Villanova center Omari Spellman announced on Tuesday morning that he will be declaring for the NBA draft but will not be hiring an agent, preserving his collegiate eligibility as he goes through the draft process.
“Omari’s intelligence and willingness to be coached allowed him to make great strides last season,” said Wildcats head coach Jay Wright in a release. “His development as a complete Villanova Basketball player was instrumental to our team’s success. We look forward to working together with Omari and his family in the coming weeks as they go through the process of evaluating the next step in his basketball career.”
Spellman is a 6-foot-9 big man that totally changed his body when he arrived on campus at Villanova. After getting ruled ineligible for his freshman season by the NCAA, Spellman proceeded to drop nearly 50 pounds of fat from his frame. He’s now a chiseled 245 pounds, and, at the end of his redshirt freshman season, far more explosive than anyone thought he would be. He isn’t a great shot-blocker, but he was effective at the college level.
Spellman’s real skill is his ability to play on the perimeter. He shot 43.3 percent from three this season, and he’s skilled and coordinated enough to be able to put the ball on the floor and attack a closeout. His ability to play on the perimeter offensively and defend the paint on the defensive end was what brought everything together for Villanova. He was their keystone. There is no more valuable combination of skills in basketball at this point than being able to defend the rim on one end and space the floor on the other.
And that’s what makes his decision here so important.
Spellman is a borderline first round pick and probably will get selected high enough in this draft that he could be looking at a guaranteed contract this season. If he stays for another year, he could be looking at being drafted higher in a weaker draft, but I’m not quite sure just how much more he is going to be able to improve his stock beyond becoming a better creator. He is what he is, and that’s a promising prospect as an NBA role player in the pace and space era.
But if he returns to Villanova, that’s where things change. Spellman would probably show up on some preseason all-american teams. His presence on the roster makes Villanova a legitimate threat to repeat as national champs as opposed to simply being the favorite to win what is probably going to be a watered down Big East.
The choices that Spellman, as well as Donte DiVincenzo and Eric Paschall, make will be the decisions with the most influence on the 2018-19 college basketball season.