Hometown: Langhorne, Pa.
High School: Neshaminy
Weight: 195 lbs.
Coming off a serious back injury that required surgery in his senior year of high school, we knew not what to expect when Ryan Arcidiacono arrived on the Main Line three years ago. What we got was a hard-nosed player who Jay Wright calls the most competitive he has coached since Kyle Lowry. He has a high basketball IQ, makes great decisions with the ball, and knows when to take over games. Arcidiacono has a knack for hitting clutch shots and his long-range accuracy actually improves during crunch time. As youngBUCK observed last season, "Arcidiacono’s 3-point shooting jumps from 32.5% to a whopping 50% in the last two minutes of close games." Never was his clutch shooting more evident than in his memorable 3-pointers late in wins over then #1 Syracuse at Wells Fargo and #2 Kansas in Atlantis (click the hyperlinks to see the videos of those shots).
Named a captain of the team midway through his freshman year and in the three seasons hence, leadership and a winning attitude are among the many intangibles that make Arch so valuable. He has led Villanova to an impressive 82-22 (.788) record over his three seasons.That compares favorably with other notable three-season stretches for the Cats, including the 74-32 (.698) stretch between 2006-7 and 2008-9 (when Reynolds, Cunningham, Anderson and Redding led Villanova to the Final Four) and the 70-30 (.700) stretch between 2003-4 and 2005-6 (when Foye, Ray, Lowry and Fraser led Villanova to the Elite Eight).
Since setting foot on campus as a freshman, Arch has been remarkably consistent in his scoring, assists, and free throw shooting accuracy. The coaching staff points to the improvement over the years in his footwork and mechanics, and he has become more selective and accurate in his three-point shooting. He looks to penetrate more now than as a freshman, taking one-third more shots from within the arc. Where he really stands out is his ability to protect the ball, averaging only 1.3 turnovers per game (vs. 2.8 as a freshman).
Arch began last season with a wrist injury that hurt his shooting early on. Yet he recovered nicely and was named Big East Co-Player of the Year and first team All-Big East and All Big Five after helping lead the Wildcats to a 33-3 record and acting as the sparkplug of an offense that scored 76.3 points per game. Heading into this season, Arch was named to the preseason All-Big East First Team and the Bob Cousy Award watch list, an honor presented annually to the nation’s top point guard. Freshman teammate, Jalen Brunson, is also on that list.
Arch spent last summer working on his game by playing for a second consecutive year with the Italian National Team. Since returning to campus, he has been going head-to-head with Villanova's point guard of the future (hopefully), Jalen Brunson. Jay Wright recently said, "Arch has been killing [Brunson in practice], just because [Brunson] is learning things that Arch has been doing for years."
Of course, Arch has his critics, who question his quickness and athleticism, his defense and shot selection. They discount any comparison of his record with the earlier periods when Villanova played against tougher competition in the "Old" Big East. Say what you want, but the kid is a winner. As Dean Smith once said, "There is a lot of basketball beyond our control, but a player should never let anyone try harder than he does." Arch never does. He could play on my team any day.
Best Case: Arch and Brunson play beautifully together, creating matchup nightmares for opposing teams. Both create on offense, making their teammates better.When Brunson handles the ball, Arch need not worry about creating his own shot, and his three-point shooting surges.Their combined offensive output offsets any deficiencies they represent as perimeter defenders.
Worst Case: Arch and Brunson compete for the ball and the spotlight.They are unable to get comfortable sharing the point guard role, hurting team chemistry, and their perimeter defense becomes a major weakness that other teams exploit when both are on the floor.Jay is forced to limit their time playing together.
The Wisdom of Crowds Experiment
In our Wisdom of Crowds poll for the 2015-16 season series, we ask you to consider our player preview to supplement your own personal insight and instincts to predict the points per game each player on the roster will score in the upcoming season.