Last night, 4-star wing Brandon Slater committed to Villanova. That’s done a lot to ease the growing concern over a slow start* to the recruiting season, and should provide some positive momentum going forward.
*In reality, this wasn’t a slow start. And Slater has been ready to commit for a month! That’s crootin’, y’all.
Slater’s verbal not only brings a versatitle, highly-ranked player with loads of upside into the fold, but it checks a major position of need. Going forward, Jay Wright and his staff can now focus their efforts on finding players to compliment Slater.
Here’s what we expect to see from Villanova going into the summer.
The search for a point guard
The consensus would have you believe that Jalen Brunson is about to play his final season for Villanova. Phil Booth is also set to graduate, and while he has a 5th year available we probably shouldn’t count on him being back either.
Wright is bringing Collin Gillespie in this year so the cupboard isn’t bare, but the available playing time is clear to recruits and it’s no surprise Villanova has been in the thick of it with several elite prospects.
With Prentiss Hubb committing to Notre Dame, expect the full court press on Jahvon Quinerly going into the fall. Quinerly has been clear on his desire to take visits and commit before his senior season gets started, so this one has a ways to go. But he looks like the clear #1 target, and as of now most in the industry think Villanova leads.
Keep an eye on David Duke and Elijah Weaver as well. Both are point guards by trade, but can play off the ball as well. That versatility could make them enticing prospects for ‘Nova, but a ready-made replacement for Jalen Brunson looks like the current desire.
Looking to replicate the Josh Hart/Kris Jenkins combo?
It’s no secret that Jay likes to load up on versatile players, so I’m not ready to say that Brandon Slater’s commitment rules out Duke, Weaver or a player like A.J. Reeves. I do think, however, that they’ll target a shooter to compliment the slashing game of Slater.
I would venture a guess that it makes Cole Swider a priority. Swider is down to 8 schools, and is looking to decide sooner than later. He’s had great things to say about Jay Wright and ‘Nova, so getting another visit would be a great sign in his recruitment.
The last time the ‘Cats brought in a pair on the wing with these complimentary skillsets, it worked out pretty well.
It’s been a while since Villanova has been this loaded in the frontcourt, and the staff doesn’t look to be slowing down. The hype around Omari Spellman is real, and while I’m not ready to say he’ll be gone after a year, it would be foolish to dismiss the possibility that we only get one year out of him.
5-star Jalen Smith is a vastly different player, but he’s the lone inside player that Wright is targeting at this point. He also looks like he could be the next ‘Nova target to decide. He was recently at Villanova (again) for an unofficial visit recently and has scheduled an official visit to Maryland in June. He might take a few other OVs before a decision, but he appears to be accelerating his recruitment. Maryland is rightly the favorite, but perhaps Brandon Slater’s verbal can help bring Smith to Philadelphia and make the mystical package deal a reality.
Also interesting was Jeff Goodman’s report last night that former target Juwan Durham may visit Villanova soon. Durham is transferring from UConn and has some injury baggage, but it’s not a bad insurance policy if the ‘Cats miss on Smith and want more bodies in addition to Dylan Painter and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree.