Samuels puts on show in Louisville

Louisville fans got their first up close look at future star Samardo Samuels Saturday night in the Neutral Zone Showcase. There's no doubt UofL fans came away impressed with the 6'8, 240-pound St. Benedict's Prep standout.

Louisville fans got their first up close look at future star Samardo Samuels Saturday night in the Neutral Zone Showcase. There's no doubt UofL fans came away impressed with the 6'8, 240-pound St. Benedict's Prep standout.

Samuels, who signed with Louisville last fall, led his team to 56-48 win over Cincinnati Princeton. Samuels scored a game-high 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting and also had a game-high 15 rebounds.

"It was a great atmosphere," Samuels said. "I came here for the opening game when Louisville played Georgetown and the fans were going wild. I know it's a town that loves basketball. But I didn't know it was going to be a turnout like this today."

"For us it was a great opportunity to get out here and play in Louisville with Samardo coming next year to be a Cardinal," said St. Benedict's coach Danny Hurley. "I thought it would be a great opportunity to get out here and see how much the fans love their basketball."

After the game, Samuels admitted that he wanted to put on a good show for his future fans.

"I came out here definitely to show the Louisville fans what I can do," Samuels said.

Samuels has enjoyed an outstanding senior season. He's averaged 24 points and 12 rebounds, collected several prestigious tournament MVP awards and was recently named to the McDonalds All-American team.

"Samardo's had a year that should earn him National Player of the Year at the high school level for the games he's won and the performances that he's put on against the best players," Hurley said.

As good as Samuels currently is – he's ranked the No. 2 player in the nation by Scout.com – he knows there is still plenty of room for improvement.

"The one thing most people say I need to work on is sprinting up and down the court and getting more easy baskets," Samuels said. "I've been trying to do that. I've been watching Karl Malone highlights and try to model myself after players like that."

Hurley doesn't think that will be a problem once he gets to Louisville to play for Rick Pitino.

"I think when he gets here with the strength and conditioning coaches that they have he's going to really explode and be an even better play," Hurley said. "It's something you know when you sign on with Coach Pitino at Louisville you're going to be in great shape. If that's his only concern he's going to have a pretty good career here."

Samuels also was a perfect 10 for 10 from the free throw line – a statistic that might have surprised his coach earlier in the season.

"It's gotten better as the year has gone on," Samuels said. "The first couple of games it was brutal at the free throw line. Towards the end (of the season) I'm not trying to lose any games and free throws are big. You got to knock them down. So I try to focus and knock them down."

Though Louisville played in Providence Saturday afternoon, Pitino and assistants Steve Masiello and Walter McCarty arrived after halftime to see Samuels in action.

"I watch Louisville and I try to see things they do good and how the players at my position operate their offense and defense to see how I can contribute and fit in," Samuels said. "I just want to be a high energy player and create offense when they need it. I just want to be the best post player they have and help them be better as a team."


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