RIP Nino Samuel

  • mercy , I didn’t realize , hadn’t heard Nino had passed , 67 yrs old - - mercy right there with me. - -He was an absolute stud in High School, thought KU had a star headed their way , just didn’t turn out.

    Nino to me was just another case where I/others said that Teddy could recruit but couldn’t Coach with a dam. - He had several really talented players but we really didn’t do a lot with those players , attendance started dropping off and the rest is History.

    So sad to hear guy was built and his vertical was crazy 46 inches I think the article said, all I know the guy could flat get up , just didn’t fit here , he said he didn’t fit the style - - I think there was other things going on with him and Ted also. - - you just rest buddy always a JAYHAWK. - - ROCK CHALK NINO

  • Nino was a great NAIA-level talent at Marymount, but I don’t know how much playing time he would’ve gotten at KU anyway. That era produced a Final Four team with Danny Knight, Rick Suttle, Norm Cook, Roger Morningstar, Dale Greenlee, and Bob Kivisto.

    When Ted’s assistant coach Sam Miranda came to our dorm in '74 to do a meet-and-greet, one of us asked why Nino didn’t stick in Lawrence. Sam just looked at us and made a shooting motion. I’m sure there was more to it than that though.

  • ‘A man among boys,’ Kansas high school hoops legend Nino Samuel dies at age 67

    By Gary Bedore Wichita Eagle June 20, 2020 08:52 PM

    Former University of Kansas basketball power forward Nino Samuel, who is regarded as one of the greatest high school players in state of Kansas history, has died at the age of 67.

    Samuel, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound two-time Kansas player of the year at Salina Central High School (1970-71, 71-72) died Wednesday in Covington, Georgia, where he spent the past 30 years as owner and CEO of the highly-successful “Nino Samuel Basketball Training.”

    The New Jersey native who moved to Salina in 1969, had a kidney transplant in 1992 after a year on dialysis and six knee surgeries throughout his adult life. His basketball career included a year-and-half stay at KU and two seasons at Marymount College, where, after transferring from KU, he helped the Spartans to a third-place finish in the 1976 NAIA National Tournament.

    “He was like a man among boys in high school. He had this great physique. He was unbelievably athletic,” recalled former KU assistant athletic director Richard Konzem, now men’s and women’s golf coach at Rockhurst University. Konzem as a junior-high student in Salina never missed a home game in Samuel’s three-year high school career.

    “In an era before cell phones and social media, everybody knew about Nino,” Konzem added.

    Samuel averaged 12.8 points and 11.1 rebounds a game his sophomore season (1969-70) to help Salina High School win the Central Kansas League championship for the first time in 15 years. Blessed with a 46-inch vertical leap, he skied for 23.5 points per game and led newly-named Salina Central High School to the Class 4A state title his junior campaign. He averaged a whopping 31.1 points and 19.3 rebounds a game his senior campaign for a Salina Central Mustang team that lost in the state quarterfinals.

    Samuel’s 15.3 rebounds per game for a career and 19.3 boards per game for a season (1971-72) are the most by a single player in state of Kansas history.

    “He was a legend without question. He was a remarkable player,” said Harold Bechard, long time Salina Journal and Hutchinson News sports writer/editor who attended Marymount at the same time as Samuel.

    “People talk about Jackie Stiles and how she would pack the gyms everywhere,” Bechard added of the former Claflin High School phenom who went on to star at Missouri State. “Salina Central packed gyms wherever they went. People wanted to see Nino.”

    Samuel elected to attend KU (over Arizona and UCLA) where he reported second semester of his freshman season after becoming academically eligible. Faced with great expectations, Samuel, who was not an accurate outside shooter, averaged 2.8 points on 20.8% shooting in 12 games in 1972-73, his freshman season. He played in just nine games his sophomore campaign before electing to return to Salina to finish his college career.

    “I still love Kansas, but that was not a good fit for me,” Samuel said in an interview with Sir Media Group. “I was a greyhound and that wasn’t the style of play. But I hold no animosity for anybody there. I still love Kansas.”

    Of Samuel’s KU days, Konzem noted: “Now he couldn’t shoot it a lick. What he did was get it inside and score or get the rebound and score. Everybody thought he was going to be the savior. The difference was now he was going against 6-9, 6-10 guys. He was solely an inside player who rebounded. It was a different style of play at the time. KU didn’t run it up and down the floor then.”

    After graduating from Marymount with a degree in Sociology in 1976, Samuel played professionally for Athletes-in-Action (1976-77), in the Philippines (1977-78) and for the Las Vegas Dealers semipro team (1978-79).

    Samuel earned his personal trainer certificate in 1996. He was personal coach-mentor for four-time Olympic basketball gold medalist Teresa Edwards, two-time Olympic basketball gold medalist Katrina McClain, University of Georgia hoops All-American Saudia Roundtree and former NFL all-pro player Terance Mathis.

    “I had my degree in Sociology, so I went into counseling and did that until I moved to Atlanta (Covington),” Samuel told the Topeka Capital-Journal in an interview 14 years ago. “I don’t regret any of it. I take comfort in the fact that I’m doing what I should be.

    “I’ve been through a lot. I’ve been at the top and all the way at the bottom,” he added. “But I believe those things (knee injuries and kidney problem) happened for a reason and helped me in what I do now. It’s really amazing how it’s all worked out. I’ve got to go to a lot of places and meet a lot of people. This is the right situation for my family.”

    There have been some tributes to Samuel on Twitter this week.

    “I was class/teammate of Nino’s at Central. He did something in practice every day that you were just in awe of. If we did highlight tapes back then, it would have been legendary. He was an even better person. Heaven just got better,” wrote Max Davis-Johnson.

    “I saw him play as a prepster. One of the best I have ever seen. Peace be with him,” wrote Walt Bettis.

    Noted John Rinkenbaugh: “Nino and Darnell Valentine (Wichita Heights) were the two best high school players I ever saw in person. RIP.”

    And wrote Charles Ray Williams: “I attended Bethany College. Mark Lysell, Ol’ Stuga and I had many a debate on who we thought was the best high school player ever. Nino was his guy while I claimed Ricky Ross (Wichita South) as the greatest ever.”

    The Salina Central boys basketball account Tweeted: “Nino created a legacy at Central that people still talk about.”

    Charles Bowman wrote on Samuel’s work Webpage: “I was at Salina Central when you were a senior as a teacher and assistant coach. I retired from education, but was asked by a good friend to teach the passing game to our local high school team. After watching them play, I remarked that I had a film of an outstanding post player they should watch. It was an old black and white film of Salina Central vs. Emporia (1971). You must have had 25 boards and 25 points. These young men were amazed, even 35 years later. I googled your name and see where you are still involved with basketball. I think that’s great. You have so many skills to teach…”

    Samuel, who was inducted into the Kansas Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Salina Central Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019, is survived by his wife, Tressie, two children and six grandchildren.

    “His wife said, ‘You know as good a player as everybody says he was he was a better dad.’ She said it’s what she’ll always remember,” Bechard stated.

    Visitation will be held Monday from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. at Gregory B. Levett and Sons Funeral Home and Crematory, 1999 Hwy. 138 SE, Conyers, Georgia 30013. Graveside Service will be held 11a.m. Tuesday at Green Meadow Memorial Gardens, 699 American Legion Road NE, Conyers, Georgia 30012.

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