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Villanova loses fourth key player to NBA as Omari Spellman stays in draft

Villanova forward Omari Spellman celebrates during the first half against Kansas in the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Saturday, March 31, 2018, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Villanova is losing yet another of its stars from last season’s national championship team.

Redshirt sophomore forward Omari Spellman became the fourth Villanova underclassman to turn pro this offseason when he announced on social media Wednesday that he intends to hire an agent and remain in the NBA draft.

How good of a prospect is Omari Spellman?

A skilled 6-foot-9 forward who rebounded and defended the rim effectively while also shooting 43.3 percent from behind the arc, Spellman was one of the keys to Villanova’s title run last March. He effectively defended opposing big men on one end while spacing the floor and creating mismatches with his outside shooting at the other.

Spellman projects as a likely second-round pick in this year’s NBA draft. His ball skills and perimeter shooting at his size should be enough to ensure he gets drafted, but questions about his body and his ability to defend in space limit his upside.

How good can Villanova be next season?

The loss of Spellman, national player of the year Jalen Brunson, projected lottery pick Mikal Bridges and title game hero Donte DiVincenzo is a massive blow for Villanova. The Wildcats will start next season without their four leading scorers from a team that went 36-4 and won all six of its NCAA tournament games by double figures.

Villanova is probably still the favorite to win the Big East and a likely preseason top 12 team, but no longer should the Wildcats be considered a leading contender to capture a third national title in four years. They’ll have to replace more than 70 percent of their scoring from last season as well as their leading shot blocker, rebounder and assist maker.

Who needs to step up for Villanova now?

While Villanova surely expected to lose Brunson and Bridges to the NBA, the loss of DiVincenzo and Spellman was one the Wildcats could not have seen coming until recently. Both boosted their stock during the NCAA tournament, Spellman with his consistent effectiveness and DiVincenzo with his bolt of brilliance in the title game.

For Villanova to win the Big East and remain relevant in the national title picture, the Wildcats will need to develop replacements for both players. Jermaine Samuels and Albany grad transfer Joe Cremo will both get a crack at filling the void that DiVincenzo is leaving. Eric Paschall, Cole Swider, and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree will be the pillars in the frontcourt unless Wright is able to add an impact grad transfer. 

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Jeff Eisenberg is a college basketball writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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