Samuels Marches On

Samardo Samuels is approaching a crossroads in his recruitment. He has one visit remaining on his schedule and then afterwards a decision could possibly follow.

The race for the nation's top-ranked center prospect is in full swing. Samuels, a 6-foot-8 standout from Montego Bay by way of St. Benedicts Prep, remains one of the most heavily recruited players in America.

Who's in there? North Carolina, Florida, Connecticut, Louisville, St. John's, Rutgers and Seton Hall. Who's trying hard? Kentucky.

"Kentucky has made a late push," said Steve Johnston, Samuels guardian and Vice President of Jamaica Basketball Development, Inc.. "They've contacted us. Coach Cox contacted me and I've had some conversations with Coach Gillispie. It's Kentucky and it's not a school to be ignored."

However, it could be too late to make a serious dent into what is an established recruitment.

The situation could go one of two ways. Samuels, who is scheduled to visit Louisville unofficially June 8-10, could decide within the next month. The big man could also opt to wait until the fall to make his choice.

Basically, after the Louisville trip Samuels will have seen all of the schools on his list. There are no further plans to make unofficial visits. Theoretically the homework, once the visit is completed, will have been done and it'll be an issue of comfort for Samuels at that point.

Interestingly enough, the process hasn't been without its twists and turns. Most recently Brandon Jennings picked Arizona when many thought UConn would be a major player until the end. Jennings said if he picked UConn he would have leaned on Samuels to go with him. Either way, once Jennings picked Arizona the Wildcats tried to get involved.

Before the Jennings decision, another Samuels acquaintance selected Michigan State. Delvon Roe and Samuels were on an unofficial together to Chapel Hill last year. Also, since the Final Four, Georgetown has fallen off and is no longer in the mix.

"A lot of kids he's close to him have gone in different directions," Johnston said. Samuels' list has remained fairly constant by design.

"We've stuck with guys that we've developed relationships with. Samardo is the kind of kid that he has to feel comfortable with his coach," Johnston said. "It's very, very important to him. He wants to be able to relate to his coach. He's a family oriented kid. That family atmosphere is something that he's really looking for."

Just to reiterate -- while Johnson said the process could end in the "near future," meaning within a month from now, it could also weave itself into the fabric of fall official visits.

"This could take a direction either way. Wherever he commits he wants to be able to prepare to be a player for that school before his senior year."

Major national powers are tangling with local Big East up-and-comers for the young man's services. Will he join an established power broker or help in the resurrection of local program?

"Samardo's a confident young man. He feels like wherever he goes he's going to help that team do well. He's not concerned so much about the players that go with him because he can make it happen.

"That's why schools like St. John's, Rutgers and Seton Hall have a chance because he really feels like wherever he goes he can help become a (big) winner."

Samuels is ranked the No. 6 prospect in the nation by and the top center in the Class of 2008.

Samardo Samuels Profile

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