’ll get no less than a half dozen calls from teams for [the NBA] summer league and after summer league, I’ll get a ton of calls for offers coming into [training] camp,” Cohen said, adding teams would like to see Sampson add muscle to his 215-pound frame and eliminate the hitch in his jumper. “There hasn’t been one team that hasn’t confirmed his athleticism isn’t elite at the NBA level.”

Elan Vinokurov, president of EZ Hoops, a professional scouting service NBA teams subscribe to, said though Sampson has displayed an improved skill set on the perimeter in workouts he still considers it a “humongous long shot” for Sampson to get drafted and said Sampson “made a poor decision,” a viewpoint NBA director of scouting Ryan Blake agreed with, saying “he could get lost in translation” because of the loaded draft.

NBA draft consultant Chris Ekstrand sees NBA potential in Sampson, but said he believes he needs at least a year in the D-League to further refine his game, whether a team takes a flier on him late in the second round or not.