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Villanova Basketball 2021-22 Player Preview: Brandon Slater

With his unique combination of size, strength, and athleticism, Brandon Slater may be the missing defensive force this Wildcats team needs to make a deep run.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Villanova at Baylor IndyStar-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Slater Career Stats

Season G GS MP FG FGA FG% 2P 2PA 2P% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
Season G GS MP FG FGA FG% 2P 2PA 2P% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2018-19 15 0 3.5 0.1 0.6 22.2% 0.1 0.2 66.7% 0 0.4 0.0% 0 0.1 0.0% 0.4 0.2 0.6 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.5 0.3
2019-20 31 0 11.6 0.6 1.7 37.7% 0.5 1.1 51.5% 0.1 0.6 15.0% 0.2 0.5 40.0% 0.4 0.9 1.3 0.7 0.4 0.2 0.4 1.3 1.6
2020-21 25 2 16.8 1.3 2.7 49.3% 0.9 1.7 53.5% 0.4 1 41.7% 0.7 1.2 60.0% 0.9 1.2 2.2 0.5 0.8 0.2 0.4 1.9 3.8

Brandon Slater

Height: 6-7
Weight: 220
Hometown: Centerville, Va.
High School: Paul VI

Brandon Slater Season Preview

No Wildcat is more tantalizing yet enigmatic than Brandon Slater. Villanova’s Stretch Armstrong swingman is poised for a big role in Jay Wright’s rotation following the departure of NBA-bound big man Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. Without Robinson-Earl, Coach Wright will hope that Slater can play vital minutes on both ends and provide key frontcourt minutes.

However, Brandon Slater’s bona fides remain unknown. In his three seasons as a Wildcat, there isn’t much we can say definitely about Brandon Slater’s game. As a freshman, Slater saw only 52 minutes, all of which came in garbage time. In his sophomore campaign, Slater saw meaningful minutes against weaker non-conference opposition, but rode the bench for the majority of the conference slate.

Finally, as a junior, Jay Wright gave more minutes to his junior big, and we saw glimpses of what his offensive role might be surrounded by Villanova’s veterans.

Across his 421 minutes as a junior, Slater took 88% of his shots either at the rim or from three. Despite shooting just 60.0% from the free throw line, VU’s forward showed competence from beyond the arc, sinking 10 of his 24 threes, good for 41.7%. At the rim, Slater shot a respectable 62.9%, occasionally demonstrating elite athleticism and a knack for getting way above the rim to hammer home dunks.

Where Villanova’s hybrid forward is most tantalizing is on the defensive end. Brandon Slater is strong and very, very long. There are no measurements beyond height and weight for Slater anywhere online, but conservatively Slater has something like a 9-foot wingspan. While it might be sacrilege to say, watching Slater hound ballhandlers and jump passing lanes, especially as he grew more confident at the end of the season, was reminiscent of Mikal Bridges.

There was a point in Mikal Bridges’ final season with the Wildcats when he realized that the ball could be his whenever he wanted it. That realization put Bridges in a whole other universe of dominant, and it propelled him and the Wildcats to their memorable championship run.

That realization has not come yet for Slater, but it might be on its way. About halfway through last season, Slater earned enough minutes to make a real impact and it showed on the defensive end. In his first 14 games, Slater played just 13.3 minutes, tallying four steals and two blocks. In his final 11 games, Slater’s minutes rose to 21.4 per game, and he accumulated 15 steals and four blocks in that period.

Even taking into account his inauspicious start to the season, Slater led the Wildcats in steal rate at 2.7%, a full percentage point better than Jeremiah Robinson-Earl’s second best mark. Among all seven Wildcats who logged more than 400 minutes, Slater was the team leader in Defensive Box Plus/Minus, a stat which measures a player’s contribution to the defense per 100 possessions above average. Slater was becoming a force on the defensive end right before our eyes.

Best Case Scenario: If Slater can carry his weight against bigger defensive assignments and provide at least net-neutral production on the offensive end, the sky’s the limit. VU’s swingman could see himself in a 30-minute per game role and in the closing lineup for the Wildcats, occupying the dunker spot and adding a three-point shot to his arsenal on offense, while switching everything, wrecking havoc, and crashing the boards on the defensive end. With the rest of Villanova’s rotation set in stone, Jay Wright and the Wildcats may need best-case-scenario Slater if they aspire to cut down some nets in March.

Worst Case Scenario: The range of outcomes for Villanova’s rising senior are about as wide as they can be. Slater has to be a net-positive contributor on the defensive end, and if he’s unable to do so he’ll find his way to the bench quickly. Slater’s defensive talent is undeniable, however Jay Wright will likely ask his swingman to guard up a position and anchor the defensive glass. If Slater is unable to give the Wildcats quality minutes down low, he’ll be relegated to a 12-15 minute per game role as a specialized defensive stopper.

Poll

How many points per game will Brandon Slater average this season?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    3.0 or below
    (4 votes)
  • 5%
    3.1-5.0
    (32 votes)
  • 23%
    5.1-7.0
    (128 votes)
  • 44%
    7.1-9.0
    (239 votes)
  • 18%
    9.1-11.0
    (103 votes)
  • 6%
    11.1 or more
    (37 votes)
543 votes total Vote Now