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It is Samhan who leads the Gaels, both by force of his circa-1965 post moves (shoulder fakes, drop steps, baby hooks—Walt Bellamy would be proud) and his straightforward talk before, during and after games. Late in Saturday's win over Villanova, Samhan was next to Wildcats guard Corey Stokes on the foul lane and recalls saying, "You impressed me, man. Did I impress you?" When Stokes didn't respond, Samhan said, "I'll take your silence as a yes."
Samhan's personality can distract from his game, which is actually quite sublime for a late-blooming big man who was cut from his high school freshman team as a 6'8" 270-pounder. He transferred and subsequently played three years of varsity at San Ramon Valley High, but as a senior he weighed 310 pounds and was lightly recruited. St. Mary's coach Randy Bennett took a chance and told Samhan, "You can play, but if you get in shape, you can really play."
Samhan was redshirted as a freshman, common in football but rare in basketball. He has since lost more than 50 pounds and gained quickness and a wide array of moves. It is rare that a functional big man remains in college for his full career, but Samhan says he will graduate in May with a degree in communications and a full college career's worth of memories.
"Some guys get cheated on this basketball deal," says Samhan. "I got the most out of it I could possibly get: Great friendships I'll remember for the rest of my life, a degree that I actually worked for and playing in the NCAA tournament. That's a pretty good deal."
If Kentucky's Wall is one and done, think of the Gaels' Samhan as five and done. The beauty of the tournament is that there is room for both, intersecting in one March. Only here. Only now. That's a pretty good deal, too.
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For Luke Winn's tournament blog and analysis from Seth Davis, go to SI.com/cbb