UConn commitment Kentan Facey may be a relative newcomer to basketball with unlimited upside, but the other player in his class, guard Terrence Samuel has a slightly different story. Samuel, who grew up in Brooklyn, has been playing basketball his whole life. But he also had aspirations for a football career. That changed, in part, when he started following Kemba Walker's career at UConn.
And similar to Walker, Samuel wasn't a highly touted point guard during the recruiting process but Kevin Ollie loves what Samuel brings to the table.
"Terrence is going to be a solid guard for us," Ollie said last week. "He's a big guard, 6 feet 3 and 200 pounds and chiseled as a rock. He makes people around him better. He's a great passer, great vision, getting people open shots. And he's got a great smile, great enthusiasm about the game. He's not going to be a guy who comes in here and dazzles you — one and done, he's not that. But kind of like me, he'll just matriculate his way through the system and continue to get better. I think the sky's the limit for the kid, because he works exceptionally hard."
The Hartford Courant's Dom Amore traveled to New York City to watch Facey and Samuel play and last weekend Samuel scored 38 points in two games, and took home MVP honors in the Big Apple Basketball Invitational.
"It takes a certain kind of person," Ollie said via Amore. "Loyalty, integrity, to stay in his neighborhood and try to build something up. ... He's done a wonderful job, changing from maybe a borderline of being a bad student to now being a very good student. That shows you what kind of person he is, he has drive and he has purpose now as a young man living in this world. He knows who he is as a person, and how he's going to accomplish those goals. He's going to be a great person for the style of play and what we're trying to create here, a great person we want to help build this brand."
Samuel might be UConn's biggest fan. He watches every game he can, paying particular attention to guard Shabazz Napier, whom he met in August.
He shook my hand and said, 'UConn is the greatest school in the world,' but I already knew that," Samuel told Amore. "I've got big shoes to fill. I see myself being kind of like Shabazz Napier, but I've got to improve my jump shot."
Samuel also speaks to Ollie often.
"He tells me what he wants me to bring to the table at UConn," he said via Amore. "He wants me to keep my teammates involved, and to work hard every day. 'While you're sleeping, someone else is working.'"