Omari Spellman: Junior Primer

Omari Spellman’s game both fits and defies his body. Powerfully built and effective scoring inside as you’d expect, he also can attack off the dribble or step out and knock down long jump shots.

How he got here

Ohio native Omari Spellman broke out during the 2013 summer. A rising sophomore, he performed impressively at the Hoop Group Future All-American Camp and played so well during July that Cincinnati issued an early scholarship offer.

Spellman proceeded to open eyes into 2014. At the EYBL Hampton event last spring, where the opening day featured 16-under competition, Spellman competed with Team Scan and earned my choice as player of the night.

Spellman is massive, quick and agile — an uncommon trio

He performed admirably at other stops on the travel circuit as well. He showcased soft hands and quick reflexes for a 6-8, 250-pound man, using his initial burst to bully defenders inside or squeeze around them and release shots in traffic. On other occasions he stepped to the perimeter and lofted in threes from the top of the key.

By mid-June, he claimed additional offers from Florida, Indiana, Villanova, Iowa, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall and West Virginia.

Spellman transferred to the MacDuffie School in Springfield, Mass., for his junior year and took with him the No. 20 overall ranking in the junior class. Outside the grassroots media glare, he’s developing relatively quietly in New England.

To 2015. …

Spellman already has proved he has the ability to be highly effective at the high-major level. Even those less excited about his potential than we are grant that there’s no talent issue.

The key for him to win over everyone will be to demonstrate consistency and balance. Spellman at times can float too much outside, rather than utilize his body to punish interior defenders.

He also must watch his physique. He’s been listed at anywhere from 235 to 270 pounds, and from event to event he sometimes appears to fluctuate. Getting serious about his body and conditioning — one factor in why he’s less consistent — will be key to his success, and of course once he enters into a college fitness program, he should make rapid gains.

To make the point entirely clear, Spellman isn’t just a powerful guy who can hit a stationary jump shot. He possesses quick reactions to the ball and is far more agile than most players in his size category. He can move around defenders as well as over them, and many a 6-8 big man has carved out a place in the NBA on that basis.

It’s too early to know whether Spellman will follow in that line, but clearly he’s among the country’s most gifted big men and will be a top evaluation priority both for us and coaches during the next six months.

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