Things Will Pick Up After Rio For 4* Jermaine Samuels and Duke

As the summer has progressed, the Blue Devils recruiting board has both solidified and expanded.   The top targets have been well known for months, but a few other names have also risen up the priority lists.  One such name is four star small forward Jermaine Samuels who spoke with TDD about his recruitment and Duke’s placement within that process.

When you look back at this spring and summer tour, what are your thoughts on how it all went for you?

It went pretty well. I didn’t really think I did that well until I guess Peach Jam, that’s when I think it really set off. Some games I had a good game and others I wasn’t happy with myself with the way I played but we still won and I did the intangible thing. I didn’t think I was doing much except for playing the game the right way that was catching people’s eye, but then Peach Jam hit and I was nearly averaging a double-double and we were winning close games and I was playing the best basketball I had played in a long time. That was really big there.

How would you describe your role was for your Expressions Elite team?

Basically what they told me was to just play my game and he said I’m not going to be mad if you are aggressive, so long as it’s within the flow and I’m not being selfish about it. That was coach’s main message to me. Other than that, once I started taking more pride in the match-ups that I had because I was playing the best player typically in each game, that’s when I became a head defensive guy for my team and I had to take each matchup personally in order for us to win because if you take on the main guy and shut him down, it’s a tough day for the other team. So that happened and then when my team told me that we need you to rebound more because Nick (Richards) can’t do all the work, so basically it wasn’t even like my coach was telling me that I have to go do everything, it was just them telling me be Jermaine and be everywhere. That was basically it.

How did you feel about how you did guarding guys defensively both on the perimeter and in the post?

Perimeter wise I think I held my own against almost every guy I played against. I enjoy playing the best player because I always enjoy a challenge and I like seeing how well I play against real tough competition. I think I did well in my opinion. Still need to work on some things, but I think I did well.

Let’s talk about how your game as evolved over the past year or two, what changed or improved in that time period?

I think I made pretty good strides. Freshman year I was bigger than most everybody else I was playing, so I could get away with some stuff that led to high rankings and things like that. Then my sophomore year I had an injury, so I wasn’t as up to my full self and I was also still trying to figure out what type of player I was and I had some trouble with that. Then coming into my junior year I started playing more confidently and I started finding out about who I am as a player and things I need to work on while also learning what I do and how I can help my team. So really it’s been about finding out who I am as a player and finding out what I do best.

With that, I think probably it’s fair to say that what I bring to the team is energy, keeping the intensity going, defense, rebounding, just doing everything, whatever it takes to win, I just want to bring a winner’s mentality to the game. I’m not going to be the type of dude who complains about I didn’t get this touch or that touch. Then translate that to college, that’s going to be my job and obviously get better with my handle and to bring to the team a defensive mindset, a slasher, a rebounder, because those are the things that I’m being recruited for which is what I do best.

Are the majority of schools who are recruiting you envisioning you to be more of a stretch forward?

I think I’m being recruited to be a developing two guard because I’m the type who can guard a wing but I can also guard a 4 if need be. That’s where my versatility comes into play.

You mentioned the recruiting attention took off around Peach Jam and afterwords, how did you handle that?

At first I didn’t pay it too much mind to who was actually sitting at my games. But then a lot of them, some new, some old were telling me around Peach Jam that you are doing a great job, you are killing it. Then soon you start seeing Bill Self and Coach K at some of your games and then it’s like ok, I now I really see what’s going on.

When you were seeing those coaches at your games, were you aware at that point that they were coming specifically for you?

Yeah I think so, definitely. Nick (Richards) had already gotten all that attention and Tremont (Waters) had already gotten all that attention as well, so then I saw them and I thought that it was my time for that now. That was a new experience for me. Then I knew it was time to show what I do best because first of all, I’m all about getting the win, that’s first and foremost, you have to win. So I really tried to let my game shine through us winning and I didn’t necessarily feel any pressure because they already know from the other scouts what I do. It was all about then just showing them exactly what I do face to face while they are there. I didn’t feel any pressure or anything like that.

Which new coaches were either really surprising to you or were exciting to you that you were being watched by them for the first time?

Surprised I would say. Seeing Coach K was probably the most, I don’t even know how to describe it other than I didn’t even realize it was real initially when I saw him at my games initially sitting by himself because normally college coaches sit together and I knew he was there for me because I knew he wasn’t there for Tremont or Nick. I was just like, that was probably the only coach that just made me feel a little nervous before a game. All the other ones that were the new ones that came in, Coach K was the only one that really caught my eye.

Why do you think that was the case for you?

I think it was just its Coach K and he was at my game.

So when did the communication process start with you and Duke?

Nate James had hit me up a bunch of different times saying that they were interested. After Peach Jam is when they said that they were really interested in me and they love the way I play.  They didn’t say that we’re going to offer me, it was just that they were interested and that they wanted to see more during the summer. Then after Peach Jam I was sitting in the car and Coach K called me and he was telling me how much he loved my game and how well I played and that’s how the communication process started with them.

How did you react?

I was shocked because I didn’t know the number when he called me. When he called me, then I was like alright, now it’s really serious because Coach K is calling me.

What did you notice about Duke’s interest with you after Peach Jam?

After that, Coach K was going to Rio, so he sent Nate James to most of my games and he came all the way out to Massachusetts and also he came out to Vegas, so I could see them really boosting up the interest. Then me and Coach K talked a little bit after that. He had texted me and told me that he was looking forward to getting to know me.  I asked him if he was offering because Nate James kept saying how much they liked my game and complimenting me on it and so I was like, my dad was asking are they ever going to offer since they are telling me I’m playing well. Basically Nate James told me to that was that Coach K is really busy right now with Team USA and once he gets back we’ll go from there. It sounds like they are going to offer, but they want to get to know me a little bit better before he does that. Coach K wants to get to know me better.

How do you feel about where you are in the recruiting process with Duke at this point?

Kinda excited, it’s Duke Basketball, you can’t really, there’s nothing wrong with that you know. I’m just being patient and taking it all in, I’m not complaining.

Have you given any further thought to the potential conversations with Coach K once he gets back from Rio?

I’m just really waiting to hear what he has to say, that’s about it right now.

Have you and your dad discussed at all what the next steps are with you if Duke were to offer?

No, not really. We haven’t really talked about that. We just want to see what happens. That’s an offer I’m waiting for. I’m cool with everything else, just waiting to hear what they have to say. We’ll probably take a visit once we hear what they have to say and so that I can see what it’s like down there and see if it’s a good fit for me.

Is that potential visit likely to be an official visit and if so, are there any other programs that you are seriously looking at for an official visit?

I have an official visit on August 24 to Villanova and I’m starting to figure out official visit dates for Indiana.

What has Duke said to you about how they view you as a player if you were to go there?

I don’t think they have, I can’t remember if they have talked about that. I think they are going to have Coach K talk about that with me.

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