Nova's Omari Spellman cleared by NCAA to practice, not play

Villanova freshman Omari Spellman is cleared to practice with the defending national champion Wildcats but cannot yet compete in games, coach Jay Wright said on Monday.

Wright said the issue has to do with Spellman's high school career, specifically "when his ninth grade year started.'' Per the NCAA, Spellman has been cleared academically to enroll at school, is OK to compete with the Wildcats and even on Monday participated in a summer scrimmage prior to Villanova's 10-day trip Spain. He cannot, however, take part in competitive games and therefore will not play on the team's visit to Barcelona and Madrid.

"Once you start [high school] you have four years to complete it,'' said Wright, who said he could not go into great detail about the situation. "When they started counting his four years, that's what's at question.''

The Ohio-born Spellman, who was rated 16th in his class, started his high school career in suburban Cleveland before spending his junior year at the MacDuffie School in Massachusetts and his senior season at St. Thomas More in Connecticut.

Wright, who added that this is not an amateurism issue, said that he has been working in conjunction with the NCAA for some time on the issue and hopes to have a resolution soon.

"He's good for school. He's good for practice,'' the coach said. "Competition is the last piece.''