Villanova Wildcats head coach Jay Wright isn't against the one-and-dones (hi Mohamed Bamba!) that seem to flock to the likes to Kentucky, Duke and Kansas every year, but he's not made them a priority when recruiting. So how has Villanova won more games than any other program during the last three seasons when the narrative would have you believe you need that type of player to win?
Development. Wright has stacked his roster full of blue-chip prospects and invests the time and effort to turn them into great college basketball players that buy in to the team concept on the Main Line. And because of that, he always seems to have a deep and talented roster every season without really ever having to replenish with impact players.
That has a lot of people claiming that next year's Wildcats team may be even better than the team that just won the National Championship. It's way to early to say that - especially after Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins announced they have declared for the NBA Draft. But we expect both to be back, meaning the 'Cats will be loaded once again. And don't look now but they're actually getting their due in the early Top 25s for next season!
- ESPN has Villanova #2
- The Big Lead has Villanova #2
- SB Nation has Villanova #3
- CBS Sports has Villanova #3
- USA TODAY has Villanova #3
- NBC Sports has Villanova #3
Here are your per-game stats from this season - we included only scholarship players (sorry #BenchMob!) to keep this tight.
Replacing Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu is going to be tough,. but there's reason to believe Villanova will be fine once they get some experience. Jalen Brunson is the ideal replacement for Arch with a similar floor demeanor, ability to set the table and the willingness to make the big play and Phil Booth should step seamlessly into the starting lineup after his career night in Houston reminded us all what he is capable of.
Ochefu is the bigger concern - his defensive presence allowed Villanova to extend and pressure and there is not an ideal replacement for him defensively. Omari Spellman may make up for the offense lost (and then some) and Darryl Reynolds should be solid once again. There's tons of depth with Tim Delaney and Dylan Painter in the frontcourt for the first time in a while too. But this is the area to keep an eye on, especially defensively, early on.
You've also got a healthy Donte DiVincenzo returning. He showed flashes of all that he brings to the table early this year and he's an exciting prospect that should immediately jump back in to the rotation on the wing.
And we still haven't even hit on Paschall - a 6'7" 260 pound freak athlete who can score at all three levels and averaged 15.9/5.5/1.0 on his way to Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Year honors two seasons ago at Fordham. He may not replicate or exceed that line, but for comparison's sake, that's somewhere around Hart and Jenkins from an impact level, and that's damn good.
So yes, there are question marks, but there's a lot more to like with next season's team. That's why they're deservedly ranked as a Top 5 team by just about everyone.