2014 Post Player Excited By Illini Offer

The Fighting Illini basketball coaching staff is always on the lookout for quality post players. The good ones are few and far between. The Illini recently offered Benet Academy big man Sean O'Mara a scholarship. He sounds like he would be a good fit for what the UI wants to do, and he is strongly drawn to his state school.

2014 big man prospect Sean O'Mara may have given away his ultimate intentions when asked his thoughts on receiving an Illinois scholarship offer.

"It was really exciting actually. I really like the new coaching staff, and I like the way Coach (John) Groce is dealing with his program. I'm really excited to see where it goes in the future. Maybe I'll be an Illini soon."

Did we hear that right? Does the Benet Academy prospect have a strong attraction to his state school?

"Yeah I do, definitely."

What type of system does he prefer to play?

"I want a program that uses their fours and fives interchangeably, moves throughout the low post and high post and uses a lot of pick-and-roll, and then still likes to get out and run in transition."

That sounds almost exactly how Groce describes the Illini attack.

"Yeah. That's what my AAU team does too."

Another factor favoring the Illini is assistant coach Dustin Ford, who works specifically with the bigs.

"I like him a lot. It would be exciting to play for him."

Illini coaches envision O'Mara fitting well into their style of play.

"They see me at the four or five position. They like my back-to-the-basket game a lot, and they like that I'm working to extend my range.

"The way they run their system, the four and five are basically interchangeable. That's something I do with my AAU team. It really worked well for us, and it will be good in the future too."

O'Mara has improved greatly in the past year, and it's clear his best days are still ahead. He is a rarity when it comes to post players.

"I grew up as a back-to-the-basket center. It's pretty much a lost art now. No one tries to play the low post game anymore. They want to get the ball and shoot from the outside.

"No one wants to get layups every possession like you can in the post, but I really enjoy that part of my game. It's pretty much what I've done most of the time."

He has the potential to extend his range, although that part of his game will always be secondary to his work around the hoop.

"I'm definitely working on it. For me, I think my bread and butter is going to be my back-to-the-basket game at center. But obviously being able to do the other things when the time comes is gonna be huge.

"They told me that extending range is always key. Moving out so I can start shooting threes soon will help. Hopefully I can keep moving my range out, and then touch, footwork and power moves are always something a big man needs to work on."

He may be an old school post player, but he's not ready to mimic a sweeping hook shot the great centers from the 1960's like Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Illini Skip Thoren utilized so effectively.

"I have a little bit of a hook shot. I'm still trying to perfect it, but I use it sometimes. I have a little bit of a turnaround baby hook. I'm not doing the running across the lane hook shot."

O'Mara may still be growing.

"I'm 6'-8.5". I have a size 18 foot. The doctors think I'm still growing. I have a 6'-10" uncle, my grandpa is 6'-7" and my dad is 6'-5". They're hoping I have some more growing to do."

O'Mara's scholarship offer list is enlarging, but it appears the Illini lead for his services at this time.

"I've been offered by Illinois, UIC, Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville, Xavier, LaSalle, Iowa State, Marquette, St. Louis...I'm trying not to miss anybody. I've been talking to Ball State a lot, also DePaul, Purdue and Iowa. It's been fun."

Benet Academy has enjoyed success in recent years. O'Mara believes more good times are ahead.

"I think we're gonna be about the same. We should be good. We're still looking to improve, and we're doing that right now. We had a good summer, and we're looking forward to getting back into the season and seeing where it goes."

Next step for O'Mara is a campus visit. Will that be happening soon?

"I think so. I'm meeting with my AAU coach to set everything up. They're definitely on the list for a visit."

He may not be ready to commit yet, but that day may not be far off.

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