It took a while, but Villanova has opened up the gates of it's 2013 men's basketball recruiting class with the verbal commitment of DMV star forward Kris Jenkins. In an interview with ZagsBlog, Jenkins said that his next order of business is to help line up some more recruits to join him on the Main Line.
"Right now, my concentration is to try to get Josh Hart to commit and go to Villanova as well," the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Jenkins told SNY.tv Sunday afternoon. "Young guys like Ja'Quan Newton and whoever else Villanova is recruiting from this area as well."
Jay Wright clearly has had his sights set on battling for Maryland, Virginia and D.C. area talents recently. The attempted hire of Doug Martin as an assistant coach was designed to tap into a talent pool in that region that is expected to be very strong in the coming years. With Martin's tenure being so short-lived, however, the Wildcats will have to hit the DMV recruiting trail a little bit harder now.
Having Jenkins talking about Villanova to other players may be enough to salvage some of what was lost when Martin resigned.
So who is next? With point guard presumably locked up for 2013 (barring a Harrison Twins miracle), adding players who can play off the ball will be a priority for the Wildcats.
Josh Hart seems to be a strong presence on the Wildcats' radar for 2013. The 6-5 swingman from Sidwell Friends and Team Takeover would add one of the better shooting wing players to a Villanova line-up that has had more than a few question marks in that category. Hart is a consensus 4-star, top-100 player who is projected to play and contribute at the high-major level.
Hart prefers to play shooting guard in college, but is would probably see time at small forward for the Wildcats as well. He has already announced that he will visit Villanova's campus on an official visit on Tuesday (through Thursday) and has also said he will visit Memphis, Arizona, Miami and Rutgers.
Another 2013 prospect that has been high on Villanova is Allerik Freeman, a wing from North Carolina who will play at Findlay Prep in Nevada this fall. He has scheduled four official visits this fall, including a visit to Villanova on September 28th. He will also visit UCLA and Ohio State next month and Duke on October 19th.
Freeman is a shooting guard with enough size to spend time at the 3 for Villanova and the ball-handling skill to play as a combo-guard as well. He is great at attacking the rim and taking defenders off the dribble, and can knock down shots from the perimeter as well -- he is a true elite talent who is expected to shine at the next level.
It isn't clear where Villanova stands with Freeman, however. The 'Cats were in on his recruitment early and at one point he had narrowed his list to either Villanova or Kansas, then Duke came into the picture and his recruitment opened up again. That he intends to make Villanova one of his official visits, however, at least shows that Jay Wright's staff has stayed on his mind in this process, but he doesn't appear to be in a hurry to make a decision.
Freeman has already taken at least one unofficial visit to Villanova at this point, but he hasn't publicly stated a timeline for his commitment. Hart, meanwhile, intends to commit before his high school season starts, which means that he will commit by early-November at the very latest -- but possibly sooner.
Of those two, Hart seems the most likely to be the next 2013 player to pull the trigger for the Wildcats. However, the Wildcats will also need to add some height and bulk in the post with Mouph Yarou and Mo Sutton using up their eligibility this season, so don't be surprised to see a push for another big in the coming weeks either. Tyler Roberson remains on the board and the Wildcats have shown much interest in Chinoso Obokoh, a 6-9 center from New York as well as 6-9 Kyle Washington out of The Hotchkiss School in Connecticut.
The Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron, are also slated to take an official visit to Villanova this fall, though the date for that is unknown.
As for Jenkins, the combo forward has enough strength to play power forward, but his height makes him seem more like a guy who needs to live on the perimeter. In many ways, his situation is similar to JayVaughn Pinkston, who (listed) at 6-6, seemed like a guy who should have been playing small forward or guard, but has been able to transition his game to the perimeter. Jenkins appears poised to follow that developmental path, which will allow him to play on the wing in a more traditional offense or battle with opposing power forwards in the post when the 'Cats decide to go "small."
Jenkins has been described by his high school coach as a point-forward, who has good court vision and passing skills from the wing and the post. He also has range on his shot out to the three-point line. If his conditioning and ball-handling are strong in college, he will be a nightmare to match-up with.