The Eye Test: Freshman Awards

I love Campus Corner. Even 8 years after graduation, my wife and I will swing by every now and then when we don’t feel like making dinner. But last week I made what can only be described as a rookie mistake. I forgot it was Freshman move in day. I couldn’t get a parking spot. I couldn’t get a booth. I could barely get service!

As I stood in a sea of the newest members of the Nova Nation, I overheard a lot of stories of highschool. It got me thinking about my last days of high school and I remembered how in our yearbooks they always had a section of Most Likely To. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at this year’s new faces (red shirts included) and what they’re most likely to do.

Most Likely To Succeed: Jalen Brunson

The Brunson hype train kept on rolling when it was announced that he’d be wearing the same jersey number as former Villanova freshman great Scottie Reynolds. The media, the fans, and the coaches have a lot riding on this kid who still hasn’t played a minute of meaningful college basketball. But one thing Jay has always been good at is putting his star players in a position to be successful. Whether it off the bench or (more likely) starting, Brunson will be given as much help as possible to live up to the hype. Personally, I think this kid is everything he’s cracked up to be.

Most Likely To Exceed Expectations: Donte DiVincenzo

Remember 2 years ago when we saw a freshman Josh Hart wow us with his athleticism? We all said, "If this kid can polish his game, he’s going to be great!" Get ready for some déjà vu. While Donte projects more as a 2 than a 3, he can drive the lane, put up the three, and handle the ball. While he may not get a ton of playing time as he adjusts to the speed and physicality of the college game, don’t be surprised if he starts earning some minutes in Big East play.

Most Likely To Impact the Defense: Mikal Bridges

The first time I saw Bridges in person, my immediate reaction was "Those are the longest arms I’ve ever seen on a human being". It’s ridiculous. Offensively, he’ll need some more meat on his bones before his slashing offensive game becomes truly dangerous. But defensively, his length and quickness will be an immediate asset. Bridges is going to become one of those guys that can guard any position on the floor, but will do best against 3’s and 4’s. As Chris Lane pointed out in today’s Sun’s Arizin (which if you don’t read daily, start immediately!) he’s also going to be a huge asset in the 1-2-2 press. Last year when we recruited him, an ESPN writer said he’d be one of the top 10 seniors in basketball in four years. I believe him.

Most Likely To Surprise On Offense: Tim Delaney

Tim was recruited to be a big, rugged, tough guy down low and bolster our somewhat small front court this season. So from reading the analysis and prepping for this article, I assumed I’d see a few power moves, some dominating man defense, and a whole lot of blocks. But when I started watching tape, I saw that Delaney will bring a much more polished offensive game with him as well. It’ll take some time as he adjusts from playing against teenagers to the big boys of the Big East, but I think that transition won’t take as long as we suspected.

Most Likely To Lead the Practice Team in Scoring: Eric Paschall

Everything I just said about DiVincenzo goes double for Paschall because he’s already proven he can do it at the collegiate level. Unfortunately he’ll be red shirting this season, but that just means he’ll be pushing our starters hard in practice. Paschall is a high energy guy, and while he might be on the end of the bench, I expect we’ll see that energy infect the players around him. That’s the fancy way of saying we’ve got a new dancer for the pre-game circle.

The Eye Test is a stat-free look at all things Villanova Basketball. Thanks for reading and leave your comments below!

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