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Where does Villanova Basketball’s Jalen Brunson rank among the last 25 AP Players of the Year?

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It’s certainly higher than #25

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Happy Tuesday Nova Nation! Get ready for another “What Grinds My Gears”-esque rant this morning. In the articles below, you’ll notice a ranking of the last 25 AP Player of the Year winners. Of course that list includes Villanova’s own Jalen Brunson, who won the award in 2018 before leading the Wildcats to his second National Championship.

Brunson is widely regarded as one of the greatest guards to play for Villanova, and his production and leadership in 2018 won him the only AP Player of the Year award in the school’s history. And yet with all he accomplished in that season, he was ranked dead last on this list.

To make a long story short, while they acknowledge Brunson’s offensive efficiency and production, the article knocks him for his defense and rebounding. “Not only did Brunson lack strength on the boards, having one of the lowest rebounding percentages on the team, he also was perhaps the weakest defender in the Wildcats’ regular rotation.” The article goes on to say, “It is easy to point to Villanova’s loaded roster as the main reason for Brunson scoring average, which sits well below the 20+ points per game that most of the AP Players of the Year boast. However, his teammates did not make him a poor defender or rebounder.”

Let’s start with the rebounding. First off, this is an award for all positions, and not once do I see any of the forwards getting knocked for not having good assist numbers. But even so, the whole argument is that Brunson had the lowest rebounding percentage on the team. Please tell me why you would knock Brunson for finishing with fewer rebounds than Omari Spellman, Eric Paschall, Mikal Bridges, and Donte DiVincenzo? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe I just named four NBA players who were selected in no small part because of their ability to rebound.

If there is a criticism of Brunson, it’s his defense in 2018. However, I wouldn’t characterize it as “poor” or “weak” by any stretch. Brunson played within a system that finished as the 11th most efficient defense per KenPom.com. Yes his personal defensive metrics were lower than the rest of the team, but it’s hard to use individual defensive metrics against a player when they’re in a system that’s not designed for them to be a lock-down defender. While I think this is a harsh criticism and purely a reach to justify the #25 ranking, it’s not completely unfounded.

What I don’t get is the glancing over his offensive numbers. If there’s one knock on his offense, it’s that many of these other players averaged a lot more points per game. And that’s fair, Brunson isn’t in the Kevin Durant level of scorers. But his efficiency numbers were. Brunson ranked Top-10 among the 25 AP POYs in 2PFG%, 3PFG%, FT%, and assists per game. While he was one of just eight players to win the award while averaging under 20 points (18.9 PPG), he did finish Top 10 in total points thanks to the NCAA Tournament run.

I’m not going to sit here and say that Brunson is one of the Top 5 greatest college players of the last quarter-century, but he certainly deserves a higher ranking than dead last. That concludes my rant, so here are some other fun facts I picked out from this list:

  • Brunson (2018) is one of only three players on the list that won the National Championship in the same season as POY. He’s joined by Anthony Davis (Kentucky, 2012) and Shane Battier (Duke, 2001).
  • Only two players won the award while playing in the Big East in the last 25 years. Brunson and Doug McDermott (Creighton, 2014). Xavier’s David West won the award in 2003, well before joining the Big East.
  • Villanova is 1-4 against the players on this list in the years they won the award. They lost twice to Doug McDermott and Creighton in 2014, they lost to Jameer Nelson and St. Joe’s in 2004, and they lost to Shane Battier at Duke in 2001. Their lone win over the eventual POY was in 2007 at the Wells Fargo Center against Kevin Durant and Texas.

In other “news”, Kyle Lowry has to sit out the World Cup, Eric Paschall and his teammates had a blast at rookie orientation, and the NCAA quickly undid their latest blunder. Enjoy!

Villanova Basketball

Myrtle Beach Invitational Tickets go on sale on this week | ESPN Events
Early-bird all-session tickets for the #MBI19 will go on sale this Thursday (8/15).

Cincinnati, Villanova, UNC, Kentucky Highlight OSU Basketball Schedule | The-Ozone
In non-conference play, Holtmann’s Buckeyes also will host Villanova in The Gavitt Games, a matchup of Big Ten and Big East teams. That game will be played Nov. 13 at Value City Arena.

Recruiting

Evans' Takeaways: Cunningham, Green shine at Nike Skills | Go AZ Cats
The Nike Skills Academy hosted over 30 of the best high school prospects in America over the weekend, running the group through instructional drills during the morning session and games to end the night.

NBA Wildcats

Ranking the last 25 AP Player of the Year award winners | Busting Brackets
Every year in NCAA basketball, a different player is named AP Player of the Year. How do the last 25 players to receive this honor rank against each other? What do you think about Jalen Brunson's ranking?

Who Will Represent Team USA In The FIBA World Cup? | SLAM
Kyle Lowry, who has yet to be medically cleared to return from a thumb injury, was expected to make the team but he opted to sit out in order to preserve his health.

Kyle Lowry withdraws from Team USA | NBA.com
Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, who has been working to recover from right thumb surgery, has withdrawn from participation with the U.S. Men's National Team.

Milwaukee Bucks' 5 Most Important Bench Players | Forbes
The Milwaukee Bucks have one of the deepest benches in the entire NBA, and will look for help from these five players.

Bol Bol has hilarious reaction to Warriors rookies dancing at photoshoot | NBCS Bay Area
Clearly, not everyone was feeling themselves quite as much as Warriors' rookies Eric Paschall and Jordan Poole on Sunday.

Villanova Football

College GameDay Predictions: Ranking Best Chances for an FCS Game in 2019 | HERO Sports
ESPN College GameDay hasn't visited an FCS game in two of the last three seasons.

NFL Wildcats

Gridiron Digest: Patriots Reloaded and Ready to Dominate (Again) | Bleacher Report
There's an old saying that goes, "You aren't being paranoid if everyone really is plotting against you." Also, Tanoh Kpassagnon is impressing at Chiefs camp. Shout out to khlayav for finding this one!

Chiefs DE Tanoh Kpassagnon shows improvement in preseason opener | Chiefs Wire
Tanoh Kpassagnon is entering his third season with the Chiefs hoping to prove his value in the new Spagnuolo led defense.

MLB Wildcats

Pro Baseball Local Recap: Hunter Schryver throws scoreless inning in pro return to home state | Local Sports | cumberlink.com
The Cumberland Valley/Villanova grad tossed a scoreless inning with three strikeouts and a walk in front of friends and family in his only appearance of the series Saturday.

Villanova Adjacent

Where we’ll be eating this fall: A look ahead at new restaurants in the Philly area | The Inquirer
Refectory: A 200-seat American grill-restaurant developed by Greg Dodge (Zavino, Tredici) at the Commons on Villanova University’s campus (Lancaster and Ithan Avenues).

College Basketball

NCAA amends agent certification requirements | NCAA.org
We are committed to providing student-athletes who are deciding whether to stay in school or explore NBA draft options with access to a wide array of resources to make their decision.

NCAA reverses course, changes stipulation in 'Rich Paul Rule' so that agents no longer need a bachelor's degree | CBSSports.com
It took less than a week for public backlash, and feedback from professional agents, to get the NCAA to flip

On Paper NCAA Opposes Sports Betting. Should It Continue To? | Sports Handle
What's the best way for NCAA to monetize sports betting? Casino logos on jerseys would be a bad look, but there are other options.

Just 25, Alex Kline has used his meteoric rise from Philly recruiting guru to NBA scout to give back | The Inquirer
Twice named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list, the New Jersey native has turned his local all-star game benefit into a sports symposium that raises money for cancer research. His mother, Mary, died of brain cancer when Alex was 10.