Louisville signee and St. Benedict's Prep (NJ) standout Samardo Samuels has been named the 2008 national Player of the Year by USA Today.
SAMARDO SAMUELS, 6-9 forward, St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.)
Just the facts: Was New Jersey's Gatorade Player of the Year. He was MVP of three big-time tournaments this season, the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla., the Bojangles' Shootout in Charlotte and the Nike Super Six in New York. He averaged 24.2 points and 10.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots a game for the season.
A mistake I've learned from: "Coach (Dan) Hurley was a lot harder on me this year than he was last year. He wanted to make sure that I was ready to go to Louisville. ... There were times when I talked back to my coach, and you never win by doing that."
What I need to work on: "I need to make quicker decisions on my moves. Sometimes I wait a little too much instead of going ahead and making the move."
Favorite teacher: "This year my favorite class was the Civil War with Mr. (Mike) McCree. We have some conversations. He's very personable. Also, my math teacher, Mr. (Tony) Frey, makes sure you understand the subject."
My biggest influence: "Has been my mom and my dad. They worked hard to make sure me, my sister and my brother got everything we needed. My dad owns a taxi company."
My first dunk: "I was 13 and back home in Jamaica and it happened on a fast break. It was pretty hard, with two hands, but my eyes were closed."
Best book I've read this year: "Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary by Walter Dean Myers."
Favorite musician: Jay-Z.
My playground legend: "A guy named O'Neal. He was my height, he was like 6-8. He was a man on the court. I learned from him."
Favorite NBA player: "When I first started playing basketball, they told me to watch a lot of Tim Duncan. He's a big reason for my improvement."
Samuels was joined on the All-USA first team by fellow seniors Jrue Holiday (UCLA), Brandon Jennings (Arizona), B.J. Mullens (Ohio State) and junior Lance Stephenson (Undecided).
University Heights superstar and future Tennessee Volunteer Scotty Hopson was named to the third team, as was Georgetown signee Greg Monroe. Tyreke Evans (Memphis) and Mike Rosario (Rutgers) were notable members of the second team.
Congratulations to Samardo on this latest honor, and can't wait to see you in red and white...and sometimes black...but probably not that often...it was actually sort of becoming like our normal road uniform color, but we didn't play very well when we wore it this year, so the future of the black jersey is really up in the air at this point.
Just thought you should know everything about the situation you're walking into.