Louisville commit Samardo Samuels backed up the claim of many experts that he is the best big man in the class of 2008 by giving an exceptional three-day performance at the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron.
The 6-9, 270-pound beast out of St. Benedicts Prep in Newark, N.J. (what up Cory Booker) scored a game-high 16-points as his team squeaked out a 39-38 win to capture the camp championship. Samuels hit the game-winning free-throw with four seconds remaining.
Ryan Canner-O'Mealy of RiseMag.com was in Akron all weekend and witnessed Samuels' performance in the title game firsthand.
The victory capped a fabulous day for the Louisville-bound rising senior. While most players in the title game looked exhausted from playing three games in a row, Samuels looked as fresh as he did in the opener, outhustling opponents to loose balls and dominating in the paint.
Throughout the camp, Samuels did battle with the nation's best big men, from Demarcus Cousins of Erwin (Birmingham, Ala.) to Ed Davis of Benedictine (Richmond, Va.) to John Riek of Our Savior New American (Centereach, N.Y.).
"It's great because those guys are considered to be great power forwards and matching up with them, you see where your talent is at," Samuels says.
When Samuels isn't on the summer circuit, however, he works out at home with NBA player and New Jersey native Al Harrington, so he isn't going to be intimidated by another high school player.
According to Rise, Samuels gave the second best overall performance at the camp, beating out Tyreke Evand and Greg Monroe among others. Rise was most impressed with USC commit Demar DeRozan out of Compton High where, according to his MySpace, he majored in "basketball" and minored in "rapper."
Saturday through Monday wasn't quite as smooth for the other U of L commit in Akron, Rice High point guard Lamont "MoMo" Jones.
The MoMo drama (it's going to be a while before I come to terms with the fact that I just typed that) began on Sunday when rumor spread that he was re-opening his recruitment because he'd heard that Rick Pitino was going after consensus top-20 point guard Kenny Boynton.
Jones changed his tone on Monday, when he spent the vast majority of the day denying that anything had changed.
"I thought about reopening it, but then I sat down with my parents and we decided that Louisville was still the best choice for me," Jones told the New York Post.
"He's Rick Pitino, so I don't want to give up on the chance of playing with probably the best coach in college basketball. I just made the decision myself. I'm getting older so I got to start making decisions on my own."
Pitino loves New York city point guards, but don't be surprised if something along these lines comes up again sometime between now and August 2009, especially if Louisville lands Boynton or another guard more highly thought of than Jones.
If having to tell droves of reporters the same answer to the same question all day wasn't bad enough, Jones never got the #6 jersey he'd been wearing all week back from the laundry, and was forced to wear a replacement #31 jersey on Monday.
"It's been the worst day," MoMo told Jody Demling.
Sure you're skeptical, but I for one don't doubt this statement one bit.
People who don't know me all that well might think that the worst day of my life was the day I lost all my toes and, in turn, the ability to walk normally, but they'd be horribly mistaken. My closest friends will all tell you that the worst day of my life was easily the day my mom forgot to wash my baseball jersey before a summer tournament game in Evansville, and the only other uniform available to wear was #31. Sure I hit threw a no-hitter and belted two home runs, but I felt like a fucking idiot the entire day. The next morning, still dripping with embarrassment, I cut off all my toes. It seemed like the appropriate response at the time.
As far as Tyreke Evans goes, Slam confirms the rumors that the reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.
All firsthand accounts of Evans' performances indicate that his game hasn't fallen off, but that he's more bored than the '06-'07 Florida Gators in February. It's an attribute that would frighten me if the coach of my favorite program weren't Rick Pitino. When Louisville signs a kid with a load of talent, you always know that he's either going to realize all that ability and become a star, or he's not going to play.
Evans can become a star and a man at Louisville, or he can listen to "Worldwide" Wes and do whatever the hell he wants at Memphis for a year. His call.