Omar Samhan has always been a man amongst boys. At 6 foot 11 inches, he sticks out even on a college campus. But, as a basketball star for St. Maryâ€™s University, he sticks out even more. And as a Muslim-American now in the national spotlight, there is no ignoring him.
Samhan grew up in San Ramon, CA, only minutes from the St. Maryâ€™s campus. He is the son of an Egyptian father and an Irish mother. And he is also a Muslim student at a Catholic university, not to mention a basketball player with heritage from a country where soccer rules all sports. The paradoxes abound with Omar (not the least of which is his pre-game ritual of listening to the music of teeny-bopper Taylor Swift, as reported to Sports Illustrated!).
But when it comes to his game, everything is straightforward. Draftexpress.com writes, â€œFew players at the college level boast Samhanâ€™s combination of touch and post instincts.â€ NBADraft.net describes him as â€œâ€¦A late bloomer that has shown steady development throughout his college career.â€ The other teams in the NCAA Tournament found this out first hand, as he put up 29 points and 32 points respectively, against higher-seeded Richmond and Villanova. And heâ€™s no slouch on the defensive end either, as he was voted the conferenceâ€™s Defensive Player of the Year.
Omar Samhan will spend the next few weeks helping NBA scouts figure out his pro potential. But Omar, a graduating senior, seems to have already figured out how to accomplish what his fellow Arab-American, radio personality Casey Kasem always preached, â€œKeep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.â€