After a decision by the NCAA delayed his Villanova debut by a year, the much-anticipated arrival of Omari Spellman started with a double-double performance against Columbia in the 2017-18 season opener. Since then, Spellman only got better. He enjoyed a highlight game against Temple, where he scored a career-high 27 points and grabbed eight rebounds. He also had standout performances against the Seton Hall Pirates, Saint Joseph’s Hawks, and Hofstra Pride.
”Freed Omari” continued into the postseason, with the redshirt freshman making it onto the NCAA Tournament’s All-East Regional Team. The question now is, which city will get to experience the phenomenon next?
Spellman’s Career Stats
This is probably the most obvious translatable trait of Spellman that should nicely project at the next level. With today’s NBA being so much more welcoming to big men that can stretch the floor, Spellman can easily step in and provide a shooting threat from beyond the arc. The 6-foot-9 center knocked down 43.3 percent (65-of-150) of his three-point shots this past season. He thrives in catch-and-shoot situations, spotting up at the perimeter, as well as pick-and-pop plays. He’s a great face up forward and when he’s able to get into a groove from deep, opposing big men have to come out of the paint to respect his shot. A notable instance of this was in the 92-76 victory over Seton Hall on Feb. 4, when he forced Angel Delgado to step out of the comfort zone as the last-line-of-defense rim protector, opening the lane for the Wildcats to pull away in the second half as he continued to drain shot after shot from deep. He also rendered the hulking 7-foot, 280-pound Udoka Azubuike useless against the ‘Cats, in their Final Four matchup with the Kansas Jayhawks. He impacts the game when he’s able to knock down his shots, in more ways than just adding points on the board.
Big Man Instincts
Standing 6-foot-9, Spellman doesn’t have overwhelming height, nor does he have an extraordinary vertical, but he’s a smart player that is able to get good positioning and one that is able to compensate whenever he goes against bigger competition. He is an aggressive rebounder, crashing the glass at a good angle but also doing so with great determination. Spellman was Villanova’s top rebounder, but he was also top-five in the Big East in terms of racking up boards. According to KenPom, Spellman also had the fourth-highest offensive rebounding percentage in the conference. He’s a solid putback machine, but possibly underrated as a passer out of the post, hitting open teammates if he opts to defer the second-chance opportunity to another player after an offensive rebound.
Aside from that, Spellman can hold his own against opposing big men. He has a bulky frame, he’s light on his feet, and never really got manhandled in a matchup. In fact, he was able to keep his man quiet. He might not have the ideal height, but he’s made it work with solid instincts on both ends of the court.
Spellman is certainly competent on offense. His shooting alone is by far enough to make him some sort of scoring asset in the NBA. However, his work in the post or operating with his back to the basket needs more polish. Sure, he’s had some post up finishes over less physically imposing players or against guys he can outmuscle, but he will need to be more creative in this area of the game. This might be a product of being young with only one real season of college basketball in the stat books to his name. If he’s unable to easily post up his opponent or gets doubled, he tends to force up a shot, sometimes awkwardly shooting up a close-range jumper. He doesn’t have a diverse arsenal of post moves at the moment. Spellman is more comfortable operating as a face-up big man, but will look to grow as a player down low. He can’t always be on the three-point line or operate in the mid-to-high post.
Going off of the previous point, Spellman is still growing as a player. He’s admitted that he’s not a finished product yet, and told the Big East Digital Network that he’s open and ready to finish his development off in the NBA or the G-League as opposed to staying in college. While he’s made it work on the court--even with height limitations--NBA scouts would like to see him continue to lean out and lose weight. Spellman transformed his body throughout his redshirt year at ‘Nova and it’s been shown before with Kris Jenkins how much a difference a couple of years can make. Spellman has dropped over 30 pounds since coming to ‘Nova and has set his sights on 240 pounds and 10 percent body fat. He took a big leap in his transformation physically, and really grew as a player throughout the season. He still has much more to go in improving his quickness, defense, and post presence on offense, so it’ll come down to a team wanting to work with him.
Spellman is looking like a late-first to early second round pick. It’s been a busy offseason for him, as he’s worked out for the Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Lakers, the Clippers, San Antonio Spurs, and the Utah Jazz. The Spurs recently expressed interest to host Spellman for a second pre-draft workout before Thursday night and if they love him enough to take him 18th overall that would be an interesting fit for Spellman. San Antonio does have a great knack for developing players and the team-ball system would be a great situation for Spellman. His game reminds me of Jared Sullinger or Boris Diaw. He’ll personally go for the Draymond Green comparison, which isn’t a bad parallel either and would be a pretty solid career to have.