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Samardo Samuels speaks sensibly

Landing a prep All-American is generally a mixed bag in today's me-first society, but Louisville appears to have found the best of both worlds with USA Today National Player of the Year Samardo Samuels, who spoke with The Jamaica Observer over the weekend.

"This is where I want to be. Growing up in Jamaica I had dreams of going to university and I have the opportunity now to go to a four-year university, and that means a lot."

The player who was rated the top centre among the 2008 high school graduating class, was hesitant to discuss his future past the next four years as he says getting a degree is the priority, but does not rule out any possibility.

"Well I intend to stay all four years, but if the opportunity comes up I will take it of course for my family, but whatever happens I can always get my degree.

"The good thing is you can always go back to get the degree even if you leave and go to the NBA early... my options are wide open," he argued.

While it's easy to take the "I intend to stay all four years" statement and latch onto it, I think what he says afterward is even more refreshing. Samuels is coming into this experience with the mindset that he's going to be here for four years, but has no qualms about admitting that he'll leave if he plays himself into a position where he's poised to make pop star money.

As fans, we selfishly want all of our players to talk about how much they love college and how they're going to stay until David Stern drags them out of their luxury dorm. Recently, however, there have been more and more cases of players speaking openly about their intentions to stay in school for multiple seasons (Donte Greene), and then facing an ugly fan backlash when they don't live up to their word.

The fact that a teenager entering college with so much hype can have such a realistic handle on his situation bodes very well for the immediate future of U of L basketball.

Samuels also spoke about Rick Pitino and his team expectations at Louisville.

Samuels, who was a high school All-American at St Benedicts in New Jersey, said his immediate goal was to make Louisville a better team and to win the NCAA title.

"All the teams I go to all win and I hope I can take this to Louisville as well and go all the way to winning the NCAA championships," he confirmed.

He was full of praise for coach Pitino, whom he described as "the best coach in the whole United States," adding, "I am going to try to learn as much as I can".


"The big guys are leaving and that gives me a good opportunity to come in and start right away, but I'm not looking at it like that, saying because I am an All-American I have to start... my attitude is that I have to work hard like any other freshman that's coming in and we've gotta earn our spot on the team," he said.

He also keeps in constant touch with Pitino.

"We talk all the time about different things. He advised me not to listen to the media; that you got to come in and be like Michael Jordan and try to win everything on your own. We have other good players and you will get the chance to be yourself and no reason to put pressure on yourself."

I'm now spending my days pacing in front of Freedom Hall a la Eric Cartman when he was waiting for the Nintendo Wii to come out. Freezing myself is seeming less and less absurd every day.