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Monday, June 21, 2010
Saint Mary's center is happy-go-lucky load

By Jeff Caplan

No one enjoyed the NCAA tournament as much as Omar Samhan. The large, 6-foot-11 center ate up the media attention as his underdog Saint Mary's team advanced to the Sweet 16.

In the first two rounds of the tournament, Samhan averaged 30.5 points and shot 75 percent from the field, with almost everything coming in the lane. He destroyed Villanova in the second round to the tune of 32 points on 13-of-16 shooting. His size, production and magetic personality made him an instant media darling.

Omar Samhan
Omar Samhan led the West Coast Conference in scoring (20.9 ppg), rebounding (11.0 rpg) and blocks (94) this season, making him the first player to lead the conference in all three categories since Bill Cartwright at San Francisco in 1978.
In the Sweet 16, though, the Baylor zone shut him down and sent the Gaels home.

The beautiful part of Samhan's game is that he is a traditional center without the modern-day athleticism. He's the rare player today who loves to play in the post. Since losing 40 pounds from his 300-pound frame when he arrived on campus, Samhan has matured and developed an array of post moves. He can use both hands and his work ethic is credited with turning him from an unknown player at a tiny private school in Northern California to having a bona fide shot at playing in the NBA.

Samhan will be in Dallas on Tuesday as one of six players expected to work out for the Mavericks on the final day of workouts.

The Mavs pick 50th in Thursday's draft -- barring making a move up earlier in the second round or into the first round. The Mavs could very well be in need of a center. Brendan Haywood will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and the Mavs will look to trade Erick Dampier and his non-guaranteed, $13 million contract. Dampier could still find his way back to the team, but Dallas will be in need of a backup if Haywood signs elsewhere.

Samhan led the West Coast Conference in scoring (20.9 ppg), rebounding (11.0 rpg) and blocks (94) this season, making him the first player to lead the conference in all three categories since Bill Cartwright at San Francisco in 1978. Samhan was one of just two Division I players to average 20 points and 10 rebounds this season.

But, because he is not as athletically inclined as NBA teams might like, Samhan very well could be waiting around when the Mavs choose at No. 50.