Four-star wing Jermaine Samuels’ introduction to Indiana basketball came in a 20-minute conversation.
Well, his formal introduction anyway.
It came during July on a phone conversation with IU coach Tom Crean.
“He was talking about how I played and everything and how he like the way I played and he said, ‘Would you like a scholarship offer to Indiana?’ I was like, ‘I don’t really know how to answer that?’” Samuels said.
“He was like, ‘You want it?’ and I was like ‘Yeah!’
“Ever since, he’s been in contact and coach (Chuck) Martin have been in contact.”
Samuels is a 6-foot-6 wing from The Rivers School in Weston, Mass., and the Expressions Elite AAU program.
He is ranked No. 60 nationally in the 2017 class by Scout.com.
The Hoosiers have continued to stay in contact with Samuels, who is in the process of looking at visits.
Even before his conversations with Crean and Martin, Samuels had a strong impression of Indiana basketball.
“I’m definitely interested in Indiana. They’re a big-time school. They always have been,” Samuels said. “I know they develop guards, and I’m a guard, so it’s good from that standpoint, too.
“They said when I graduate, they’ll be losing some players and that my style of play fits theirs. They see me as a big-time player as I continue to develop my ball-handling and maturing as a player,” he said.
“That’s what they see, a lot of potential and the ability to step in and play right away.”
Samuels has been getting a lot of attention from Indiana, Villanova, Pittsburgh, Kansas, Georgetown and others. Xavier was recruiting him a lot before taking two other wings in the 2017 class.
Duke watched him in Las Vegas but hasn’t been actively pursuing him.
Samuels said playing time, education and a school with a proven track record of developing players at his position are key factors.
“It’s about them wanting me to get better and better and better. That’s what matters to me the most,” Samuels said.
“I don’t think I’m a finished product in any way. I feel like I have so much improvement to make. I feel like once I step on a college campus, I can work every day at something, and I think that’s important.
“I would love to come in and start, but I know there’s going to be some guys ahead of me, older than me. If I can be a sixth man or something, that’d be great because I feel I can step on the floor and play with anybody. I definitely want to be in the game as much as possible.”
Samuels had a strong AAU season and looked fine after suffering a knee injury last year. The right-hander said he needed surgery to repair his left patella tendon and that kept him off the court for five months.
Samuels said the No. 1 player he tries to model his game after is Indiana Pacers forward Paul George.
“He has the ability to lead his team and score the ball, and on the other end, he wants to defend like crazy. He wants to guard the other team’s best player,” Samuels said.
“He gives it all he’s got. I wouldn’t say he carries his team on his back, but he’s carrying the load. I think he plays with a chip on his shoulder and that reminds me of me, so I want to be like him.”
Samuels said his approach is simple.
“Whatever it takes to win. When I get out there, I’ll get a feel for everything, try not to force it too much, let the game come to me,” he said.
“The objective of the game is to win. If I’ve got to grab rebounds — the ball may not go in— I’ll go grab rebounds, get steals, everything, anything. The motto to me is just win.”
What Peegs.com saw from Samuels watching him in the Peach Jam and in the Fab 48 in July:
Jermaine Samuels is long and bouncy with very good quickness and very good ability to get off the floor. He plays much taller than 6-foot-6 and rebounds very well for that height. He hit several jumpers from the 15- to 18-foot range, drove the ball well with good change of direction and took it to the rim with aggressiveness. On defense, he used his length and quickness. He showed he can elevate to block shots, can get a rebound and start up the court. He didn’t show big-time 3-point shooting and his handle needs to be tighter. He did show a tendency at times to drive all the way to the rim regardless of the defense and got caught in congestion when a pull-up jumper or pass would have better a better play.