Omari Spellman’s decision to stay at Villanova or leave for the NBA could shape the national title picture

The good news for Villanova is that Omari Spellman announced early Tuesday that he's entering the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent, which means he can still return to school if he wants provided he withdraws by the May 30 deadline. So, presumably, until around then, Villanova fans will wait with bated breath because Spellman's decision really could be what determines how next season unfolds.

To be clear, Villanova will be fine regardless.

With a core of Phil Booth, Eric Paschall and Final Four Most Outstanding Player Donte DiVincenzo, assuming he doesn't leave school to pursue a professional career, the Wildcats will have enough talented and experienced pieces to pair with a top-15 recruiting class and win a fifth Big East title in six years. In fact, for whatever it's worth, I have Villanova ranked No. 3 in the CBS Sports Top 25 (and one) without Spellman. So his departure, at least in my opinion, would not keep the Wildcats from competing for a third national title in a four-year span. But what his return could do is make them the favorites to cut nets once again next April. So this up-in-the-air situation qualifies as the most interesting decision any on-the-fence underclassmen will make over the next six weeks.

Which is not to suggest losing Jalen Brunson, the CBS Sports National Player of the Year, and Mikal Bridges, a projected lottery pick, won't hurt. Because of course it'll hurt. But it should be noted that Villanova doesn't have to be as good as it was this season to be the nation's best team next season. All Villanova has to do to be the nation's best team next season is -- follow me here -- be better than everybody else next season. And with Spellman back, on paper, the Wildcats would appear to have the personnel to do it.

So what do I think Spellman should do?

Answer: Whatever he wants.

Which is always my response when it comes to underclassmen and the question of whether they should return to school. My only advice, ever, is that all undecided underclassmen should pursue real information, listen, process the information and be well-informed before they do anything. Then, I think, they should do whatever they want. So that's my advice to Spellman -- who is clearly picking between two good things. His options are to remain in the draft, be selected somewhere and sign a contract worth more money annually than 99 percent of the people reading this earn ... or ... withdraw from the draft and move closer to securing a college degree while competing for All-America honors and a second straight national title alongside a future Hall of Fame coach.

Either decision makes sense to me.

In other words, Spellman will likely be fine no matter what he chooses -- and Villanova will definitely be fine no matter what he chooses. But what he chooses could very well shape the national-title picture. And that's why what he decides should be of interest to college basketball fans from one coast to the other.

CBS Sports Insider

Gary Parrish is an award-winning college basketball columnist and television analyst for CBS Sports who also hosts the highest-rated afternoon drive radio show in Memphis, where he lives with his wife... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories
    24/7 Scores, News, Highlights
    FREE ON ALL YOUR DEVICES