Two of the most hyped and highest profile big men in Pitino's tenure at Louisville had very different outcomes at the college level; Samuels kinda-sorta worked out, while Caracter certainly did not. But it was Caracter who ended up getting a nod from NBA champions LA Lakers late in the 2nd round while Samuels sat on the outside looking in. If you had told me two years ago that this would be the outcome, I would have said you were crazy. If you had told me two months ago, I would have given you a "Well... duh" look. If you had told me two days ago, I would have been absolutely confused.
Like most Louisville fans, I was incredibly disappointed with Samuels' performance in a Cardinal uniform. There's no doubt that he had a solid contribution to the team and was a large part of the reason the team even made it to the tournament this year; but his talent level and, worse, his effort level, was hyped to be far more than it ended up being (which was slightly higher than that of a Jamaican bobsled team). At times brilliant, at times lethargic, there were only two things you could always count on from Samardo: 1) he would somehow get a wide-open dunk at some point, and 2) he would give up more rebounds in a half than Pervis Ellison would in an entire game. With a broken arm. Blindfolded.
Despite that, it seemed in recent months that Samardo had found some sort of niche within the NBA community. Word was constantly flowing from NBA draft analysts and "insiders" that scouts were becoming more and more impressed with his game, and as of early this week, he had inexplicably skyrocketed from a fringe late second round pick (or undrafted) to a potential mid first rounder. Despite his lackluster performance here in the River City, I was hoping I would see him represent the Cardinals as a first round pick for the second straight year and hopefully earn the money that his family seems to need. Unfortunately, one pick after another came and went, and after 60 other players had heard their names called, Samuels was nowhere to be seen.
Honestly, I'm a little surprised. Besides all the chatter of his sudden rise in draft stock, it's hard to look at the draft list and think that he couldn't find a spot on a roster ahead of some of these other guys. Tibor Pleiss? Paulo Prestes? Pape Sy? I understand Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki have worked out well, but there are guys on here being picked up in the first round that have never played a game against anybody with NBA-level talent. I mean, Chicago took a French guy named Kevin Seraphin with the 17th pick (much to the chagrin of Chicago fans, who immediately booed and began chanting "USA! USA!"). You're telling me that you would rather have these guys on your roster than Samardo Samuels, who spent two years averaging 15+ ppg in the Big East against guys like Greg Monroe, Dejuan Blair, Luke Harangody, and Hamady N'diaye, all of whom were drafted? Seems like somebody dropped the ball on reporting that NBA scouts were "warming up" to Samardo's style.
Oh well, best of luck to Samardo wherever he ends up. Shame it had to end this way, though.