Cardinals' Samuels to hire agent

Updated: May 5, 2010, 11:17 AM ET
By Pat Forde | ESPN.com

Louisville sophomore center Samardo Samuels will keep his name in the draft and retain the services of an agent.

Samuels is considered a fringe second-round pick and his entry into the draft shocked Louisville coaches and administrators, who believed he was making a mistake.

But now there is no turning back for the 6-foot-9 Samuels, who projects as a tweener between center and power forward in the NBA.

The Jamaica native came out of St. Benedict's (N.J.) High School as the national USA Today Player of the Year and started from his first day as a Cardinal.

He averaged 11.8 points and 4.9 rebounds as a freshman on the 2008-09 team that won the Big East title, earned the overall No. 1 NCAA tournament seed and advanced to the Elite Eight.

Last season he led the team in scoring (15.3 points per game) and rebounding (7.0 a game) but occasionally struggled as an undersized big man against quality frontcourts.

He was a third-team All-Big East selection last year, but was sometimes criticized by Louisville coach Rick Pitino for not playing strong enough around the basket.

The departure of Samuels is a significant blow to Louisville, which already lost three starters from last season's 20-13 team. The Cardinals now will be without their top three scorers from a team that bowed out in the first round of the NCAA tournament to California in March.

Samuels' exit could mean a scholarship for Kentucky's "Mr. Basketball" Elisha Justice, a 5-foot-11 guard from state-champion Shelby Valley. He had committed to Louisville as a walk-on.

Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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