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Villanova Basketball 2018 Season Recap: Omari Spellman

A big decision looms for Villanova’s freshman center, a player that was a major factor on both ends of the court for the National Champions.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Championship Game-Michigan vs Villanova Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

It’s fair to say Omari Spellman had the season he deserved after his unfortunate 2016-2017. After being forced into a red-shirt by the NCAA last season, Spellman was a key component of Villanova’s National Championship team. His shooting ability facilitated the Wildcats’ inside-out offensive attack, while his size and shot-blocking anchored the team’s backline. The rookie center took home Big East Freshman of the Year honors and was recognized on the NCAA Tournament East Regional Team.

Spellman’s rare combination of size, explosiveness, and shooting ability has drawn the attention of NBA scouts. The stretch five prospect has entered the draft and been invited to the combine, but is yet to hire an agent.

Omari Spellman Stats

28.1 10.9 47.6% 43.3% 70.0% 8.0 0.8 0.7 1.5 1.0

Breaking Down Spellman’s Season

There’s an argument to be made that Villanova’s season doesn’t go the way it did without the presence of Omari Spellman. That’s not to slight the contributions of the rest of the Wildcats - The players were honored appropriately as individuals and together formed a unit so powerful and efficient they’d give Voltron a run for its money. However, Spellman’s unique skill set allowed Jay Wright and his offense to push the outer-limits of five-out basketball. When the freshman center was on, Villanova was unguardable in a way college basketball had yet to see.

No game exemplified Omari Spellman’s impact more than Villanova’s Final Four blowout of Kansas. The Wildcats’ center had one of his best games of the season in the National Semifinal, scoring 18 points to go along with 13 rebounds, and three blocks.

But Spellman’s impact wasn’t only displayed in his box, it was also clearly visible in Kansas’s as well. Jayhawks’ big man Udoka Azubuike, tasked with guarding Spellman, was run out of the game early and played only 26 minutes that evening. Azubuike, known for patrolling the paint, looked like a relic of the old era of basketball trying to run with Spellman. The KU center was unable to make an impact on the game, scoring just eight points and adding five rebounds.

Spellman displayed his ability to contain and even shut-down NBA prospects several times over the course of the season. Just two games earlier in the Sweet Sixteen, VU’s freshman center stared down West Virginia’s Sagaba Konate, holding the big man to 12 points while himself scoring 18, adding eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and three blocks.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award winner Angel Delgado might have had the worst time with Spellman. The Seton Hall center has had his issues with the Wildcats, but he had one of his worst performances of the season in the team’s matchup on the road at Villanova. Spellman was a brick wall on the interior, limiting Delgado to just seven points, eight rebounds and helping to force three turnovers. Spellman, meanwhile had his best offensive game of the season, scoring 26 points on 6-7 shooting from three point range.

Big Questions Ahead

When you consider his ability and his success against NBA-caliber players, it makes sense for Omari Spellman to receive a combine invite and test the pro waters. Spellman achieved as much as he possibly could have in his first season as a collegiate, and it appears he has a future among the best in the NBA.

If Spellman chooses to leave, Jay Wright will lose his most valuable chess piece next season. There’s no way for Villanova to replace Spellman’s interior defense and three point shooting, and the team will have to push Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree into a larger role and hope for quality minutes from Dylan Painter.

Spellman may choose to stay though, and if that ends up being the case, Villanova will return a player that has a realistic shot to contend for First Team All-Big East. Spellman will inherit some of the 25 shots that Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson took per game, allowing him to increase his scoring output. The VU center will also get a chance to work on his inside game, a skill set that was not prominently displayed in his first season.

To say that there’s a lot riding on Omari Spellman’s upcoming decision is an understatement. Whether he stays or goes, Spellman was a colossal piece of Villanova’s National Championship team and his 2017-2018 season won’t soon be forgotten.