Welcome to our 2011 Villanova basketball season preview. We're going to be previewing a player per day from here on out - which will take us right up to the first exhibition game against New York Tech. Today, we preview incoming freshman Darrun Hilliard.
Many scouts considered Darrun Hilliard to be a complimentary piece of the Villanova Wildcats 2011 basketball recruiting class. Rated a 3-star prospect by both Rivals & ESPN and just a 2-star prospect by Scout, Hilliard was very much an afterthought compared to his 3 classmates.
The early reports from camp are that the recruiting services severely misjudged Hilliard's game. In fact, he was one of the standout performers during Villanova's trip to Europe this summer.
The 6'5" 185 lb. guard/forward from Bethlehem, PA brings a versatile game to the Main Line. He isn't spectacular in any aspect of the game, but he doesn't have any glaring weaknesses either. This should allow him to step into action quickly and help a young team attempt to re-define itself.
More on 'Money' after The Jump.
We've got a southpaw! We've got a southpaw! To quote the great Bill Raftery, "I don't know what it is about the lefty's, Verne, but they make it look so pretty!"
Hilliard starred at Liberty High School and was a two-time AP All-State selection and finished second on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,413 points. He averaged 19.7 points per game in his senior year (highlights at the bottom of the post).
Hilliard has gotten the most press out of all the freshman during preseason camp so far - and even garnered a starting spot for the trip to Europe. His ability to handle the ball isn't at the level of an elite D1 point guard like Maalik Wayns, but he's serviceable at the position should Wayns or Ty Johnson get into foul trouble.
Hilliard's biggest asset is a high basketball IQ. As Jay Wright has said, he just seems to get what the coaches are saying to him. Even more, he gets it the first time they say it to him, so his learning curve is shrinking compared to the other freshman. That's something that will get him on the court quicker.
The biggest knock against his game is that athletically, he's a step below the normal player that Villanova recruits. I don't know that it is necessarily a bad thing though. This is a young team we have this. Very talented, but young. And that means there will be a lot of mistakes as the players learn to play with each other. Having a smart player probably outweighs an athletic specimen for 'Nova entering the season. Enter Money.
What are your thoughts and expectations for Darrun Hilliard this season?
When we're back tomorrow, we'll continue cycling through the freshmen when we preview Ty Johnson.
Previous player previews: