Following his first official visit Illinois last weekend, Jalen Brunson will arrive on the Villanova campus on Thursday September 4th for his second official visit. He plans to stay through Saturday September 6th. You could argue that this is the biggest recruiting weekend of the fall, with only Hoops Mania in competition because of the sheer size of the attendee list.
This weekend is different though because of the 1-on-1 aspect of the official visit. Brunson the best point guard in his class, and on paper, the type program-changing recruit that Jay Wright hasn't landed since Scottie Reynolds. You can't pin all your hopes and dreams on one 5-star recruit - we saw how the likes of Dominic Cheek and Maalik Wayns failed to bring glory to the Main Line - but Wright has built a spectacular roster full of hardworking, team-first players, and Brunson fits that framework. The cherry on top is that he'll likely step on campus as the most talented player on the roster.
These are the types of battles that Jay Wright hasn't won in the past, but at the risk of getting us up for a letdown, this time feels different. Brunson grew up in the Philadelphia area, living in Cherry Hill, NJ until 6th grade. His father Rick was about to take an assistant coaching job at his alma mater Temple (making the Owls the favorite to land his son), until a sexual assault charge popped up. Clearly, Philadelphia is a special place to the Brunson family.
There have been reports that suggest Villanova has the inside track at landing Brunson because of his Philly-roots and the strong bond that he's seeking for in a head coach. We know how much Jay Wright preaches about the Villanova Basketball family, so that should be a strong selling point.
The more important tidbit in that interview - Brunson could pull the trigger on one of his five visits.
"If it makes him feel right and he feels it in his bones, he’s going to pull the trigger," Rick said. "I tell him, ‘If you have a place you want to go, name it so you can stop wasting people’s time.’ "
That makes this weekend all the more important. This is Villanova's last shot to make an impression. With targets rapidly falling off the board, Jalen Brunson is likely the last chance to add to the already committed Donte DiVincenzo and Tim Delaney in 2015.
Students, take notice. Hopefully the Augustinian Army has a few things up their sleeve.