A few short months ago, back in the midst of March Madness, the name Omar Samhan was the talk of the NCAA tournament’s first weekend after scoring a tourney record 61 points and leading his St. Mary’s Gaels teammates onto their first ever Sweet 16 appearance. Even though the Gaels’ Cinderella run was abruptly put to an end by eventual Final Four participant Baylor, Samhan undoubtedly made a good impression on NBA scouts, as he was invited to play for the Dallas Mavericks’ Vegas Summer League team.
Although he only played in 4 games, Samhan definitely played well by averaging 10.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and just over 1 block per contest. Because of an underwhelming amount of athleticism, the 6‘11 and 265 lb Center knew he would have to have a good showing in Vegas to make an NBA roster. Unfortunately because of a logjam on the Mavericks front-court with the likes of newly re-signed Brendan Haywood, freshly traded for Tyson Chandler, Alex Ajinca, and Ian Mahimni, Dallas was unable to offer the jovial big man a guaranteed contract. And even though a number of other NBA squads offered an invite to their regular season training camp, Omar chose to take a sure thing, and play for Zalgris Kaunas in Lithuania next season.
Mavs coach Don Nelson, who still has a number of European contacts, helped broker a two year guaranteed deal for Samhan, with a buy-out after the first year if an NBA team comes calling. Omar will obviously have to work on his conditioning and defensive prowess while overseas, despite having some of the best low post footwork of any player leaving the college ranks. Samhan averaged a team high 21.3 ppg, 10.9 rebs, 2.9 blocks, while shooting 55 % from the field in helping to lead St Mary’s to their 3rd straight 25+ win season and a surprising West Coast Conference crown over perennial conference powerhouse Gonzaga Bulldogs.
In addition to his impressive skills on the court, Omar has a bit of comic relief in him as he has continuously proven to be a ham in front of the camera. Seemingly during each and every interview he always shows off his great personality by throwing out hilarious one-liners or comedic outakes like when he decided to be a PR man for his St Mary’s club prior to their tourney match-up against Baylor. And lets not forget the time he decided to show of his defensive skills by guarding an unsuspecting woman in an arcade.
Keep your head up Omar. I have no doubt that you have the offensive skills to be a good NBA player. Just play the game and hone your skills in Europe. Surely we’ll see you in the National Basketball Association soon enough.
Check out some highlights from his senior season at St Mary’s:
Allen Moll has been a lifelong NBA and NCAA College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously, and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen also provides content to Bleacherreport.com, Upperdeckblog.com, in addition to being a tenured NBA and NCAA columnist for TheHoopDoctors.com.