There is a new number one in New England’s 2017 class as Jermaine Samuels is now the top ranked sophomore in the region. The move comes less than a month after the Rivers School (MA) product climbed national rankings, finishing 20th overall in the ESPN 25.
While Samuels’ is now just one year into his high school basketball career, he’s done nothing but prove himself since arriving on this stage.
He had a terrific freshman campaign last winter at Rivers, not only putting up huge individual scoring numbers on an otherwise veteran laden team but also playing a big part in the team’s collective success as they went 21-4, capturing the ISL basketball championship in the process and ultimately advancing to the semi-finals of the NEPSAC Class B Tournament.
It was more of the same on the AAU circuit as Samuels began the spring by standing out with Expressions Elite’s sixteen-and-under team, ultimately playing his way onto the EYBL roster and earning an invitation to the Nike Elite One Hundred in St. Louis where he distinguished himself against the top underclassmen the nation has to offer.
Samuels recently discussed that experience, among others things, with CoxHub and NERR-TV.
As an underclassmen though, earning the number one ranking, especially in a class as deep and talented as New England’s 2017 group, is about proving both production and potential.
What stands out about Samuels isn’t just the fact that he has been arguably New England’s most impactful player in the 2017 class, but also that he has plenty of potential still left to discover.
While he might not yet be quite all of the six-foot-six that he is sometimes listed at, he might not be done growing just yet either. Athletically, he’s become both more explosive and fluid, not only playing above the rim on both ends of the floor but also showing the body type and lateral athleticism to develop into a full time perimeter player.
He’s also shown consistent strides in his skill set. Whereas last year his best offense was typically inside of 10 feet, he’s gradually becoming more of a threat to make plays with the ball in his hands and score the ball from various spots on the floor.
All in all, he has all the markers of a high-level wing prospect and while his recruitment has thus far been limited to local high-level programs like Connecticut, Providence, Boston College, Rhode Island, and Harvard among others, there’s no denying that this is just the tip of the recruiting iceberg.
The challenge for Samuels now becomes defending his newfound title as there are no shortage of potential high-major prospects in New England’s 2017 class, the most notable of which is Northfield Mount Hermon forward Tomas Murphy, who also holds a spot in the ESPN 25.
Thus far though, the newfound X on Samuels’ back has done nothing to affect the quality of his play. Just the opposite, he turned in his latest starring performance at the recent Elite 75 Showcase – Frosh/Soph Edition only days after his new national ranking was announced.