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September 23, 2016

NCAA rules highly-touted Villanova freshman Omari Spellman ineligible

Villanova hasn’t faced much bad news over the last year, but Jay Wright and co. finally got some today. Omari Spellman, the No. 18 basketball recruit in the country according to ESPN, has been ruled ineligible for the 2016-17 season by the NCAA and will take an academic redshirt.

Here is what Jay Wright had to say on the Villanova website:

“We are extremely disappointed for Omari,” stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. “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.”

This is a significant blow. Spellman had a chance to be the very rare ‘Nova player that goes one-and-done, and at 6’9” and 275 pounds, he figured to step into the shoes of departing big man Daniel Ochefu in the middle. He has some serious offensive talent:

The good news is that Darryl Reynolds, who averaged 3.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game a season ago, is a very capable backup with big-game experience from last year’s NCAA Tournament run. If the senior from Philadelphia might not present the same upside as Spellman, all of Villanova’s mainstays are already very comfortable playing with him. When Ochefu was sidelined last season, Reynolds delivered a 19-point, 10-rebound performance on the road at Providence.

This could also open the door for Dylan Painter, a 6’9” freshman from Hershey, to get some more minutes early on in his career.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann