For those of you familiar with KenPom, you know that it’s a treasure trove of useful (and not so useful) stats and information. One of the deeper dives you can get into is player comparisons. Based on an elaborate weighting system, the site compares the seasons current players are having to players from previous seasons. It takes into account statistics, measurements, class, and a number of other factors to pinpoint the five seasons of previous players that closest fits what’s happening now.
Since this is the week that will never end and we still have two more days until Villanova Basketball returns, I figured we’d go through the team and take a look at who this year’s players compare to. It’s worth noting that KenPom didn’t start up until 2001, so for those of you looking for a Rick/Jalen Brunson comparison, you’re out of luck. There aren’t comparisons for Phil Booth, Dylan Painter, or Tim Delaney as they haven’t logged enough minutes this season.
Josh Hart is playing like ‘16 Malcolm Brogdon (Virginia)
Let’s see, an AP All-American and conference player of the year who was under-projected by NBA scouts? Yeah, that sounds about right. Brogdon is currently in the conversation for NBA rookie of the year, and last season he was high on the list of POY candidates. He and Hart are both physical guards who can score from anywhere, but also know when to make the smart pass for a better shot. Their defense is impeccable and they rebound like forwards. There isn’t much not to love. Other comparisons include ‘11 David Lighty (Ohio State), ‘11 E’Twaun Moore (Purdue), ‘09 Marcus Thornton (LSU), and ‘12 Jeffery Taylor (Vanderbilt).
Kris Jenkins is playing like ‘11 Corey Stokes (Villanova)
Two of the better spot-up shooters during the Jay Wright era, Jenkins and Stokes both became dual threats later in their careers as they added shot-fakes and dribble penetration to their game. Stokes finished 3rd in the Big East his senior season for 3-pointers made, and Jenkins is currently leading the conference in that category. Both players had been to the Final Four before their senior season, and both played vital roles as leaders in their final seasons. Other comparisons include ‘16 Jordan Loveridge (Utah), ‘12 Bradford Burgess (VCU), ‘07 Frank Young (West Virginia), and ‘13 Trey McKinney Jones (Miami).
Darryl Reynolds is playing like ‘07 Chris Richard (Florida)
Chris Richard was one of the less known, but still vitally important members of Florida’s back-to-back title teams in ‘06 and ‘07. Even though he came off the bench for starters Al Horford and Joakim Noah, he had a vital role as a glue-guy who anchored the defense and shot over 69% from inside the arc. Other than the fact that Reynolds is a starter this year for Nova, those are two very similar stories. Hopefully, they have the same back-to-back ending. Other comparisons include ‘11 Gary McGhee (Pitt), ‘08 Drew Naymick (Michigan State), ‘16 Alex Poythress (Kentucky), and ‘10 Jerome Meyinsse (Virginia).
Jalen Brunson is playing like ‘09 Jimmer Fredette (BYU)
Before breaking out as a nationally known player his junior year, Fredette spent his sophomore season scoring a team second best 16.2 PPG and shooting 38% from 3. That season he also led BYU in assists with 4.1 per game. Brunson is currently second on the team in scoring, shoots 38% from 3, and leads the team with 4.3 assists per game. The only difference is that Brunson could still become a household name this season with another run through the NCAA tournament. Other comparisons include ‘09 Chris Wright (Georgetown), ‘15 Anthony Barber (NC State), ‘12 Justin Cobbs (Cal), and ‘07 Tyrese Rice (Boston College).
Mikal Bridges is playing like ‘15 Josh Hart (Villanova)
Outside of volume, Mikal Bridges is almost playing at the level of ‘17 Josh Hart. Both are averaging double digit scoring, including shooting over 50% from the floor. They’re also both Top 3 in rebounds, assists, and steals per game. Bridges is even shooting a ridiculous 92% from the charity stripe. Hart is still shooting a career best 75.4%, and takes a lot more free throws (88 more attempts to be exact), but all these numbers show why Bridges is already being talked about by NBA scouts. Other comparisons include ‘07 Lee Cummard (BYU), ‘12 Bud Thomas (Mercer), ‘14 Isaiah Williams (Iona), and ‘08 Derrick Brown (Xavier).
Eric Paschall is playing like ‘10 Kevin Jones (West Virginia)
Kevin Jones started to become a dominant offensive force for the 2010 West Virginia team that won the Big East Tournament and went to the Final Four. Just like Nova’s RS Sophomore, he had the body of a linebacker mixed with the athleticism of a guard. Paschall is also starting to show offensive outbursts, including his team leading 19 points in Nova’s last game against Creighton. Although the plan was never to plant Paschall in the paint coming into the year, he’s finally adjusted to the new role as his fouls have come down and his defense has improved. Other comparisons include ‘14 Alex Poythress (Kentucky), ‘16 Mark Donnal (Michigan), ‘07 Mark Egerson (Georgetown), and ‘07 Marcus Landry (Wisconsin).
Donte DiVincenzo is playing like ‘15 Josh Hart (Villanova)
In 2015, Josh Hart came off the bench to lead Villanova in scoring through the Big East Tournament and was named the MOP. Considering that the last time Villanova played at Madison Square Garden DiVincenzo came off the bench to score a team high 19 points, I wouldn’t be surprised if he followed in Hart’s footsteps. But besides that comparison, you’re looking at two freak athletes who play above the rim and will out-hustle anyone else on the court. Also, if KenPom is telling me that this year’s Villanova team has 3 Josh Harts on it, I’m not going to complain. Other comparisons include ‘09 Steven Gray (Gonzaga), ‘15 Keith Frazier (SMU), ‘12 Lenzelle Smith (Ohio State), and ‘13 Justin Martin (Xavier).