Samuels Strives To Improve

Scout.com's No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2008 is Samardo Samuels. The St. Benedict's product grew as a player and saw his recruitment take off in his second high school season.

Samardo Samuels has come a long way from his days growing up in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The 6-foot-8 big man who now runs with St. Benedict's, learned a lot early on by playing with older guys in his home country. It's showing in approach as a high school player and his development.

"There's a lot of memories," Samuels said. "I would play with the grown men and they'd help me out. When I started I couldn't make the lay-ups and I'd be on the floor all the time. I've come a long way. The way I played, in Jamaica I have a big body. I was about 6-foot-7 and was getting my shot blocked. I didn't like it. I would get mad and they'd taunt me everyday in the hot sun in Jamaica."

And now the tables have turned. It's Samuels who has a man's body, a burgeoning game and a future that is just as hot as the sun he toiled under in Jamaica.

"I think, from a basketball understanding of how to play within the framework of a system in terms of offensive and defensive responsibilities, he's always been physically talented and a dominating presence," St. Benedict's coach Dan Hurley said.

"From a basketball IQ standpoint, he's made huge strides which is a big part for him to play in college and a level beyond that. His perimeter skills by the end of the year – he was stepping out shooting 15-17 foot shots and my expectation for him is to play a four like Lance Thomas played for us. He's got that type of skill level."

Speaking of Thomas, Samuels credits the McDonald's All-American with pushing and forcing him to expand his own game. "Lance Thomas forced me to become a better defensive player. Sometimes I knew I wouldn't be the leading scorer so I had to fill up my stats in other places like rebounding and blocking shots."

In the midst of a strong sophomore season, Samuels performed before a slew of big time head coaches. Louisville, Rutgers, Connecticut, Texas, Duke and North Carolina, along with Virginia and St. John's are on him hard.

Don't read too much into schools associated with Samuels because recruiting isn't his focus at this stage in his career. Frankly, why should it be? The young is the kind of talent that, if he continues progressing, can play where he wants.

"Right now I'm just trying to get my grades up to be eligible. I've got two more years and I don't pay much attention. When the time comes I want to be eligible.

"I'm still trying to get better. That's my main focus: getting better each day."


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