The most heralded recruit in what many say was the best haul in school history, Dominic Cheek joined a crowded veteran back court on the mainline and found ways to be a solid contributor for the Cats in his freshmen season.
A rarity in present day college basketball, the McDonald's All-American put his team and his long term development ahead of instant playing time and big statistics. This is the same kid that, on national television, shredded the 2009 NBA Rookie of the Year in a duel where he dropped 20 in the first half alone.
That said, Cheek has the ability to take a big step and if Villanova has aspirations of playing deep into March this year, he needs to be ready for the expanded role and the responsibility that comes with being an everyday rotation player in the Big East.
More on Dom Cheek after The Jump
While easy to categorize Cheek as part of the long tradition of Villanova guards, it is important to note that unlike many of them, he has the potential to develop into a complete player with no glaring weaknesses and excellent NBA prospects. With great size (6'5 with wingspan and improved strength), a fundamentally strong jump shot and excellent instincts on both sides of the court, Cheek is versatile enough to play effectively at all three non post positions and defend them with ease.
Last year Dom had his big moments (career high 17 against Rutgers and most notably to this author, the tear drop he sunk against Louisville in Freedom Hall and this facial on a top 5 NBA pick) but most of his contributions were less noticeable (lock down defender off the bench, high rebounding rate). I expect one day when he is being interviewed about his NBA draft status, he will credit the year of tutelage and practice behind Scottie Reynolds and the others as the most important part of his transition from high school offensive dynamo to complete basketball player.
Fittingly, this year he will be one of the players looked at to shoulder the offensive void left by Reynolds. Spending most of the off-season under the radar, the quiet Cheek should be a solid rotation player from day 1 this year and has the ability to play his way into the starting lineup. Although not as experienced as Corey Stokes, he is a better defender and a more dynamic scorer, with ability to get to his spots as opposed to being a one dimensional shooter (props to Cheek's talent; to Stokes' credit this is an area he improved at last year). He provides unique depth and whether it is coming sometime this year or down the road, there will be a day when Dom Cheek will be the featured scorer in this offense
What Wildcat fans need to recognize is that Cheek easily could have gone to a lesser D1 school (think Mike Rosario at Rutgers) and been the go to guy from day 1. His contributions last year did not go unnoticed and were a big reason the team was able to survive the suspension of a team captain for the first semester. Make no mistake about it, the comparisons to this recent EMBA grad are realistic if his development continues.