Expectations for Villanova basketball were low entering 2012-13, there was no preseason ranking and commentators tempered their statements about a young Wildcat team that had lost its top two scorers from the previous season. The baby-Cats grew up in January and February, however, and a Big East effort that gave them a few big time upset wins was enough to send a team that nobody expected to be good back to the NCAA tournament for the 8th time in Jay Wright's 11 years on the Main Line.
Heading into 2013-14, however, expectations are back on the rise and Nova will be expected to win again in the new Big East. USA Today ranked next year's Wildcats (even lacking frontcourt depth) #17 in the country earlier this week, for example. Today, Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis gave the Wildcats a nod at #24 in his early 2013-14 top-25.
The Wildcats will enter the season with two of the best players at their position in the newfangled Big East -- sophomore point guard Ryan Arcidiacono and junior forward JayVaughn Pinkston. Freshman Kris Jenkins, a 6-6 forward from Washington, D.C., will have a chance to crack the starting lineup.
While it's more likely that Jenkins will play a key role off the bench, don't think it's impossible for the DC Prep star to make a strong case to play at the small forward spot next year. His shooting skills have been heralded by the Washington D.C. press, and despite having a body reminiscent of a freshman JayVaughn Pinkston, he is an athletic prospect who has shooting range out to the perimeter. He averaged 18.3 points and 10.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game as a senior and was named Gatorade Player of the Year for DC the past two seasons.
Villanova was joined in Davis' list by fellow new Big East schools, Marquette (9) and Georgetown (12). The American Athletic Conference (what a mouthful) similarly has three schools included on the list for next season, Louisville (4), Memphis (6), and UConn (25).