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Villanova Basketball 2021-22 player preview: Jermaine Samuels

A Nova Nation favorite returns for Year 5.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Winthrop at Villanova Aaron Doster-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
2020-21 25 24 29.3 4.0-8.2 48.1 1.0-2.8 37.1 3.1-3.7 82.8 1.8 4.6 6.4 2.5 0.3 0.6 2.3 1.1 12

Jermaine Samuels

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

Jermaine Samuels player preview:

Back in May, I got in my feels a little bit when I wrote Jermaine’s 2020-21 player recap.

I’ll try not to repeat everything from that story, but I do want to remind you of his post-game quote after Villanova’s sweet 16 loss to Baylor:

“I thought I came in knowing that I knew basketball and everything about it, and I realized I didn’t right away. Coach Wright was patient with me every step of the way. I had guys that are older that showed me the way, kept in contact, and kept encouraging me. My teammates gave me confidence. It wasn’t easy at all. It wasn’t a smooth ride. I could’ve given up plenty of times, but the resiliency and this culture alone kept me going. The guys in this locker room kept me going. There’s so much I could say, honestly, but I’m just grateful to have this jersey on my back.”

That quote encapsulates why it was no surprise that Samuels chose to return for a bonus fifth year and encapsulates why Nova Nation welcomed him back with open arms. The epitome of Villanova’s “attitude” culture, Samuels has battled through injuries, illnesses, and lengthy shooting slumps during his first four years. It all paid off with a true breakthrough year last season, as he finished with the highest individual offensive rating in the entire Big East. He particularly impressed down the stretch, averaging 14.4 points per game with a 63.3% true shooting percentage over the final 16 games.

And yet, reading the regional and national preseason features, it seems as if no one really noticed. CBS Sports ranked Samuels just the 83rd best player in the country this season. He was not voted onto the preseason All-Big East first team. It just doesn’t add up to me.

Best Case Scenario: If Samuels picks up where he left off, he’s going to be in the conversation for conference player of the year. When guarded by smaller players, he has proven the ability to punish them in the post. When guarded by bigger players, his improved 3 point shot has allowed him to attack closeouts and get downhill to the rim in a hurry.

In his 5th year, he’ll become the new defensive anchor, with the ability to guard on the perimeter while also rebounding and providing some rim protection.

It may not always be pretty, but if Samuels continues to shoot the ball, he’s going to be in contention to lead the team in both scoring and rebounding, and will make his 2nd team all big east preseason selection look silly. Of course, we all know that Samuels doesn’t care about any of that. No matter the accolades, Samuels eyes are only set on taking this team all the way to New Orleans in April.

Worst Case Scenario: Barring injury, the floor for Samuels’ season is pretty high. It’s entirely possible that his hot shooting from the end of last year does not carry over, and the rest of his offensive game will suffer as a result. But given how many shooting slumps he’s had in his career, he will always find a way to be productive.

The true worst case scenario for Samuels likely is just a product of his frontcourt teammates. If Eric Dixon, Nnanna Njoku, and Trey Patterson are not able to handle big minutes at the 5, Samuels will be forced to play the 5 in a lot of small lineups and could eventually get worn down by the Nate Watsons and Zach Freemantles of the world, battling through fatigue and foul trouble all year.