Kansas State forward Jamar Samuels was expected to take a big step forward as a sophomore after an intriguing freshman season. Though there were certainly bright spots along the way and his contributions on both sides of the ball were invaluable to Kansas State's Final Four run, Samuels's development was not as rapid as expected and left quite a few questions unanswered. Athletic and scrappy 6'7 combo-forwards have been able to carve a niche in the NBA, however, and given Samuels's potential, there is much to look forward to from a scouting perspective next season.
Samuels once again excelled at scoring around the basket, either after rebounding his teammates' missed shots or by driving aggressively into the paint. His limited ball handling abilities continue to hinder his slashing abilities, but his size, strength, and athleticism suggest that he could develop into a proficient slasher with continued improvement in this area. He is also quick in the open floor, which, along with his explosiveness, allows him to finish well in transition.
While he likely lacks the size to score in the NBA post and his touch around the basket is suspect, his aggressive attitude, excellent length, and nose for the ball help him overcome his below-average skill level at the collegiate level and is an asset at any level. He does a great job of drawing contact, as well, which is evident in his 9.2 free throw attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted. He should, however, look to improve upon his subpar 56.3% FT.
Though Samuels showed very little ability operating from mid-range, he improved considerably as a spot-up shooter last season and converted 37.3% of his attempts. Though 51 shots attempts like a small sample size, it is a significant increase from the seven shots that he attempted as a freshman. Samuels is a streaky shooter at this point and is far better when he has time to set his feet, but he showed a high release point and a far more fluid shooting motion than he did as a freshman.
On the defensive end, Samuels once again played with energy and aggressiveness, utilizing his length and athleticism to harass his man in the paint and on the perimeter. Samuels does not have elite lateral quickness, but he has solid awareness and good anticipation abilities, which allow him to defend against quicker and smaller players. At this point, it is essential that he prove to scouts that he can consistently guard multiple positions, particularly on the perimeter, as his defense at times last season was stellar.
It is clear that Samuels has NBA potential and, at times last season, skills that will translate favorably to the next level. At this point, however, he must prove that he can play a role at the next level, primarily as a versatile defensive specialist and a spot-up scorer similar to James Singleton. After all, Samuels is a prospect for his energy level, athleticism, and defensive abilities and it is more important that he excels in these areas than to focus on expanding his scoring abilities from the perimeter and mid-range. Consistency is the key, however, and as Samuels prepares for his junior season at Kansas State, scouts will be watching to see whether or not flashes of potential can finally coalesce into dominance at the collegiate level.