Happy Tuesday Nova Nation! While we continue to imagine what could have been and reflect on the past, I thought it could be fun to think about the future. There’s a lot to be excited for in 2021, but one question has stood out above the rest to me. Who will start in Villanova’s backcourt next to Collin Gillespie next season?
I’m going to limit the conversation to true guards for now, so all of Nova’s wings like Samuels, Slater, Swider, and Bey (who’s probably gone to the NBA) are out. And no offense to Chris Arcidiacono, but it would take a pretty big step forward in his game for him to get into this conversation. That leaves us with Justin Moore, Bryan Antoine, and Caleb Daniels.
I’m also going to limit this to just a conversation about playing the shooting guard role. There’s a whole separate conversation out there about starting three guards and who plays the 6th man that we can get into at a later date. For now, let’s stick with just the one position, and we’ll start with the guy who’s sitting in the pole position.
The rising sophomore absolutely crushed it in his freshman season. He was asked to do a lot, especially fill in as the starting point guard during Gillespie’s preseason injury. He made leaps and bounds throughout the season, earning several Big East rookie of the week awards. In fact, had it not been for his teammate Jeremiah Robinson-Earl winning Big East Rookie of the Year, it would have gone to Moore hands down.
As for the shooting guard position, that’s where Moore started for more than half the season. In the middle of the year he came off the bench as Villanova’s sixth man, but he soon earned the starting role back and was the third leading scorer for the Wildcats. He still has room to grow with his handle and court vision, but he’s already shown great strides as a defender and he’s a natural scorer.
Given that Moore was Villanova’s second most accurate three point shooter behind Bey last season, it’s going to be hard to move him out of the #2 spot he already sits in. He’s had a year to build chemistry with the starting five, and only saw his minutes solidify as he played 35+ in each of the last five games of the season.
Antoine comes off what can only be described as a disappointing yet productive year. The time off from his shoulder surgery was just too much to overcome in the few months he had to get back on the court. However, he did get back on the court. That experience along with his natural talent could springboard him into a huge role for the Wildcats next season.
The 5-star prospect came into the program as one of, if not the, best shooting guards in his class. The countless videos of his high school accolades make it clear that not only is he a gifted shooter but can excel at attacking the basket. With a year of conditioning and lifting on top of his basketball skills, his potential truly has no ceiling. But now comes the hard part, reaching that potential.
I have no doubt Antoine can and will excel for the Wildcats. The question though is if he can beat out Moore for the starting job. They clearly have different styles to them, with Antoine being more about athleticism and finesse while Moore has a toughness and physical nature to his game. Those both fit well in Nova’s system, and we could see the two of them pushing each other to get better on and off the court.
But let’s not forget, there’s a third contender here that could come out of the gates hotter than either of Villanova’s talented sophomores. Redshirt Junior Caleb Daniels averaged 16.9 points per game at Tulane before transferring to Villanova. Yes, the level of competition is much stiffer at this level, but he’s had an entire season of practice with Villanova to get up to that level... that is if he wasn’t there already.
We did get to see Daniels play in the Blue vs White scrimmage at the start of the 2020 season, and at that time he looked like the best player on the court. Yes it’s an early season scrimmage, but let’s not forget the value of experience at the college level. We’re talking about a scoring guard who can play the point and is entering his 4th season at the college level. He may not have been recruited like Moore and Antoine were, but he sure has a leg up when it comes to how long he’s been playing at this level.
Jay Wright values experience, and it wouldn’t be crazy for him to want more experience in his starting lineup. Heck, that’s one of the reasons he gave when he moved Moore to the sixth man role mid-season. We’ll have to wait until we see Daniels in competition to really see how well he’s adjusted to the top tier of college basketball, but I think a lot of Wildcat fans are going to be pleasantly surprised.
We’ve got our three candidates, and as always I’ll leave it to you Nova Nation. Who do you think will be joining Collin Gillespie in Nova’s backcourt when the 2021 season begins?
Who will start at Shooting Guard for Villanova in 2021?
This poll is closed
In other “news”, a few looks back at the ‘85 Championship, Penn Relays are canceled, and more Made Up March Madness. Enjoy!
Villanova Men’s Basketball
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Thirty years ago, Villanova put together a magical run in the NCAA tournament. This is the story told my the coaches, players and those closest to a program that took down vaunted Georgetown in 1985.
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Remembering the1984-85 Villanova Wildcats, the lowest-seeded team ever to win the NCAA Tournament.
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In announcing the decision, the university said it would try to put on a one-day meet in late May or early June.
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The Penn Relays have run uninterrupted for 125 years, but even Philly's landmark track event is being altered by the coronavirus pandemic. By Adam Hermann
Made Up Madness
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March Madness isn’t happening this year, but in an alternate universe, we would be salivating over these 10 potential matchups.
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We played out the 2020 NCAA tournament in our heads after it was canceled by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 172 teams that could have played in March Madness | ESPN
Selection Sunday 2020 will not take place, but these teams were still in play for a bid before conference tourneys and the NCAA tournament were canceled.
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If not for the widespread virus that has shutdown the sports world, Seton Hall was projected to be a third seed in the tournament, its highest since 1993, and Powell expected great things.
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Friar Basketball provides insight into Providence College basketball that you can't find anywhere else. The site takes an honest and insightful look at the current and future state of PC Basketball.
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Two players with New Jersey connections were selected in the Premier Lacrosse League Entry Draft on Monday night.
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Bill Self is on board with the polls deciding this year's national champion
2019-20 CBS Sports All-America teams: Obi Toppin, Markus Howard lead star-studded list | CBSSports.com
Toppin and players from the Big Ten dominated our year-end awards for the sport
Rick Pitino -- 'I deserved to be fired by Louisville' | ESPN
Rick Pitino still maintained that he was innocent of any wrongdoing but took responsibility because he "was the leader." He also said Iona will be his last stop.