When Jay Wright first arrived at Villanova, his first recruiting classes included players like Randy Foye, Jason Fraser and Kyle Lowry - can't-miss prospects that any program in the country would have liked to have. In between then and now, he's still had success on the recruiting trail - Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher, Maalik Wayns - but other than Reynolds, most of his players haven't come in with the fanfare of new commitment Jalen Brunson.
Brunson, considered by some to the best pure point guard in the class of 2015, is the highest-rated prospect to opt for the Main Line since Kyle Lowry. Think about that for a second. Villanova has had some fantastic guards come through campus - Brunson might be the best of them all. Players don't always live up to their hype - Wildcats fans know that all too well. But the potential is mouth-watering for a program looking to reestablish itself in the upper-echelon of college basketball.
In the last two seasons, Jay Wright has built a roster stocked with under-the-radar types that have exceeded expectations. As a cohesive unit they are a very good team, as we were treated to last season. Jalen Brunson, a guy that averaged over 17ppg and 6apg on the tough EYBL circuit this year, is the missing piece. As the lead guard, he'll make it easier for everyone else on the floor to find success. And when the team needs a bucket? Brunson is an accomplished scorer, both with his outside shot and taking the ball to the hoop. Villanova hasn't had that since Scottie Reynolds, who took them to a Final 4.
Unfortunately, Brunson won't step on campus until the summer of 2015. But his verbal should pay dividends prior to that. Good players tend to want to play with other good players. And it definitely helps that Brunson has stated he has every intention of playing all four years at Villanova. It's a litltle late in the 2015 cycle, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see Villanova start to see some momentum in the 2016 cycle as they chase after skilled scorers like Tyus Battle, Rawle Alkins, Lamar Stevens and Omari Spellman. Jay Wright has his point guard of the future - the task now becomes finding equally skilled pieces to play with him.
On the national scale, this helps both Villanova and the Big East in general. Fair or not, the conference's reputation took a hit during realignment, and although results on the court are the ultimate opinion-swayer, the continued success in recruiting means that the conference will at least stay relevant in the conversation. As one of the flagship programs, Villanova just made a statement by taking Brunson from his hometown Big Ten program. Winning a 5-star recruit away from a program that plays in arguably the best conference in the country is a major coup.
But perhaps most impressive of all, and likely the most important for Villanova, is Jay Wright's role in all of this. For the past 10+ years, Wright has developed a strong pipeline in the Northeast, regularly pulling good talent from New York, Philadelphia, and the DMV. Getting out of his geographical comfort zone (yes, Brunson does has Philly ties) and landing Jalen Brunson might signal the start of Villanova becoming more of a national brand. Wright has traditionally struggled going up against the blue-bloods of college basketball, and will almost certainly continue to lose more battles than he wins going forward.
As Villanova continues it's return to glory, and as the Jay Wright brand continues to grow, he should be able to look back on this day and derive the confidence to recruit the best talent across the country. And hopefully, win more games too because of it.
If he can do that, we should get used to seeing Villanova in the Top 10 every year.