It’s been a long and winding road, but national champion Terrence Samuel will be back in Storrs one last time. After transferring to Penn State following two seasons at UConn, Samuel will play at Gampel Pavilion once again as a member of the USF Bulls.
Samuel played a small but critical role for the Huskies as a freshman during their 2013-14 championship run, serving as an important bench player that finished at the rim, made free throws and played hard-nosed defense.
One of Samuel’s best games as a Husky came in the third round against No. 2 seed Villanova. With Shabazz Napier in foul trouble, Samuel came up big, scoring a season-high 11 points in the Huskies’ third-round win over Villanova. One game later, he scored 10 points in the Sweet 16 win over Iowa State. Samuel also scored one basket and added a steal in 11 minutes in the championship game over Kentucky.
“I think about it all the time,” Samuel said about his game against Villanova. “When you don’t play that much all season and your name is called in the tournament against the top team in the country, you always have to be ready. That was one of my best games as a UConn player.”
During his sophomore season, Samuel struggled to get consistent minutes, largely thanks to the addition of Rodney Purvis. Seeking more playing time, Samuel left the program on good terms and decided to play at Penn State.
After sitting out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Samuel played one season as a Nittany Lion, averaging 3.9 points and 1.8 assists in roughly 16 minutes per game. But after not seeing action in five of his final nine games at Penn State, Samuel decided to return to the American Athletic Conference and spend his final collegiate season at USF.
While the Bulls have been awful, Samuel has put together a solid season, providing a veteran presence and averaging 7.7 points and 2.9 assists per game and still has the same tenacity on defense. He’s also shooting 50 percent (albeit in limited attempts) from the 3-point line, a far cry from when he went 0-18 from deep during his UConn career.
“I just have to do a little bit of everything,” Samuel said of his role with Bulls. “As an older guy, you kind of have to lead the younger guys.”
Even though it might feel weird to be on the visitor’s bench, Samuel is excited to be back where he started his collegiate career.
“It will definitely be a little bit emotional thinking about all the good times I had in the past,” Samuel said. “I’m just looking forward to it.”
Although Samuel will be suiting up for the opposing team, here’s hoping he receives a warm welcome from UConn fans Wednesday night for the contributions he made to bring home the program’s fourth national title in 2014.