Samardo Samuels shoots for success

Samardo Samuels shoots for success

Written by Editor

Topics: Basketball, Sports

Samardo Samuels

Samardo Samuels

He was supposed to be the among the group of formidable players at the core of Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals for the next two years, and also a part of the Jamaican national basketball team embarking on an ambitious bid to gain a berth in the London Olympics in 2012.

However, the path that was seemingly ordained for 21-year-old native of Trelawny, Jamaica would not be the one walked by him. In a move that blindsided basketball insiders (Coach Pitino included), the 6-foot-9 Samuels served up a surprise in April by announcing that he would enter the 2010 NBA Draft.

As talented as he is, the general feeling was that Samuels was not the finished article. Pitino publicly commented that the budding star still had a lot to improve on, particularly his rebounding. Scouting reports questioned his ability to play strong around the basket, and while he had straddled the worlds of centre and power forward in the college game, when compared to NBA big men he would be viewed as undersized. As the speculation grew, pundits and draft watchers placed him in the dreaded late second round to undrafted category.

Samuels would have undoubtedly heard all the naysayers, but he still opted to walk down a path of his own choosing. What was the key factor driving his decision? It soon emerged in press interviews that Samardo’s concern for the social and economic well-being for his family in Jamaica led him to make the decision to go pro. He had the support of the Jamaica Basketball Association (JaBA), eventually won Pitino’s support and tried out with several teams. Draft day on June 24 proved to be less than kind – 60 names were called for selection by NBA teams and Samuels was not among them.

Names like Ben Wallace, Bo Outlaw, Jose Calderon, Bruce Bowen, Udonis Haslem and John Starks should serve as inspiration for Samuels. They clawed their way out of the abyss of the undrafted and managed to make an impact in the NBA. A spot on the Chicago Bulls’ summer roster might just be the first step towards the light for the former national USA Today Player of the Year.

While he shows his skills with the Bulls’ in the summer league in Las Vegas (July 9 – 18), the Jamaican national team will be without his services for the Centrobasket Tournament, which runs from July 5 – 11 at the Palacio de los Deportes Virgilio Travieso Soto in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Jamaica will also be without centre Jerome Jordan (Tulsa University), who also entered the 2010 draft and will join the New York Knicks via Milwaukee Bucks. Indiana Pacers centre Roy Hibbert represents a welcomed addition to the team.

The 2010 Centrobasket Championship qualifies the top four teams for the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship (Pre-Olympic), the top eight for the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico and the top three for the 2011 Pan-American Games scheduled for Guadalajara, Mexico.

Samardo Samuels

Samardo Samuels working out with Jamaican National Team

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