Back in 2007, Jamar Samuels had committed to Kansas State during the Spring signing period but didn’t make it to campus until he completed the academic requirements. Once he finally got on campus after the fall semester, Samuels was redshirted and sat out while he developed his game. He wasn’t on scholarship at first but earned his spot at the beginning of the 2008-09 season.
In his first game wearing K-State purple, the 6-7 hybrid forward had 11 points, five rebounds and three blocks while shooting 67-percent from the floor against Florida A&M. He continued that consistency by scoring in double-figures in his first four games as a redshirt freshman. He was, however, slowed down not by his inconsistencies, but by fouls. Samuels had four fouls against Oakland and played just 13 minutes. He then followed that game up by fouling out against Kentucky in 23 minutes. It was an interesting start to say the least, but Samuels also managed to finish out his redshirt freshman year with a bang. He had his first double-double during conference play against Iowa State, when he had 13 points while snagging 10 rebounds and two blocks on 57-percent shooting off the bench for Kansas State in a win.
Samuels also had a 17-point, six rebound and five assist game against Colorado. He ended up leading Kansas State in field-goal percentage during conference play, shooting 45-percent, was the team’s fourth leading scorer at 7.2 points a game, and was the team’s third-leading rebounder at 4.7. Overall, he ended the season averaging 8.3 points and 4.7 rebounds on 51-percent shooting from the field.
During his sophomore campaign, Samuels blossomed into a legitimate presence inside-and-out. Similar to his freshman year, Samuels started off scoring in double-figures in four of the first five games. But his best didn’t come until conference play. During conference play, Samuels averaged 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds on 54-percent shooting from the field. That included his brilliant 20-point and 12 rebound performance against then-No. 1 Texas to help shock the Longhorns and the basketball world. He was also key down the stretch against Baylor where he finished with just six points and eight rebounds, but rebounded the ball efficiently in the first half to help keep Kansas State in the game and fueled the Wildcats with his energy.
But his most impressive game had yet to come. Kansas State ended conference play 11-5 and had earned a bye in the Big 12 tournament. One player that showed up to play against Oklahoma State was the Washington D.C. native, Samuels. He finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds, connecting on 11-14 free-throws while shooting 78-percent from the field. He also contributed to K-State’s deepest NCAA Tournament run in decades. He was quiet three of four games due to foul trouble, but chipped in 14 points and five rebounds against Xavier in K-State’s historic shoot-out overtime victory. He would end his sophomore campaign as Big 12 Sixth-Man of the Year and was a vital part of the Wildcats’ success going forward.
He began his junior year on the bench again but finished the final 21 games as a starter. His production went down due in large part to Jacob Pullen taking command of the offense and taking the majority of the shots. Samuels still had games where he wowed fans, including the second game of the season against Virginia Tech where he had 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Also in Pullen’s absence (following his suspension for impermissible benefits) Samuels hung a team-high 26 points, five assists and four rebounds against North Florida. He had a similar outing against Texas Tech when he posted 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
With Pullen graduating, the offense was in Samuels’ hands and he took advantage plenty of times. His senior season was a success despite all the adversity surrounding him. Samuels started off the first two games from the sideline after being suspended for a violation of team rules. Once he returned, he elevated the Wildcats’ play. Samuels posted back-to-back double-doubles against George Washington (10 points, 10 rebounds) and Virginia Tech (17 points, 14 rebounds). His 11.6-point, 8.3 rebound average during the Diamond Head Classic helped K-State win the tournament.
He posted a season-high in points against Kansas with a 20-point, 12 rebound effort in the Wildcats’ defeat. In an upset against then-No. 10 Baylor in Waco, Samuels did everything, finishing with nine points, five rebounds, three assists and three blocks. He also had 17 points and 11 rebounds against Texas A&M and followed it up with a 17-point, 12 rebound game against Oklahoma State.
In his final game, Samuels had just one point against Southern Mississippi in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament, but also pulled down eight rebounds and dished out three assists. K-State did advance to play Syracuse, but Samuels was held out due to an eligibility issue that involved him receiving an impermissible benefit from his former AAU coach, Curtis Malone. Sources confirmed that Samuels received a wire transfer of $200 and was immediately suspended when the news reached K-State athletic director John Currie.
His career as a Wildcat ended with a one-point outing, but people in Manhattan won’t remember him for that. Samuels, as head coach Frank Martin said in a press conference following the loss to Syracuse, was the hardest worker on the team. He brought energy every time he hit the floor. It was never about him, he had fully bought into the team concept. He had the ability to start some of the games he didn’t end up starting, but he didn’t complain. He made his minutes count.
He came off the bench to earn Big 12 Sixth man of the Year accolades, was also Big 12 Player of the Week numerous times throughout his senior year, and was a Big 12 Honorable Mention athlete. He leaves Kansas State after scoring 1,259 points, which ranks 11th all-time in school history, and 716 rebounds. He is just one of the 11 players in program history to amass 1,000 points and 500 rebounds.