Shortly after Omari Spellman arrived with his Villanova teammates Monday night at the Palestra for the annual Big Five banquet, he reflected on the choices he was facing as a possible candidate for the NBA draft.
"I love being in college," the Wildcats' 6-foot-9½ forward said. "I love being a part of this team and I love my teammates. Declaring, obviously you get to gather information and things of that nature. If you go, you get to live out your dream. For me, whatever the best decision is, that's the decision I'm going to make."
Spellman announced his decision the very next morning, that he will enter his name in the NBA draft but will not hire an agent, a scenario in which he could return to Villanova if he decides he needs another season to improve his draft position. In the meantime, Spellman will be able to work out for and meet with NBA teams.
The deadline for pulling out of the draft and returning to school is May 30.
Spellman brings an interesting skill set to an NBA team: being able to play effective post defense but also to roam outside to shoot three-pointers at the offensive end. In his redshirt freshman season, Spellman shot 43.3 percent from three-point range, second best on the team, and led the Wildcats in rebounding at 8.0 per game and in blocked shots with 59.
He averaged 11.5 points and 8.8 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament. His two best games in the Wildcats' run to the national championship were 18 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots in the East Regional semifinals against West Virginia, and 15 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks against Kansas in the national semifinals.
"Omari's intelligence and willingness to be coached allowed him to make great strides this season," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "His development as a complete Villanova basketball player was instrumental to our team's success.
"We look forward to working with Omari and his family in the coming weeks as they go through the process of evaluating the next step in his basketball career."
It's been a busy offseason thus far for the Wildcats. Consensus national player of the year Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges already have declared for the draft, with Bridges hiring an agent and Brunson intending to hire one.