As Florida looks to retool their frontcourt for the 2023-24 season it looks like they may be closing in on another commitment–this time from Seton Hall center Tyrese Samuel.
Samuel is a 6’10”, 235-pound traditional big man that just finished his fourth season with the Pirates, meaning he’ll have one more year to play. During his career there has been a steady increase in minutes, role, and production, going from an 11 minute per game reserve as a freshman to an every game starter as a senior.
Last season, Samuel averaged 11.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks.
Here is where Samuel differs from many of the players that Florida has contacted. When you look at most of the Gators’ targets, they are younger players at lower leagues who have shown high upside and multiple years to play. Samuel, on the other hand, is just about the opposite. He plays in an excellent Big East where there are loads of big, physical, and talented post players and he has proven he can hang. With a mid-major transfer teams are hoping for a big leap, but Samuel is more of a ready-made product that you know exactly what you’re going to get.
It was reported that Samuel was down to two schools–Florida, and Wake Forest.
When it comes to offense Samuel is a traditional center in nearly every sense of the term. A lion’s share of his offensive possessions come on the low block where he uses his muscular frame to gain position before relying on his quickness and finesse to finish with hook shots over both shoulders. There isn’t a ton of flash or deception to his game–he knows his strengths and plays to them knowing that if he executes there isn’t anything a defender is going to be able to do.
Where Samuel might be most dangerous is in the pick and roll game. He sets massive screens with intelligent angles that gives his ball handler an advantage before exploding towards the rim where he’s an above the rim target to finish dunks. Last season Samuel had 42 dunks, so you know he’s looking to punch the ball with authority with any opportunity he’s given.
The defensive side of things is where Samuel is at his best. At 6’10” and 235 he’s got the size to bang down low with opposing centers who try to post him up, but he’s mobile enough to switch out onto guards. Finding centers with size and mobility is the name of the game in 2023 and you can see why a defensive minded coach like Todd Golden sees immense value in the play of Samuel.
Throughout his career Samuel’s shot blocking numbers are curiously lower than you’d expect for someone of his size and athleticism, though the raw blocked shot totals don’t tell the whole story of his ability to defend in the paint. When contested by Samuel at the rim opponents shot only 47%, well below the national average, so Samuel has proven he can protect the rim by walling up even though he didn’t come away with a lot of blocks.
There are going to be players in the portal that command more attention than Samuel as coaches, media, and fans love the “mystery box” nature of mid-major transfers with upside that put up big numbers at lower levels. However, the fact of the matter is that for most mid-major transfers–moving up to a power conference and scoring 11 points and 6 rebounds would be an incredible feat. More mid-major transfers fall short of expectations than meet or exceed them, and banking on proven power conference commodities could be a very wise choice for whoever ends up landing Samuel. The Big East was a better league than the SEC in any metric you want to look at, and Samuel’s proven ability in that league suggests he could slide into the SEC and instantly be a solid starter.
With Samuel down to two schools he is expected to make his decision soon, which could have an impact on another center the Gators are currently recruiting in Micah Handlogten. The Gators would love to land both Samuel and Handlogten–and it’s even possible that Golden would play the two centers together as he liked to do at San Francisco.