Regardless of which field you’re in, you have to understand in order to be great, you have to be patient with your development. It’s a truth many people normally reject but ultimately have to accept, especially in the world of sports. Of course, this player believes they’re a starter. Why wouldn’t this assistant coach thrive to become a head coach? Yet in order to achieve their biggest goals, they must be willing to not only work hard, but possess great patience because if they do then only great things can occur.
Villanova’s Jermaine Samuels is actually a prime example of this belief. The junior Forward spent his first two seasons dealing with injuries, tough competition, and having to earn the trust of head coach Jay Wright before finally breaking through at the end of last season. Despite just averaging six points per game and five rebounds per game in his 22 starts for the Wildcats, Samuels became a big-time contributor in March.
Over the Wildcats’ final eight games (including the Big East & NCAA Tournaments), Samuels scored double-digit points six times, with his biggest performance coming in a 67-61 victory vs. ranked conference rival Marquette; which saw Samuels produced 29 points and nine rebounds.
I had the chance with the Franklin, Mass native at the Big East Media Day last month and he was very eager to begin this season as the Wildcats have a lot to learn about themselves.
Arden: Was it very difficult at first to transition into playing for a championship-contending program?
JS: It definitely was at first and it had to do with my mentality. Coming from playing high school basketball, where it was just about playing and practicing whenever you had the chance, I noticed it changed upon coming to Villanova. Over here, you realize it’s bigger than you and whether or not, you’re willing to sacrifice anything for the sake of your team. There was also a great lesson to learn in regards to preparation and knowing how to focus on those little details that’ll make a huge difference. Fortunately, I got used to it (smiles).
Arden: Last season, you saw your growth as a player, especially at the end. But what helped you get to that point?
JS: I would say, it was my decision-making. I learned a lot about that aspect of the game on both sides of the floor, such as when to shoot, pass, or play a certain way on defense. And to go back to what I said about preparation, I began to embrace that last season, especially with practice and what we do in order to improve and compete at a high level.
Arden: How you do deal with suddenly getting the attention of your opponents, who are determined to contain you?
JS: It’s pretty cool, to be honest (laughs), but I look at it more as a opportunity to create for my teammates. Yes, I can do my own thing but it’s great being able to help others out, while also making the defense’s job tougher.
Arden: Obviously, you guys have a really good freshman in Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. Have you guys been getting to know each other?
JS: Oh, absolutely. Jeremiah is really a good kid off the court and he’s actually hilarious. As for on the court, you’re talking about a player who works extremely hard, is very smart and willing to ask questions, and possesses a great physical frame with his size and athleticism. Jeremiah takes a lot of pride in learning our system and it’s been great being his teammate.
Arden: If there’s one word to describe this year’s Villanova Wildcats, what would it be?
JS: Attitude. Nothing more, nothing less (laughs).