At 6-foot-6 and just shy of 200 lbs., Jermaine Samuels has earned the second glances that he received from college coaches during his noteworthy high school career.
The 4-star small forward excelled in his home state of Massachusetts, graduating from The Rivers School this past spring. His defense is most praised, with reports throughout his young career describing the ease of which he picks the ball from the competition, changing the tide of a game in a heartbeat, and surprising many with his athleticism.
Throughout high school, Samuels performed best as a small forward, but could potentially fill a few different roles for the Wildcats, especially as the needs of the new team are realized over the course of the year. With some work, Samuels could provide Villanova with the type of player needed to fill the shoes left behind by recent graduate Josh Hart. Hart, who was picked in the first round of the NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, was known for his impressive athleticism and consistent ability to finish.
Before signing on with Villanova in late August of 2016, many were expecting Samuels to commit to Duke. While on an official visit to Villanova, an offer from the Blue Devils made many believe that he would be heading to Durham. However, that two-day visit to Villanova offered him a look at a more tantalizing future: An opportunity to compete for early playing time right at the beginning of his freshman year. Throughout the recruitment process, playing time was clearly a factor that Samuels valued, and when Alex O’Connell (Top 75) verbally committed to Duke, the scales may have tipped over the edge in Villanova’s favor.
It isn’t hard to imagine why Villanova wanted him on their upcoming roster, and after hearing what head coach Jay Wright had to say about the future Wildcat, it's clearer than ever. Coach Wright compared Samuels to Villanova alum Curtis Sumpter, a 2007 graduate who played for the men’s team for four full years. In the 2004-05 season, he averaged 15.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game and helped lead ‘Nova to the Sweet 16. Sumpter also earned first team All-Big East honors that same season as well.
Samuels already has a great defensive playing style, and it’s expected that he will improve as he learns from those more experienced than him. If there are only seconds left on the shot clock, Samuels is who you want with the ball. He excels when under pressure, becoming more focused and serious when the situations become more and more intense. His long-distance 3-pointers are nothing to blink an eye at, and he’s clearly been able to dunk for years now.
Samuels excels on multiple fronts, and is definitely going to be able to find his place among Villanova teammates Phil Booth, Omari Spellman, and the other Wildcats.
Keep an eye out for Samuels this fall. He may not get a considerable amount of minutes right off the bat, but his apparently tireless dedication to his sport will show through before conference play is over. Villanova may just be able to fashion a new weapon before the next NCAA tournament is upon them.