Hometown: Lincolnshire, IL
High School: Adlai Stevenson
Height: 6' 2"
For those unfamiliar with Jalen Brunson, he's good, like really good. He was considered a 5-star recruit, ranking as a top 20 national player, and considered by many to be the best point guard in his class. His NBA pedigree (his dad, Rick Brunson played in the league for 9 years) and accolades (Illinois Mr. Basketball of 2015, 2-time Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year, FIBA MVP, etc.) speak for themselves. However, Brunson still exceeds your expectations once you see him play.
He is an extremely cerebral player with a great natural feel for the game, and is equally capable as a play-maker for his teammates as well as a scorer. This uncanny ability is largely why he was awarded the MVP for the FIBA U19 Championships this past summer, as he led team USA to the Gold Medal. He was named the Big East's Preseason Rookie of the Year, and is currently being projected by Draft Express to be a first round draft pick in next year's NBA Draft.
Even with a talented and deep backcourt, Brunson appears poised to play major minutes (possibly even start) and contribute immediately. His addition to the backcourt should give a huge boost to an already potent Wildcat team. His presence will allow Arcidiacono and Booth to both play off the ball more and help offset the scoring lost to Hilliard & Pinkston's graduation. Overall, Jalen fits the mold of a prototypical guard, and only time will tell if he can go down in history as another all-time great guard to come through the Main Line. Perhaps the biggest question for Brunson should not be if he will be successful in his VIllanova career, but how long will his career last?
Best Case: Brunson's hype proves to be well-warranted, as he contributes immediately. He is unanimously named the Big East Rookie of the Year, as his impact on the team is immense. His winning attitude and great play helps the 'Cats finally make the leap past the round of the 32, and playing deep into March. Despite the success, Brunson decides to stay for at least one more season, so that he can be a lottery pick after his sophomore season.
Worst Case: Brunson plays well, but not well enough to be awarded the Big East Rookie of the year award, as he is outplayed by fellow highly touted freshman Henry Ellenson of Marquette. The team makes no significant progress in the postseason either, as another promising regular season campaign once again stalls with an early 2nd round exit.
The Wisdom of Crowds Returns
For all of those unfamiliar with Wisdom of Crowds, this is an experiment we first tried several seasons ago, where we poll the readers to ask how many points readers think each player will average over the course of the season. Since it would probably be unrealistic to expect Jalen to have a similar stat line to his senior year of high school, in which he averaged 23.5 points per game. For reference, here are the season scoring averages of several other notable 'Nova guards during their freshmen seasons:
Ryan Arcidiacono: 11.9
Kyle Lowry: 7.5
Corey Fisher: 9.1
Randy Foye: 10.3
Scottie Reynolds: 14.8
Maalik Wayns: 6.8