Villanova’s three-game exhibition tour of Barcelona and Madrid served a great purpose. It hit the reset button after last season’s National Championship, allowed new faces in the program to bond with their teammate, and got some much-needed game time for several players.
With three wins - two blowouts and one close affair - against Spanish professionals, Villanova proved not only that they’re still the class of the conference entering 2016-17, but the repeat talk is definitely warranted.
Here are three things we learned from watching the ‘Cats in Spain.
Eric Paschall is rusty, but the hype appears warranted
Player redshirting for Villanova is the best player in practice: a tradition unlike any other. Paschall, like Dylan Ennis before him, received plenty of plaudits last season. We got irrationally excited because:
- That’s what we do
- Paschall was the A-10 Rookie of the Year and clearly has the type of physical tools that send guys to the NBA.
Paschall started out sluggish in Spain (8.5 ppg, 6 rpg), and really struggled with his outside shot. His final game was an indication of what he’s capable of. 21 points and 7 rebounds - including a couple of 3s - is the type of production that ‘Nova seeks from it’s wings. Add in Paschall’s versatility to bang inside, and Wright has a really unique talent at his disposal.
Dylan Painter is ready to contribute, if needed
With so much fanfare around 5-star Omari Spellman, Painter got lost in the shuffle a bit. Redshirt talk for the talented but still raw center made sense. But with Spellman’s NCAA eligibility still up in the air, Painter may be required sooner than later.
With Spellman sitting out and Darryl Reynolds nursing an injury in the USA, Painter got plenty of burn in Spain. He made the most of it, showing solid rebounding ability and the ability to finish down low.
Like any other freshman big he’s a work in progress on defense. That will likely end up being the biggest deterrent to his playing time. But if Spellman isn’t cleared early, Painter should be able to spell Reynolds, hold his own through the non-conference schedule, and help win some games.
Josh Hart is headed towards an All-American season
To a man, the players will all tell you Villanova Basketball is team-first, but Hart is the undisputed star of this team. Hart, who impressed scouts at the recent Nike Skills Academy, was utterly dominant in Spain.
The senior wing averaged 22 points and 9 rebounds, and even more impressively did it while shooting 73% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc. His efficiency on offense should allow him to succeed even while being the focus of opposing defenses.
Moreover, Hart just looked the part. We could have forgiven some tired legs after a busy summer including the NBA Combine and Nike Skills Academy. But he looked bigger, bouncier, and more confident than previous iterations. The Buddy Hield comparisions are still crazy, but Hart looks ready to go out with a bang.