When Dylan Ennis transferred to Villanova from Rice in 2012, the fanbase's reaction was probably best characterized as excited confusion. Ennis was an unrated recruit from Canada. Villanova needed forwards, not guards. The last player to transfer in (Taylor King, from Duke) flamed out. I remember thinking that Ennis was an insurance policy in case Ryan Arcidiacono's back problems were worse than reported.
There was no denying his production though. Even in Conference USA, 8.5 ppg and 4.1 apg for a freshman guard was nothing to stick your nose up at. Moreover, his redshirt year at Villanova was filled with reports that he was tearing apart the starting lineup while playing on the scout team. His legend (unfairly) grew.
Everything went according to plan in the Bahamas in 2013 when Ennis burst on to the scene after returning from a fractured hand to play a starring role in the Battle 4 Atlantis title campaign. Things quickly fell apart after that, and save for a couple of games Ennis was a complete liability - especially on offense. Expectations were tempered this preseason. Publicly, I took a wait-and-see approach. Privately, I definitely had my doubts.
After Wednesday night's 15 point, 9 assist performance, let it be heard: I was wrong to doubt you, Dylan.
Let me caveat this by saying that we're seven games in to the season. Dylan Ennis is averaging 12.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg and 3.0 apg. Those are very good numbers, and only look better when you start looking at his shooting percentages. However, at the same point last year Villanova was coming off that Battle 4 Atlantis title. Guess what Ennis was averaging?
12 points per game.
There's plenty of time for Ennis to pull the same disappearing act that drew the ire of Villanova fans last season, but I'm going out on a limb and saying it's not going to happen. Dylan Ennis has been the best player on the Wildcats roster this year and the only thing holding him back from getting more media praise is the same thing holding every Villanova player back - there's so much balance on the team.
Jon Rothstein astutely noted on the La Salle broadcast that Jay Wright hasn't had a guard like Ennis in several years. He can create his own shot, draw defenses in and find the open teammate, and rebound among the trees - he's the total package. Consistency will now be his target.
If he finds it, he'll have a real argument to be considered the best player of the team. We can all agree that everyone doubted that as a possibility this summer. And boy, it sure does feel good to be wrong.