"When you go out on the court it's a different mindset," Samuels said. "The opposing teams are all enemies when you go out on the court. My pops is always telling me you have no friends on the court and that sticks with me and makes me go harder."
Faced with opponents who were holding and pulling him in an effort to slow him down on Friday night, Samuels first let the frustration get to him. After yet another no-call as he scored in traffic, he said "And one!" and the referee took exception – issuing him a technical foul.
"I was just frustrated," he explained. "Guys were grabbing my arm, typical of trying to antagonize the big man. I fell into it and that won't happen again."
But then he used it as motivation, putting forth a dominating performance as he cements his ranking as the top center in the rising senior class.
"I took out my frustration on the court," he said.
Samuels had 23 points, on 11-of-16 shooting, and tallied five blocks – this in spite of only playing about half the game. He maneuvered and overpowered for baskets down low, while also impressing with his ability to run the floor, be it for dunks on offense or blocks on defense. One sequence included a reverse dunk in traffic on one end and then he raced back down to stop a fast break by blocking a shot into the stands. He was a few missed jumpers and the technical foul away from a perfect performance.
Samuels noted the similarities he sees in his game to UNC All-American Tyler Hansbrough.
"When I watch [Hansbrough] I can see a lot of what I do on the court in being aggressive," he said.
And that's the Samuels you see on the court -- the aggression, the mean streak. But as soon as the game ends and he walks off the court for postgame interviews, he transforms into a gentle giant. The ear-to-ear smile is non-stop, his voice is so soft you have to strain to hear what he's saying and his responses to questions are filled with shy laughs.
In this particular interview on Friday night, Samuels provided little info on his recruiting situation, that shy demeanor with a group of reporters present preventing him from disclosing the more detailed information he's provided in recent weeks. He reiterated his current list of schools – UNC, Florida, UConn and Louisville – and explained that he plans to take official visits to each of them this fall.
The last face of Samardo Samuels is not one reporters or fans get to see. This is an easy-going jokester who's more vocal than most.
"I like to have fun," Samuels said. "We want to win, but we like to have fun doing it."
One person who knows him this way is fellow top-ranked junior Delvon Roe, who met Samuels on the circuit last summer and their friendship developed further on a visit to Chapel Hill last fall.
"Me and Delvon keep in close contact," Samuels said. "He's recruiting me … he says a lot of interesting things."
Roe said of Samuels, "He's a real funny kid. He's not that quiet [when not being interviewed]."
And Samuels is not that quiet on the court either. Just ask the first three opponents he steamrolled this weekend.