Today the Wizards will host six prospects for the team’s first pre-draft workout: Damian Hollis, F, George Washington, 6’8, 215 lbs.; Dominique Jones, G, South Florida, 6’4, 205 lbs.; Landon Milbourne, F, Maryland, 6’7 205 lbs.; Hamady N’Diaye, C, Rutgers, 6’11, 235 lbs.; Omar Samhan, C, St. Mary’s, 6’11, 265 lbs.; and Donald Sloan, G, Texas A&M, 6’3, 205 lbs.
Samhan might be the most intriguing among the bunch, partially for his skills, partially for his personality. Let’s take a more in depth look…
Omar Samhan exploded on the scene this past March when his 10-seeded Saint Mary’s Gaels upset 7-seed Richmond and 2-seed Villanova to make it to the Sweet Sixteen of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Samhan totaled 61 points in those first two games, but then the Gaels got handled by Baylor 72-49. He finished the game with 15 points and nine rebounds, but only had three points on 1-8 FGs and six rebounds at the half with Baylor already up 46-17.
Samhan is 6’11″ big man with a back to the basket game that can produce points with a number of creative post moves. He’s not known as a good athlete by any means, but did slim down after entering Saint Mary’s out of high school weighing 310 pounds. Most sites currently list him at 265.
Of half-Egyptian and half-Irish descent, Samhan used his tourney performance to magnify his NBA prospects, but almost even more so, to magnify his personality. He was a quote machine who quickly stood out to blogs and MSM outlets alike. My favorite is his advice to Baylor coach Scott Drew before they faced each other, “Make sure your shoes match your belt. That’s important. A lot of people are going to be watching this game. You want to look good. Oh, and make sure you guard me one on one.” Of course, that didn’t exactly work out for Samhan.
Between his blog (omarsamhan50.wordpress.com) and an active Twitter account (@OmarSamhan), Samhan has natural personality, albeit one he needs to keep in check at times, which it seems he’s learned as he’s gotten older — fans of Gonzaga haven’t always thought too highly of his antics.
So will he cut it as an NBA player against much quicker, more talented players? We will see. His performance against the more athletic big men of Baylor hurt his resume, even after his strong performance in the first two rounds, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford. Bill Simmons is infatuated with Samham, saying, “If you feed him the ball within seven feet of the basket, he’s scoring unless Dwight Howard is defending him.” True, low post scorers are a rare treat in the NBA these days, but take when Simmons says with a grain of salt.
In late March, ESPN’s David Thorpe (via Pro Basketball Talk) wrote:
“The upcoming NBA draft workouts will be the first time he’ll see NBA size and talent almost every day, from his pre-draft training to the three or four workouts per week he’ll likely be attending throughout the spring. Some of the smarter teams will schedule an early workout with him, then plan on seeing him again just before the draft. It’s an excellent way to mark progress.”
Well, according to Samhan’s Twitter account, his first workout with the Miami Heat on Tuesday didn’t go so well … at least that’s what he Tweeted at Mark Madsen, who went to the same high school as Samhan. We’ll see how he fares today against Hamady N’Diaye of Rutgers, a good athlete who is pretty raw in terms of basketball skill.
It may not mean what Thorpe indicates that the Wizards are working Samhan out early. But Ernie Grunfeld and company should be intrigued. If Samhan is able to make vast strides in improving his body and quickness for the NBA, he could be a potential candidate for the team’s second round pick. Samhan is not currently listed in either the Draft Express or NBA Draft.net mock drafts.
The seemingly simple ability to pound the ball in the post is an art that’s lost on the Wizards’ roster — you can’t see JaVale McGee or Andray Blatche improving in the area any time soon. And while the team needs an upgrade on the block much greater than Samhan’s potential, it might be time to get some player development in the area in the pipeline.
- Omar Samhan – Draft Express profile
- “Omar Samhan, Saint Mary’s big man, is suddenly a big story” – USA Today