With the loss of Jacob Pullen and others, Kansas State will be looking for increased production from multiple people this year. Jamar Samuels is one player for K-State who must step up his game in 2011-2012.
Way back in the year 2007, the Kansas State Wildcats remarkably had the number one or two ranked recruiting class in the country in basketball depending on which recruiting service you follow. As everyone can recall this was mostly based upon landing the top player in the class in Michael Beasley and Bill Walker also counted in this class even though he had briefly played the season before.
That group of players featured not only Beasley & Walker but a four star ranked Dominique Sutton who played and mostly started for three years in Manhattan before transferring. Included along with Beasley, Walker & Sutton were a slew of three star ranked players, one of which was Jacob Pullen who turned out to be the all time leading scorer in Kansas State basketball history.
That whole entire class has now left Manhattan via either the NBA Draft, transferring or graduation with the exception of one of those three star recruits player. That player is Jamar Samuels who was a member of that recruiting class although he redshirted his first year in Manhattan due to joining the team late due to some academic issues.
Now a senior this will be a make or break year for the 6'7" Samuels and his memory as a Kansas State Wildcat. At the moment he is known more as a player with good athleticism who can play extremely well at times but be a non-factor at other times.
This is not to sound like Samuels has been a slouch during his time at K-State as he has definitely had his moments. In his sophomore season he was named the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year after averaging 11 points and 4.9 rebounds a game.
That same season he dominated in the Big 12 Tournament against Oklahoma State as he scored 27 points and looked like the best player on the court. Unfortunately for Samuels one statistic that he also set that season was the K-State single season personal foul record as he racked up 113 of them.
Many expected Samuels to elevate his game entering his junior year last season where he was expected to be a fine complementary piece to the Pullen led squad. It simply never happened though as he finished the year averaging only 8.5 points a game while shooting a horrid 9-39 from behind the arc. He scored in double figures in only 12 of 32 contests on the year. Many times he simply looked frustrated on the court and that frustration would result in him committing horrendously ill-advised fouls and a subsequent scowl from head coach Frank Martin.
Now according to reports Samuels has added weight during the offseason to help him battle down around the basket. K-State better hope the added bulk accomplishes this as the Wildcats look to be thin, literally, on the inside as Samuels will team up in the post with 6'11" Jordan Henriquz-Roberts who is generously listed at 250 pounds.
Frank Martin and his staff will not only be counting on Samuels for production on the court but leadership off the court as well. He is the only scholarship senior on the Wildcats roster so it will be important for him to help lead the new freshman and junior college recruits on the team.
If Samuels turns in another so-so season then not only would it be disappointing for the team's prospects this year but some blame might have to be dealt out as well. Would the lack of development be more at the feet of Samuels himself or would the coaching staff need to be evaluated very closely to see why he could never reach his supposed full potential.
Hopefully for Wildcat fans the extra work that Samuels has put in leads to consistent and strong efforts throughout the season. As for Samuels whether it's fair or not his performance this season will likely be the most influential in fans mind about his entire career at K-State.