Prized Villanova recruit ruled ineligble
The NCAA’s initial eligibility review on Villanova freshman Omari Spellman is in and the prized recruit is out for the 2016-17 basketball season, the university announced Friday.
“We are extremely disappointed for Omari,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said in a statement. “While we don’t agree with the NCAA’s decision, we are members of the association and respect it. We understand why the NCAA felt it had to rule this way.
“We will make a positive out of this for Omari. He will concentrate on his academics and individual development this season. In the long run Omari will be a better student and player for this experience.”
Under NCAA initial eligibility bylaws, a prospective student-athlete must complete initial eligibility requirements no later than the high school graduation date of his or her class. Although Spellman graduated from high school in 2016 and displayed the same qualifications as a qualifier, the NCAA ruled Spellman’s status as an academic redshirt.
The 6-9, 260-pound forward will remain on scholarship and be able to practice with the team. He will not be able to play in any games and will retain four seasons of eligibility.
“It’s a chronological issue, when his four-year clock started,” Wright said back in August when the situation first came up. “There’s a question with that so we gave (the NCA A) all the information and they’re looking into it.”
Spellman attended three schools during his scholastic career. He went North Royalton High School outside of Cleveland, Ohio for two years before transferring to the MacDuffie School in Granby, Massachusetts for his junior year. Spellman then spent his senior year at St. Thomas More School in Oakdale, Conn.
“It’s when his ninthgrade year started,” Wright said in August. “Once you start ninth grade you have four years (of eligibility). It’s when it started. That’s what’s in question and I can’t say anything more than that, but that’s what’s in question. They looked at everything. Academically he’s good. He’s allowed to be on scholarship, it’s that clock.”
The school will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. Friday to discuss the matter.
The decision leaves the defending national champion Wildcats a little thin on the front line. Spellman was ranked No. 18 in the Class of 2016 by ESPN.com and the No. 5 power forward. He was expected to help fill the void created by the graduation of center Daniel Ochefu.
The loss of Spellman leaves Villanova with senior Darryl Reynolds, sophomore Tim Delaney and freshman Dylan Painter as the only active players on the roster 6-8 or taller. The 6-9 Delaney is coming off of double hip surgery. The 6-10 Painter played well during the team’s recent exhibition trip to Spain.