Shortly after the 2012-13 college basketball season, the wheels were in motion for changes to Jay Wright's Villanova Coaching Staff.
In April, Raphael Chillious who joined the Wildcat staff a year earlier, made the final list for the Head Coach position at Loyola in Baltimore. GG Smith ultimately won the job as the lead man for the Greyhounds. A month later, Chillious was packing his bags for a return trip to University of Washington where he would be reunited with the Lorenzo Romar on the Huskies' staff.
"Coach Chill" is known as a good recruiter and his connections in the northeastern prep school world were a valuable asset for Villanova recruiting.
Within two weeks of Chillious's departure, Jay Wright found his replacement plucking an assistant from new Big East member Xavier, Ashley Howard.
Although a new name to many 'Nova fans, Cincinnati reporters noted that Howard was one of Wright's finalists for the opening on the staff, previously claimed by Chillious, in 2012.
Howard has strong Philadelphia ties. He played at Drexel from 1999- 2002 and graduated in 2004. He then spent four years under Dr. John Giannini as an assistant at La Salle before taking the same position at Drexel for four seasons under Bruiser Flint. From there, he spent one season on the Xavier bench.
With less than a month before practice officially opening up, Jay Wright's bench appeared to be set. Then the NBA came knocking.
In late September Billy Lange, Wright's longest tenured assistant, was contacted by the Sixers and Houston. After declining a spot as the Rockets' D-League coach, Lange accepted a position on the 76ers bench becoming Wright's newest protege in The League.
Faced with an opening on the staff and not many "free agent" assistants on the market, Coach Wright returned to familiar waters and tapped the shoulder of Kyle Neptune.
Neptune, who played at Lehigh, was the Video Coordinator at Villanova from 2008-2010. From there, he moved to Niagara University where he was been an assistant to coach Joe Mihalich. When Mihalich was announced as the new Head Coach at Hofstra in April, Neptune followed him to the Pride.
Lange's departure also prompted another shift on the bench; Baker Dunleavy was promoted to Associate Head Coach. In that capacity, Dunleavy will assist Wright in on-court teaching, player development, and recruiting. The former Wildcat player joined the staff as a Director of Basketball Operations before being promoted to the bench as an assistant coach. His father Mike Dunleavy, Sr., was the head coach for four NBA franchises.
The upheaval may not be over for the Villanova Coaching Staff. Two weeks ago, Curtis Sumpter who joined Jay Wright's Villanova coaching staff in August 2012 as "Student-Athlete Development Assistant" was rumored to be a main candidate for making a move to the NBA; as a "Player Development Coach/Video Intern" with the Philadelphia 76ers. No media release announcing this move has been issued by 'Nova or the Sixers.
It has been 201 days since Villanova lost to North Carolina in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament, things have changed on the Wildcat bench. What does this mean for Villanova Basketball? Will it cause an impact this season? Will it provide dividends in the future? How does it feel to see Jay's assistants move on to better gigs (Chillious to UW notwithstanding)?