Q&A: Men’s basketball’s Taurus Samuels ’22 on “bleeding green”
Samuels reviewed his favorite Dartmouth memories both on and off the court, in addition to his future plans.
This article is featured in the 2022 Green Key special issue.
Taurus Samuels ’22 has been a standout member of Big Green basketball since he arrived at Dartmouth, playing in every game of his freshman season and 23 out of 25 games this season. Samuels recently committed to the University of Minnesota, where he will be continuing his academic and athletic career as a graduate student. Samuels sat down with The Dartmouth to discuss his next career move, as well as some of his favorite experiences on and off the court at Dartmouth.
What have been some of the highlights of your playing career at Dartmouth?
TS: Some of the highlights of my playing career at Dartmouth were when we got to play some of the major schools in the non-conference part of our season. In the first game of my sophomore year, we played Buffalo. It was a good game just because the year before, my freshman year, we had played Buffalo and we got beaten by a ton of points. So that next year, we had a rematch, we went on the road, and we ended up beating them. And then obviously this past year, going to Georgetown and beating them by nine in front of their home crowd was such a fun experience.
Another fun game within Ivy League play is when we play against Harvard. In my freshman year, we were picked to finish eighth in the league. Harvard was picked to finish first in the league. We opened up Ivy play at home against Harvard, and I remember our three captains having such a great game. They led us the whole way and everybody else rallied behind them. We ended up beating them by 20 on our home court.
What have been some challenges during your time at Dartmouth?
TS: Trying to navigate how to be a really high-level basketball player while also being a high-level student here at Dartmouth — it’s challenging to make sure you stay on top of your work as well on top of your skills on the court. There are a lot of sacrifices that you have to make as a student-athlete. The season is so long and it’s a winter sports season. We’re here, it’s freezing cold and there aren’t always a lot of people on campus, so that grind of the season has been a challenge. But it’s not the worst if you truly love the game and what you’re doing.
I think some other challenges have just been really trying to carve out and find my role within every single team I've been a part of — and that looks different from freshman to senior year, just because the team is different. My role, my responsibility, is different. You have to be a leader as a senior, so dealing with many different people on my team and different personalities is another big challenge. How do I get through to everybody to try to push them to be their best while also trying to push myself to be my best?
How has basketball shaped your college experience?
TS: As any freshman, you’re nervous about meeting new people and making friends and whatnot. But when I came here I had such great upperclassmen who welcomed my whole class with open arms, and I got a bunch of built-in best friends. So many of my teammates are my best friends, whether they’ve graduated or they’re still here, and through them, I was able to meet so many new people as well and interact with so many different parts of campus. Basketball has given me the ability to be a part of our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and our Dartmouth Black Student-Athlete Association, allowing me to thrive in other roles as well. I’ve been able to use my role as a basketball student-athlete to try to better campus life in any way that I can. It’s taught me a lot of valuable lessons, and I’ve loved every bit of my experience.
How has your time as president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and your other involvements influenced your Dartmouth experience?
TS: Coming to Dartmouth, I really wanted to dive into what the school has to offer. I wanted to be more than just a basketball player or student-athlete. That’s why I was excited to join SAAC after my coach came to me and asked if I would be interested. That impacted my Dartmouth experience, as well as being on the Dartmouth Black Student-Athlete Alliance — I serve as a search committee member and get to speak to alums about the student-athlete experience.
I’ve been able to meet so many new people at this school and tap into different social groups on campus. My other teammates and I, we say this all the time now, but it always comes back to the people. In my opinion, people can make or break any situation and any experience. I’ve been fortunate enough to be around a lot of great people and I think that’s why I’ve had such a positive experience at Dartmouth.
What are some Dartmouth traditions you’re excited to see return this spring?
TS: It’s funny because I’m pretty sure we’re the only class right now on campus that has ever experienced Green Key. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes this year. I’m sure there are lots of rumors and expectations of Green Key — people hyped up Green Key so much to me during my freshman year, and it lived up to and exceeded all those expectations. It was one of the most fun weeks of my Dartmouth career, and I was so bummed that we couldn’t have it the last two years. I also know some alums are coming up, and it’ll be fun to see their faces again — it’s one of the few times all of Dartmouth is going to be together in one space.
Another event that I’m excited for is the athletic department’s annual Celebration of Excellence. We did it virtually the last two years, and that’s a cool event because it’s exactly like the name. You celebrate all the student-athletes and their accomplishments and what we’ve gone through during our individual seasons. It’s nice to see all the student-athletes get together and get dressed up to celebrate our hard work. We also have a Dartmouth Black Student-Athlete Alliance gala this spring — it’s the first time we’re doing it, but I’m excited for that, and I think that event will keep going on after I graduate.
What was important for you to factor in when looking at graduate schools? Why did you decide on Minnesota?
TS: I was talking to my high school coach and he joked, “I think you found the one place colder than Hanover to go to school.” It’s exciting when a school in a Power Five conference reaches out and wants to recruit you. Going on the visit, looking at the facilities, talking to their coaches and seeing the opportunity to play there — and what kind of role I could possibly have — was really fun and appealing.
Also, the Big 10 plays on a national stage, so being able to play against the non-conference teams that they’re facing and being able to utilize the resources that they have, that was a huge factor for me. Minneapolis also has a lot of Fortune 500 companies with their headquarters there. When I get there, I’m going to check to see if there are any Dartmouth grads out there and try to network. I’ll also have the Minnesota network that I can try to tap into as well.
What excites you, or is perhaps stressful, about playing in a new environment and relocating after four years?
TS: When I get there, I’m going to be new again, but there’s another layer on top of that — I’m the new guy who already went to college for four years. I think there are advantages there and also some obstacles that I’ll have to figure my way through, but it’s exciting and it’s going to be a challenge. When I was deciding on where to go to school, I wanted to get away from home and experience something different. And now I get the opportunity to go and experience a different part of the country again, which is very exciting.
I’ve grown to love Dartmouth and I bleed Green. It’s going to be challenging to be open to going and experiencing Minnesota for everything it has to offer. I think I will be, but I’m going to miss Dartmouth. I don’t think that’s the challenge of going anywhere new but just the challenge of graduating and being done with undergrad.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.