With the addition of Terrence Samuel's transfer to Penn State, we decided to get a better sense of who he is as a player. We're introducing a two-part series on Terrence, exploring how he can make an impact on the team.
Let's start witht he obvious question first: What happened? Why did Samuel decide to leave when it appeared he was starting to have a bigger role on the program?
It was looking like Samuel might get more playing time, but the addition of Seton Hall graduate transfer Sterling Gibbs and eminent arrival of Jalen Adams spelled trouble for his chances. UConn has been going after guards heavily in the recruiting cycle. Samuel must have seen himself as the odd-man out, especially with experienced and talented guards Rodney Purvis and Omar Calhoun also on the roster.
What kind of impact will his departure have on Uconn, especially since UConn is poised to make another tournament run this upcoming season?
As a freshman, Samuel was an invaluable piece of the 2014 championship team off the bench. Fans liked his tenacity attacking the rim and defensive intensity. Against Villanova game in the Round of 32, Shabazz Napier had to sit with about 10 minutes left in the first half with the Huskies down double-digits. Samuel stepped in and gave UConn the spark it needed to stay in the game.
Unfortunately, he took a step back as a sophomore. His inability to shoot precluded him from being a major factor even with increased playing time. Across the 12-games from the home stretch of the regular season through the AAC Tournament, Samuel failed to score more than 4 points despite logging decent minutes. His departure from UConn is disappointing for those who saw Samuel as a high-character, high-effort player who would give us four solid years. But ultimately the team should not be missing a beat with the new additions.
Likewise, what kind of impact could he make at Penn State?
I think he has great potential to be a contributor for Penn State. He'll need to be surrounded with good shooters to work as a point guard, or could potentially serve as an effective off-guard with a point guard who can shoot.
A lot of Penn State fans compare our own transfer, Geno Thorpe, to Samuel. Thorpe's offensive game was a work in progress, but even though he didn't normally create offense for himself, he was a defensive spark plug that ignited the offense by causing some quick turnovers whenever he was in. Is this comparison accurate?
I'm not very familiar with Geno Thorpe but that comparison sounds pretty accurate. Although, Samuel is a good passer so it's not fully accurate to say he doesn't create offense. He can create points by driving to the rim, but like I said his offensive arsenal is limited by his current inability to shoot. From what I saw he seemed to get along well with his teammates, and never had any character issues or transgressions.
Last, but not least, one statistic that sticks out like a sore thumb is his 0 - 17 3-point shots. His increased playing time in year 2 would logically yield to some of his numbers to drop, but is there any context to explain such a glaring weakness?
He either completely lost his confidence as a shooter or never had much shooting ability to begin with. I'm sure coaches can work with him to become a good enough shooter to be more of a factor. It should be his top off-season priority.
Many thanks to Aman for answering our questions. Be sure to follow The UConn Blog on twitter, @TheUConnBlog, and stay tuned for part two of our series coming next week.