TOP 5 TEAM PREVIEWS: #2 VILLANOVA WILDCATS


NOVA PIC

 

Last Season’s Record: (35-5) National Champions

Head Coach: Jay Wright (Entering 16th season as Villanova’s Head Coach)

 

Key Departures:

RYAN ARCIDIACONO (Guard)

DANIEL OCHEFU (Forward/Center)

 

Key Newcomers: 

(#’s next to players name indicates national ranking)

#22:OMARI SPELLMAN (PF): INELIGIBLE

DYLAN PAINTER (PF/C)

ERIC PASCHELL: Transfer from Fordham

 

Key Returning players:

JOSH HART (Guard)

KRIS JENKINS (Forward)

JALEN BRUNSON (Guard)

PHIL BOOTH (Guard)

MIKAL BRIDGES (Guard)

 

TEAM OVERVIEW

After years of having very good teams but falling short of their team goals, the Wildcats went on a run for the ages last season. It culminated with a thrilling, buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Kris Jenkins in the National Championship game over North Carolina. Can the Wildcats repeat as National Champions? All the ingredients are there for them to do so.  

While the loss of 4 year starter Arcidiacano and Ochefu will hurt, Villanova got great news when star guard Josh Hart decided to wait on the NBA and return for his senior year. Hart will be on many analysts pre-season All-American teams and with good reason. He averaged 15.5pts, 6.8reb, and 1.9ast per game. Expect Hart to improve on those averages and become even a better player.

jay wright

Head Coach Jay Wright

Jalen Brunson (9.6pts, 2.5ast, 1.8reb) will take over the PG duties full-time. The 6’3″ former McDonald’s All-American played very well as a freshmen and the Wildcats shouldn’t miss a beat with him running the show for Jay Wright’s squad. Phil Booth should continue to improve. He has a lot of promise and will gain extra minutes on the floor. He has the capability to be a nice 2-way player. 6’7″ sophomore guard Mikal Bridges is another player Wright is high on. He is coming off a solid freshmen campaign in which he averaged 6.4pts, and 3.2reb.

The 6’6″ Jenkins will forever be immortalized at the Pennsylvania school. He tested the NBA waters, however he made the right decision to come back. The senior averaged 13.6 points per game and can score inside and outside. Jenkins and Hart will form perhaps the best 1-2 combo in the Big East conference.

Wright went on the recruiting trail and landed an excellent front-court talent in Omari Spellman. The 6’9″, 285 pound PF from Connecticut is a top 25 recruit in the class of 2016 and a 5 star player. Spellman got bad news in September as he was ruled ineligible and will not play in 2016-17. However, talented 6’7″ F Eric Paschall is eligible after transferring from Fordham. Paschall will help the Wildcats inside as he averaged 16pts and 5.5reb in 2014-15. He was named the A-10 Rookie of the Year as well.

FINAL 4 IF

There is a ton of talent on this years version of the Villanova Wildcats. For years, they were the hunter. Now they will be the hunted and will be getting every team’s best performance. The Big East is a very good conference. Xavier, Seton Hall, Butler, and others will be looking to dethrone the Wildcats and become the Big East’s premier team.

nova arena pic

“The Pavilion” arena on Villanova’s campus

It looks like Villanova will still be a guard heavy, perimeter oriented team. There is a ton of talent at the guard and wing positions. This is the style of play they have used for years and it has worked for them.

While the loss of the steady Arcidiacano will be missed, Jalen Brunson is perhaps more talented. He should be more than ready to run the Wildcat’s offense. The return of Jenkins and Hart provide the veteran leadership necessary to compete on a night in basis. They are proven and are 2 of the best players in the Big East. Hart will be a National Player of the Year candidate.

Jay Wright has done a marvelous job during his 15 year tenure at Villanova University. He has turned down multiple NBA head coaching offers to stay at Villanova. He is one of the top coaches in college basketball. The weight of finally winning a national championship is off his back.

 The staple of guards on this roster rivals anybody’s in college basketball. If the front-court can provide solid production, Villanova will have another outstanding team with a good shot of making another Final 4 and national championship game appearance.

 

 

 

 

 

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