Villanova’s Omari Spellman to remain in NBA draft

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Villanova big man Omari Spellman will sign with an agent and remain in the NBA draft, forgoing his final three seasons of eligibility.

Spellman, a 6-foot-9, 245 pound stretch five, made the announcement on his Instagram page on Wednesday afternoon. He is expected to be taken in the late first or early second round.

Like Donte DiVincenzo, who announced on Tuesday that he will remain in the NBA draft as well, Spellman played his way into being an potential first round pick with a strong performance in the NBA draft combine.

But unlike DiVincenzo, Spellman is a piece where Villanova does not exactly have the horses to make up for his loss. Don’t get me wrong, losing DiVincenzo was a blow — there was a chance he could have been the preseason national player of the year — but Villanova has players that can fill his void. Albany grad transfer Joe Cremo is going to be a contributor at the Big East level. Phil Booth and Eric Paschall will be able to shoulder a heavier load offensively. Jermaine Samuels has the potential to be a star for the Wildcats one day, perhaps even next season.

Jay Wright does not have that luxury.

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 enough at the college level. He’s a good rebounder as well, and given his high body-fat content — he had the highest number at the combine — there is still room for him to streamline his body even more.

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 connector. 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.

That’s not going to be easy to replace, and it’s the biggest reason why Villanova has slid to No. 5 in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.