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Villanova Basketball 2019 Player Recap: Jermaine Samuels

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Big. Game. Jermaine.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round- Villanova vs Saint Mary’s David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Jermaine Samuels had an up-and down freshman year after being more highly touted than fellow members of his class Collin Gillespie and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree out of high school. While the Weston, Massachusetts native showed flashes of defensive brilliance and scored 11 points on only three shots in an early matchup against DePaul, he missed the next ten games with a broken hand and was never able to get back into rhythm. With the departure of Mikal Bridges. Samuels was expected to have a bigger role as a sophomore than he did as a freshman, but no one could quite predict the amount of playing time Samuels would receive, and just how much he would run with it.

Meet or Exceed Expectations?

In our player preview from October, our best case scenario had Samuels averaging about 15 minutes a game, with more coming if injuries plagued the team. Villanova stayed pretty healthy this year, but Samuels grabbed more playing time regardless, averaging 22 minutes per game and ending with a statline of 6.4-5.4-1.0-0.4-0.8. Samuels at times looked hesitant to shoot the ball early in the season, often deferring to Booth, Paschall, and Gillespie despite having wide open looks, but everything changed when Villanova played Marquette on Senior Night. Samuels took advantage of Marquette’s gameplan to leave him open, draining five threes for a 29 point, 9 rebound masterclass against a top ten team. Beginning with that game, Samuels averaged just over 13 points per game and 7 rebounds for the rest of the season, a promising end to the season for a player assuming a leadership role next season for an incredibly young Wildcats squad. 41% of you predicted in October that Samuels would average fewer than 4 points per game, and his 6.4 season average means 36% of you hit the nail on the head.

However, even more impressive than his offensive production were his defensive contributions. In conference play, Samuels was often slotted in as an undersized five next to Eric Paschall and Saddiq Bey, and he was able to hold his own in protecting the rim as well as guarding larger defenders in the post, using his quickness and agility to prevent easy scoring underneath. His play helped to get opposing big men in foul trouble in matchups against Jessie Govan, Theo John, and Michael Nzei, and with another year of experience Samuels will be a two-way force to be reckoned with next year. Samuels may be transitioned full-time to the 5 next year, and his improved shooting touch late may allow Villanova to return to the five-out offense which led them to a title in 2018. Despite the looming presence of incoming five-star big man Jeremiah-Robinson Earl, the two’s complimentary styles of play likely means that even if Earl breaks out next year Samuels will still see heavy run.