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All-area basketball MVP Sean O'Mara worked to become one of the best

Xavier recruit helped lead Benet to first state appearance since 1983 this season

LISLE – The best basketball players are never content with their skills.

The best are always working to improve in some way. Based on that criteria alone, Sean O’Mara is one of the best.

The senior center was already bigger than most players when he walked through the doors at Benet as a freshman, but it was his willingness to work and improve that turned him into a Division I player who is heading to Xavier in the fall. It’s his improvement that makes him the Suburban Life all-area team MVP.

“He’s a very skilled big man,” said Benet head coach Gene Heidkamp, who knows something about skilled big men after coaching current Wisconsin standout Frank Kaminsky at Benet. “Obviously he’s got the size, but he’s also very unselfish and he’s a great passer. He has the ability to make everyone around him better.”

There aren’t many big men who are better passers than O’Mara. It’s a skill he developed out of necessity (to combat double- and triple-teams in the post) and because it’s an invaluable tool for a post player to have.

“I developed it, but I’ve had it for a little while and it’s been a really nice part of my game, I think,” O’Mara said. “My teammates really appreciate it as well because they know if the ball goes in the post it’s not a black hole, it’s going to come back out. You watch the game, it’s not like I’m lacking touches. My teammates know when I get the ball, good things are going to happen. Either I’m going to score, or I’ll get it back to them.”

Of course, O’Mara didn’t land a college scholarship just because he’s a good passer.

He has the strength to battle against the double-teams opponents typically throw at him. He possesses a variety of post moves which he can use to get to the rim. He can lower his shoulder and power to the hoop, or he can use his footwork to shake defenders and create space for an easier finish. He has also flashed an ability to hit jump shots from just outside the paint, another sign of his progression as a player.

“I’m a completely different player now,” O’Mara said. “When I walked in the door at Benet, I was big, I was strong and I was able to kind of move people around, but that was eighth graders. I was going against 18-year olds, they’re men. To be able to go in and play against guys that were that physically capable in the game and also that skilled, it wasn’t like playing football [where you could just be physical], you had to be physical and skilled.”

Benet has a lineage of good big men, from O’Mara back to Kaminsky back to players who took the floor prior to Heidkamp’s tenure. Even with that history, O’Mara may go down as the best. Prior to the start of the playoffs he was averaging a double-double (23 points and 13 rebounds per game). Heading into Tuesday’s supersectional playoff game, he was at a program-leading 1,638 points and counting.

“He’s improved a lot during his career,” Heidkamp said. “One thing you can say about Sean is he’s improved every aspect of his game every year.”

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