Dallas Mavericks: Villanova Wildcats
First-round draft pick Dominique Jones was also a big attraction and Harvard point guard Jeremy Lin drew a crowd as he tries to become the first American-born Asian player to make it in the NBA.
However, one of the more intriguing players to watch during the five-game Summer League (Friday-July 18) will be 6-foot-11 Omar Samhan. The charismatic traditional center doesn't possess great athleticism and despite averaging 30.5 points on 75 percent shooting against Richmond and Villanova in the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament, teams still weren't biting in the draft.
He averaged 23.1 points and 10.9 rebounds during his senior season in which he led Saint Mary's to its first Sweet 16.
"After the draft, I was super disappointed. I was pissed off; thought I should have got drafted, didn't, and I have something to prove," Samhan said. "The next day I get a Facebook message from [Mark] Cuban. He's like, 'What are you doing? Do you want to come to Dallas.' I said I'd love to."
Samhan is tall, but his 265-pound physique isn't exactly revealing of his strength. Ask about his qualities in terms of making it in the NBA and you get answers as if asking about a blind date that your buddy knows has a great personality, but, well, might fall somewhere south of a 10.
"First and foremost, great attitude, great attitude about basketball, about life," Mavs player development coach and summer league head coach Monte Mathis said. "He's an energetic guy, he's a gym rat, he loves to be on the court, he loves to be coached. You never have to kick him in the butt to get him going because he's always got an energy about himself."
And now for the actual basketball skills part: "But, he can shoot the ball. He's got skills for a big guy and I think he's going to be fun to watch, also, during summer league."
Fun and entertaining. Samhan wears a thin beard that outlines his face that always seems to be in smile mode. But, he knows how to work. He lost 50 pounds during his time at Saint Mary's and developed his skills to the point where he went from basically unrecruited to becoming a dominant low-post scorer. He is intriguing because he does play a traditional center, back-to-the-basket game, but he doesn't have the athleticism that could doom his hopes of playing in the NBA.
He also knows the Mavs' center position is in flux. Brendan Haywood is an unrestricted free agent and Erick Dampier is on the trading block. As far as Samhan is concerned, anything can happen.
"I complement someone like Dirk a lot because he's more of an outside 4 [power forward], doesn’t bang as much, so I kind of do the dirty work and he can score. It's a good tradeoff," Samhan said. "Obviously, I've got to climb a lot. It's a challenge I think is doable. It's a tough spot, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. So, I just got to gut it out and hope Cuban believes in me, hope Donnie Nelson believes in me the way I believe in them."
Samhan should see plenty of playing time in Vegas. The only other center on the roster is 7-foot-4 Moussa Seck, a 220-pound developomental player the Mavs have been working with for a couple of years.
The Mavericks pick 50th in Thursday's draft. Five more prospects hit the American Airlines Center practice gym today:
Marquis Gilstrap, 6-7, 215, Iowa State
Notes: Averaged 14.9 points and 9.3 rebounds as a senior. His potential remains untapped because he's played just two full seasons in the last four years. He suffered a broken leg at Palm Springs CC, moved on to Gulf Coast CC and finally to Iowa State. He played mostly power forward for the Cyclones, but his size likely will be an issue at that spot at the next level.
Landry Fields, 6-7, 210, Stanford
Notes: In first year to really showcase his full arsenal, the senior averaged 22.0 points and 8.8 rebounds, plus 2.8 assists and 1.6 steals as a senior. He was an inside/outside mismatch in college. He has excellent length which scouts assert could help him defensively, but his size makes him a classic 'tweener in the NBA. His perimeter game is strong and he could make his mark as a small forward.
Tyler Smith, 6-7, 210, Tennessee
Notes: Averaged 11.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in a shortened senior year after deciding to return to Tennessee instead of turning pro overseas. He is long and quick at small forward and could be a pesky defender in the NBA. He's hoping to overcome an awful decision on New Year's Day when he and three teammates were pulled over speeding. He was charged with possession of a firearm. All four players were suspended from the team following their arrests, and only Smith, a preseason All-American, was dismissed from the team.
Matt Bouldin, 6-5, 214, Gonzaga
Notes: The West Coast Conference player of the year averaged 15.6 points and 4.0 assists as a senior. He started all 33 games last year and 118 in four seasons. He has excellent size to go with his court vision and was just the latest terrific point guard to come through Gonazaga, but the jury is out whether he'll make it at the next level.
Scottie Reynolds, 6-2, 195, Villanova
Notes: Averaged 18.2 points and 3.2 assists and shot 38.5 percent from beyond the 3-point arc as a senior. The Wildcats plummeted at the end of the season and his leadership ability took some knocks. The same concerns that that kept his draft stock low a year ago remain: His low assists totals scare teams as a point guard and he's undersized to play shooting guard in the NBA.
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