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Villanova Basketball 2020-21 player preview: Jermaine Samuels

Senior captain looks to find consistency and reach his potential in his final year with the Wildcats

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Seton Hall Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Jermaine Samuels’ Career Stats

2017-18 25 0 6.1 0.3-1.1 25 0.1-0.6 18.8 0.4-0.6 62.5 0.3 0.9 1.2 0.3 0.1 0 0.9 0.5 1.1
2018-19 35 22 22 2.1-4.7 44.8 0.9-2.7 34.7 1.3-2.1 62.2 1.7 3.7 5.4 1 0.8 0.4 1.9 1 6.4
2019-20 30 30 30.3 3.6-7.8 46.4 1.1-3.9 27.6 2.4-3.3 72.7 1.3 4.2 5.5 2 0.7 0.9 2.1 1.3 10.7

Jermaine Samuels

Hometown: Franklin, Mass.
High School: The Rivers School
Height: 6-7
Weight: 230 lbs

Player Preview

Jermaine Samuels arrived on campus in the fall of 2017 as a decorated recruit. Injuries and inexperience kept him to just a fringe role on the 2017-18 national championship team, but he has solidified himself as a regular starter over the past two seasons. The preseason Julius Erving Award nominee is hoping to bookend his career with another national championship.

A glance at Samuels’ stats would indicate a player who has improved steadily over his career. He has seen his points, minutes, assists, rebounds, and steals per game increase each of the last two seasons. But those who have watched enough Villanova basketball knows that his maturation has been anything but steady.

Let’s start with the positives. Jermaine plays his tail off. He’s incredibly engaged defensively and rebounds very well for his size. He’s versatile enough to be a key piece to Villanova’s switching man-to-man defense. In a sport without a lot of seniors, having a role player like Jermaine Samuels is a treat for Jay Wright.

Without ever having developed elite playmaking skills, he has never been asked to be one of the primary creators for Villanova’s offense, with his usage rate never being higher than 5th on the team. With several potential All-Americans still on the roster, he will likely continue to be used as a screener and as a weak side spacer/cutter.

How successful he will be in that role will depend on whether he can improve on his consistency as a three-point shooter and whether he’s been able to add any explosiveness to his footwork. It’s important to realize that those two factors are interrelated. There have been stretches in his career where he has found his stroke from the outside, which has led to some close-outs that he is able to dribble past without a quick first step.

However, in 2019-20, he mostly struggled, finishing just 28% from deep. Without getting defenders to close out on him, and without an effective first step, it becomes difficult for Samuels to consistently contribute.

However, there were some positive developments late last season that are worth monitoring early on this season. There’s no better illustration than what turned out to be the final play of the 2019-2020 season, which you’ll see below:

First, Samuels became a willing shooter and attacker last season. Despite dreadful overall numbers, he never stopped being aggressive, even in the biggest moments. In addition to game-clinching threes against Connecticut and Kansas, this and-one clinched a share of the Big East title.

The second thing to look at here is how Samuels got to the rim. His first dribble doesn’t come close to getting his shoulders by the defender. But instead of panicking like he did early in his career, Samuels stays patient and uses his strength to bully the defender underneath the basket and then gets a shot up around him. Jermaine did this quite a bit during the second half of the season and I think it may have been a huge breakthrough for him, since he has continued to add weight and will continue to draw some of the weaker opponent defenders.

Best Case Scenario: Samuels continues to be a willing shooter and finds a rhythm to the tune of a mid-30s percentage. He uses the ten pounds he put on in the offseason to bully defenders at the rim and helps to fill the defensive stopper role that Saddiq Bey has left open. If we’re getting greedy, he also becomes a valuable part time offensive initiator by posting up mismatches, and even starts to get some NBA draft whispers thanks to the litany of overachieving Villanova wings in the league that have preceded him.

Worst Case Scenario: Samuels can’t find his shooting stroke and loses confidence to the point that defenders are consistently able to help off of him to clog the lane for Gillespie, Moore, and Robinson-Earl. He gives his best effort to step into Bey’s shoes as the defensive stopper but his lack of lateral quickness gets him into a lot of foul trouble. Eventually, his minutes slightly decline as Jay Wright extends minutes for Brandon Slater in that role.

The Wisdom of the Crowds


How many points per game will Jermaine Samuels average this season?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    7.0 or fewer
    (13 votes)
  • 27%
    (144 votes)
  • 57%
    (303 votes)
  • 12%
    13.0 or more
    (67 votes)
527 votes total Vote Now