Gillespie and Samuels Undrafted, Sign As UDFAs


Olivia Pasquale/Villanovan Photography

Collin Gillespie (center) and Jermaine Samuels (right) defend in the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Both signed contracts with NBA teams as undrafted free agents.

Colin Beazley, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Although neither Collin Gillespie nor Jermaine Samuels heard their names called on Thursday night at the 2022 NBA Draft, both will be getting NBA opportunities. After the draft, Gillespie signed as an undrafted free agent on a two-way deal with the Denver Nuggets and Samuels signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Indiana Pacers.

A two-way contract means a player is assigned to both the NBA team and their G-League affiliate, in Gillespie’s case, the Grand Rapids Gold. Players get opportunities with both teams and can play for both, but the contract pays them depending on which roster they are on.

An Exhibit 10 is a one-year minimum salary contract. Samuels will count against the Pacers’ 20 player offseason roster limit, but his salary will not count against the cap unless he makes the regular season roster.

The two are part of one of the most decorated recruiting classes in Villanova history. Both played on the 2018 National Championship winning team during their freshman seasons, and both emerged as key pieces on the 2022 squad that reached the Final Four.

Gillespie ended his Wildcat career as one of the greatest Villanova players of all time. The guard scored 1,858 points in his five seasons, good for 12th best in program history, and holds the Villanova record for most games in a career (156). Gillespie was named Big East Player of the Year in both 2021 and 2022, adding the Bob Cousy Award as the nation’s top point guard in his final season.

Samuels may not have had as many accolades as his roommate, but he was as key to Villanova’s success as Gillespie. Samuels was always ready to do the little things, rebounding, assists, playing defense and taking charges. Samuels could also be trusted to score when needed, hitting the game-winning three to upset top-ranked Kansas in 2019 and averaging 20 points per game in the NCAA Tournament to lead the Wildcats to the Final Four in 2022. Samuels was named as the South Region’s Most Outstanding Player.

Despite their successes at Villanova, neither Gillespie nor Samuels were expected to be drafted. Gillespie drew some projections as a late-second round pick, but the consensus was that both would be highly sought-after undrafted free agents.

Reports of Gillespie’s signing with the Nuggets emerged immediately following the draft. The Nuggets finished 48-34 and earned the six seed in the Western Conference before falling to the eventual champion Golden State in five games.

Samuels’ signing was reported early on Friday morning.

If both stick in the NBA, they will be the 10th and 11th active NBA Wildcats, joining Ryan Arcidacono, Saddiq Bey, Mikal Bridges, Jalen Brunson, Donte Divincenzo, Josh Hart, Kyle Lowry, Eric Paschall and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.