Caleb Daniels’ first season with the Wildcats - much like our own lives at this point - can be divided into the pre-Covid and post-Covid portion. Following December 23rd’s game against Marquette, the ‘Cats were forced into a Covid pause due to Caleb Daniels and Jermaine Samuels testing positive for the virus. At the time, Daniels was averaging 12.5 points and shooting 43% from deep.
When the ‘Cats emerged from their lockdown and hit the floor again on January 19, Daniels was a different player. The rest of the way Daniels averaged just under 8 points per game and shot a streaky 35% from downtown. While dividing a season into even smaller sample sizes is risky, it appears fair to say that the Covid pause had an impact as Daniels tried to establish himself consistently in his new system.
Despite the inconsistencies, Daniels proved to be a valuable part of Jay’s rotation. His strongest performance came against St. John’s in late February were he scored 17 points on 4-6 from three. Prior to coming down with Covid, Daniels scored 17 points in a loss to Virginia Tech and dropped 19 in a thumping of St. Joe’s.
Collin Gillespie delivers a nice pass to a cutting Caleb Daniels, who throws down a dunk in the Villanova @ Creighton game.— Matthew Ryan (@MatthewRyan247) February 15, 2021
(Via “Matthew Loves Basketball” on @YouTube)@Colling1021@c_cd21 pic.twitter.com/CbMctuVOFR
Unfortunately for Daniels, he did lead the team in personal fouls with 70 - 12 more than Jermaine Samuels’ 58. Anyone who watched Villanova this season knows that a large chunk of those were offensive fouls stemming from Daniels’ bad habit of bulldozing his defender with a lowered shoulder or an outstretched forearm.
As we all know, next year Villanova will have an extremely crowded roster. Daniels, barring the unexpected, will be in the running to solidify himself as a starter for Jay Wright’s squad but will have a number of players coming up behind him looking to poach his minutes. That being said, Daniels has the tools to establish himself as a solid and reliable cog in Jay’s system. If he can cut down his mistakes - specifically on the offensive end - and get back to his early-2021 form, Daniels looks to be in for a nice year with a ‘Cats squad capable of nabbing another Final Four.