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The Sun’s Arizin: The Former Player Coach

Which Villanova great would you pick to coach the Wildcats?

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Happy Friday Nova Nation! With Georgetown coming to town winless in conference play, the rumor mill is swirling around the future of their head coach Patrick Ewing. Ewing’s had his high points with the Hoyas, but hasn’t really achieved the level of consistent success that’s expected at a storied program like Georgetown. And he’s not the only former star player turned coach that has found trouble achieving success on the sidelines either. That said, there are a handful of universities where former stars turned coaches have made it work... and maybe Villanova will join them someday.

We all know for a fact that Jay Wright won’t retire until the year 2056 after the most successful run in college basketball history. But when that day does happen, which former Villanova players could step as the successor to Jay Wright? Let’s take a look.

There have already been a number of former players that have coached in some capacity under Wright. If we’re making a true Ewing comparison, the only two GREATs from an accolades and records standpoint for Nova would be Ed Pinckney and Doug West. They both ended their careers in the Top 5 in scoring for Nova, and were the stars of the team during their playing days.

Of course Jay’s current staff has four former players on it. Mike Nardi is the longest tenured of the former players, having been on the staff now for seven seasons. He’s joined by Dwayne Anderson, who spent several years coaching within the Jay Wright tree at Penn State before coming over to Villanova, now in his 4th season. Tim Saunders, a former walk on, is now in his second season as a Graduate Manager. And finally, former point guard Maalik Wayns has joined the team this year in a Student-Athlete Development role.

There have also been a number of other players to flow through Jay Wright’s coaching tree, including Baker Dunleavy, Curtis Sumpter, Darryl Reynolds, Henry Lowe, Brooks Sales, Kris Jenkins, and probably a few others I’m forgetting already. Point is, Jay certainly has given his players opportunities to stay close to basketball and learn what life is like on the other side of the whistle. That much exposure to how Jay runs this program means there will certainly be a number of players qualified to take over when the job opens up.

There are even one or two guys that didn’t coach under Jay, but have joined other coaching staffs in college or the NBA like Jason Fraser or Ross Condon.

Of course you also have plenty of still actives players that could easily decide to pick up a clipboard once their playing days are through. The guys that have been described as “coaches on the court” all come to mind: Arcidiacono, Brunson, Gillespie. You have some of the guys playing overseas that may decide coaching is the next step like James Bell or Daniel Ochefu.

The good news is that unlike Georgetown, a coaching change isn’t something Villanova has to worry about right now. Speculation can be fun, I think we’re all happy to kick that can down the road for a while.

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