Samardo Samuels: Better than J.R.?

When Samardo Samuels first came over from Jamaica, he was thin and had a temper. Now the 6-foot-10 junior has added bulk to go along with his intensity. The St. Benedict's (N.J.) big man (, No. 7) has become one of the most sought-after players in the Class of 2008.

Dan Hurley wastes no words when it comes to junior big man Samardo Samuels.

``He's the best player I've had since I've been here," Hurley said of the St. Benedict's (N.J.) standout.

What about current pro J.R. Smith?

``As a junior, Samardo has had more of an impact," Hurley said. "He's had to average a double-double."

Samuels (, No. 7) scored 22 points and had 5 rebounds in a one-point win against Towson Catholic (Md.). One of the reasons why he only pulled down a handful of boards was because he was on the perimeter guarding versatile junior Donte Greene,'s seventh-rated player in the Class of 2007.

``He plays hard," Hurley said. "It wasn't a good game for him because defensively it took away from his offensive focus. We're used to him playing better than he did today."

The 6-foot-9, 245-pound Samuels is a completely different player from the time when he arrived in the U.S. from Jamaica.

``I came in at 215 pounds for one thing," Samuels said.

``He had a short temper," added current teammate Corey Stokes. "We played him a few times when he was with Our Savior and all ‘Mardo used to do was dunk. He used to get mad a lot. Since he got here, his attitude has changed a lot and he's been a great leader."

Now Samuels is known for just going out, playing hard and getting results. While many of the big man are ranked high due to their potential, Samuels is all about production.

That's rare – especially for a big man who took up the sport when he was 13.

Samuels said that while UConn and North Carolina aren't necessarily in a class by themselves for his services, the pair is certainly heavily in the mix. He also mentioned Louisville and local schools such as Georgetown, Rutgers and Seton Hall.

The Hoyas are selling him on being the next Patrick Ewing and Seton Hall is in the mix because of former teammate Eugene Harvey. Hurley also mentioned Florida.

``I just want to find what's the best fit for me," Samuels said. "I consider myself an enforcer and I'm going to make then give me the ball inside wherever I go. I want to go somewhere I'm going to get better and excel."

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