Villanova coach Jay Wright was hosting a cookout for his team Tuesday night at his home when forward Omari Spellman asked to have a word with him about the NBA draft.
“He had two good options,” Wright said Wednesday. “If he stays, he could be one of the best big guys in the country next year, but if he goes, he’s got good opportunities, too. He told me at my house last night at our pool. But we were talking about it every day.”
Spellman, who played one season with the Wildcats, informed Wright that he was remaining in the draft and hiring an agent, news that he shared Wednesday on Instagram, making him the fourth member of the 2018 national champions to leave for the draft with eligibility remaining.
The 6-foot-9 Spellman, who redshirted his first season over an NCAA eligibility issue, averaged 10.9 points and a team-high 8.0 rebounds. His versatility was displayed at both ends of the court; he was among the Big East leaders in both three-point shooting (43.3 percent) and blocked shots (1.5 per game).
Spellman joined guards Donte DiVincenzo and Jalen Brunson and swing man Mikal Bridges in the draft, four of the top six players from the team that defeated Michigan for the national championship. DiVincenzo, who like Spellman also entered the draft process without hiring an agent, said Tuesday he would stay in the draft.
“I sure wish we had them back, but I’m kind of glad it’s over,” Wright said in a Davis Center interview with reporters. “You’re talking with them and you’re talking with all the people in the NBA and trying to get them as much information as possible.
“I think Donte and Omari both did a great job of gathering that information, kind of internalizing it and making good decisions. At the same time, you’re doing it for Mikal and Jalen, too. So it has been a really busy few weeks.”
Wright explained that the NBA conducts a pre-draft council that predicts where players stand before the NBA Combine, and offers a revised prediction after the combine.
“Both of their prospects improved,” he said. “They’re both kind of in the same range, of really a good chance of being a mid- to late first-round, slight chance of second round. You really can’t get much better than that unless you’re going to be a lottery pick. So it’s a really good opportunity for both of them.”
According to nine mock drafts surveyed, there is an outside chance that all four players could be first-round picks, though Bridges is the only unanimous first-rounder.
Of course, losing four players means a rebuild will be in order for the Wildcats, and perhaps even an end to a five-year run that has seen them go 165-21 with two national championships, four Big East regular-season titles and three conference tournament crowns, and five consecutive Big Five championships.
Wright said he was “open to everything” and that includes graduate transfers. Villanova has a commitment from guard Joe Cremo of Albany, and appears to be in the running for forward Reid Travis of Stanford, although Kentucky is said to have the inside track.
“It’s kind of exciting,” Wright said. “We’ve had four or five years in a row where you knew we had a good team coming back. You knew who the guys were. You just had to get them to be the best they could be. Now we’ve got a lot of question marks so it’s a different kind of coaching. It’s exciting. It’s going to be a challenge.”
My experience in college has by far. more than anything else in my life, shaped me into the young man I am today. I have met friends that I will cherish forever. Villanova University is a very special place, and it holds an even more special place in my heart. And to my teamma- no to my brothers I will love you guys forever. Coach Wright has helped me mature as a man along with some of the best coaches in the country Kyle Neptune, Ashley Howard, George Halcovage, and Mike Nardi. I will forever appreciate everything done for me. To the Nova Nation, thank you for the support and love I have received as a member of the family and community, that is something that I will cherish forever and I know Villanova is a place I can always call home. And last, but probably the most important to me, is my mother away from home, Arleshia Davidson. We share a love and bond that will never be broken. In saying this, I would like to announce that I will forgo my final three years of college eligibility and remain in the NBA Draft! THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING NOVA NATION!!!
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