Samuels rebounds from injury

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 29, 1999

When life deals you a lemon, make lemonade out of it. That’s what former Trinity Episcopal Day School basketball standout Tristan Samuels is trying to do after missing the first half of the season at Friends University in Wichita, Kan.

Samuels transferred to Friends after a redshirt season at Pratt (Kan.) College.

&uot;Two days before practice started I twisted my ankle,&uot; said Samuels, who injured the ankle when he came down on a teammate’s foot during a pickup game. &uot;I had never been injured before. It was really tough.&uot;

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Samuels returned to practice 2 1/2 weeks later and turned the other ankle.

&uot;The bad thing is, I was playing really well before the injuries,&uot; Samuels said. &uot;I&160;was lighting it up in practice. But I basically went downhill after the injuries. I lost my foot speed some and have been out of shape. I heard Charles Barkley talk about when he injured his knee he was miserable to be around. I was the same way. I wasn’t too nice to be around. I had a bad attitude.&uot;

Samuels, who averaged 13.7 points a game at Trinity, did compete in junior varsity games, scoring 18 points against Pratt’s junior varsity team.

&uot;There was a lot of jawing, but I knew most of their moves,&uot; Samuels said.

Samuels is in Natchez staying with Wade Craig and family, where he stayed his senior year as a foreign exchange student from Australia his senior year at Trinity.

But it’s not like Samuels has not been able to compete at the varsity level at Friends, a Division III school.

Samuels played American football for the first time, finishing as the third leading punter in his conference, averaging 41 yards a kick.

&uot;The football coach’s wife is from Australia,&uot;&160;Samuels said. &uot;We were all joking about me coming out and he asked to me come out and kick a few. I went out there and punted one about 50 yards and he asked me to join the team.&uot;

Samuels said he asked the coach for reassurance that he would be protected.

&uot;I&160;had to punt about eight times a game because our offense was terrible,&uot; he said.

Samuels learned to kick a football competing in Australian Rules Football, where the ball is advanced by kicking.

&uot;Now I can say I’ve played every form of football,&uot; said Samuels, who also competed in soccer in Australia.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Samuels is now debating going back to Friends, where he has been assured of at least being the sixth man, or sitting out a semester and working on his game.

&uot;I think it might be good for me to sit back and look over my situation,&uot; said Samuels, who is still hoping to play for a school closer to Natchez.

&uot;Everything happens for a reason, so it might be good for me to get in better shape and see what happens,&uot; he said.