In the final seconds of a back-and-forth game, Whitfield knew the Brooklyn South Shore guard would have the ball in his hands.
Yet despite the warning, they still couldn’t stop Samuel as he drove through the defense for the eventual game-winning layup as South Shore beat Princeton Day, 64-63, at the Big Apple Basketball Invitational at Baruch College.
“We were prepared for it,” Whitfield said. “We knew it was going to be [Samuel]…And we said do not let anyone get behind you. We let their best player get behind us. He made his play, that’s what good players do.”
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Samuel finished with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting to go with five assists, four rebounds, four steals and just one turnover en route to MVP honors.
“It’s a big game,” the UConn signee told SNY.tv after the win.
“Coming into this game we were the underdog. Nobody expected us to win, so I’m just happy we got the ‘W,’ especially on the game-winning shot.”
Towson commit Shamiek Sheppard added 14 points in the win.
Aquille Carr, the 5-6 Seton Hall commit, had 20 points on 5-of-22 shooting in the loss, but said he’s been bothered by the flu and a bruised hand.
Next year, Samuel and Carr will go head-to-head in the Big East.
“That’s big,” Samuel said. “We had a couple little conversations in the game. Just trash talk. I told him I’m going to see him next year. He didn’t shake our hands, but it’s alright.”
Said Carr of Samuel: “He can drive a lot, he attacks the basket. He finds his players on his team. He’s a great player and he finished the game. He took the game over and made that nice layup and won the game.”
Samuel is a point guard but he played off the ball a little in this game. He has a strong frame and showed a willingness to attack the basket, but also played under control.
“He’s a team player, first and foremost, he’ll do whatever it takes to win,” South Shore coach Michael Beckles told SNY.tv. “He’s versatile. He can score, he can pass, he can shoot, very unselfish. He’s a team guy and whatever he needs to do he will make the adjustment to get the job done.”
Samuel and Long Island Lutheran forward Kentan Facey are part of UConn coach Kevin Ollie’s 2013 recruiting class. Lutheran plays here Monday.
“[Facey] is my man,” Samuel said. “We played on AAU the last two years. We’re excited to go there together, can’t wait.”
Samuel said he’s also been in touch with UConn’s latest commit, Florida big man Amida Brimah.
“We had a couple direct messages and conversations on Twitter,” Samuel said.
“Him and Kentan together, shot-blocking, that’s outstanding. So that makes me even more excited to go out there.”
Samuel committed to UConn before Ollie received his five-year extension because he felt a bond with the coach.
“I was relaxed from the jump because I knew he was going to get the deal,” he said. “I committed before he got the five-year because everybody loves him up there so I knew he was bound to get it.”
Samuel said the extension will help Ollie recruit, and he personally is working on landing fellow New Yorkers from the Class of 2014.
“Khadeen Carrington [of Bishop Loughlin], he’s my man,” Samuel said. “Like my little brother. I think he’s going to commit very soon. Hopefully, we’ll see.”
(Photo: Siri Larkins, Big Apple Basketball)