Penn State’s last NCAA Tournament appearance was in 2011, meaning it predates any of the current Nittany Lions’ arrival in the program by more than three years.
But there is one PSU player who not only competed in the tournament, but also won a national championship.
We are speaking, of course, about guard Terrence Samuel, who spent two years as a reserve at UConn — and helped the Huskies win the NCAA title when he was a freshman in 2014 — before transferring to Penn State after his sophomore season. The 6-foot-3, 208-pounder sat out last season and returns to action this fall with junior eligibility.
On a team with no seniors and only three other active juniors, the 22-year-old Samuel is already a leader for the Lions.
“The guys, they look up to me,” he said at PSU basketball media day earlier this week. “They ask me about my experience — if I think we’re capable of being an NCAA contender.”
His answer to that question might surprise you.
“I say yes,” he explained. “I say — by far — we have way more talent than my UConn team that freshman year. But we had heart. We didn’t listen to what people would say about us, and stuff like that. We just focused on doing the little things to win the game, like rebounding and boxing out. Being in the gap on defense. Making the extra rotation. You know, the little things to win.”
Check out the video above to see some of what PSU coach Pat Chambers had to say about Samuel and then our one-on-one interview with the Brooklyn native.
How did Samuel wind up at Penn State? What role does he see himself playing for the Nittany Lions? How much of a learning experience was last season?
We discuss all of that and more.null