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Villanova Basketball 2019 Player Recap: Brandon Slater

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Freshmen first in our player-by-player season recaps, and we start with Brandon Slater.

NCAA Basketball: Seton Hall at Villanova Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Slater’s Stats

Season G GS MPG FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PTS
Season G GS MPG FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PTS
2018-19 15 0 3.5 2 9 0.222 0 6 0 0 2 0 0.6 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.5 4

The Breakdown

Brandon Slater was the first commit on a talented Villanova Wildcats 2018 recruiting class, which was ranked ninth in the country according to 247 sports. Slater, a four-star prospect hailing from Centerville, Va, brought an exciting blend of athleticism and quickness to the court. With a large amount of roster turnover and a bunch of newcomers entering the scene, there were plenty of questions surrounding the starting five and what the main rotation would look like. Aside from the senior co-captain tandem of Phil Booth and Eric Paschall, everyone’s roles and minutes seemed to move around early in the season, as Jay Wright tried to find the winning combination.

Amid the shuffling of players, it looked like Slater would be the odd man out. He didn’t receive as many minutes as his classmates and as the season unfolded—except for Saddiq Bey—the freshmen would see a drop in overall playing time. Slater played in 15 games, averaging 3.5 minutes per appearance. He played a few minutes in five of Villanova’s first six game, before reappearing in the lopsided win over the UConn Huskies and at various points throughout conference play, as well as the season finale against the Purdue Boilermakers in the NCAA Tournament.

Although his minutes were sporadic in nature, Slater flashed a few glimpses of promising play. This was particularly evident in Villanova’s blowout win over the Seton Hall Pirates on Jan. 27. Slater played an extended nine minutes, and it was the first real look at the freshman playing continuous minutes--at least, outside of the season opener. His athleticism and great lateral quickness on the defensive end was on display. His outing was highlighted by an emphatic dunk and the exclamation point to the dominant day for the ‘Cats with a strong rejection in the final minute of play.

Even throughout the rest of his outings--albeit limited--Slater remained consistent in showing he has the physical tools and ability to be a solid defender down the line.

Looking Ahead

With a year of college basketball experience under his belt and in Jay Wright’s system, Slater should be in the running for more playing time as a sophomore--even with the loaded incoming recruiting class. He can be a contributor on the defensive end--which is always appreciated--and his athleticism and lateral quickness from day one is something that can’t be taught, and it can only elevate from here on out.

Slater will likely have more of a role in the rotation coming off the bench next season. Even though the three-point shot didn’t drop for him this season, it’s something he’s nailed at a solid rate in high school. It may just be an adjustment period in transitioning to a further three-point line and also shooting mechanics that may need some tinkering.

Apart from that, Slater has great length at 6-foot-7, but will continue to bulk up. According to his 247 sports recruiting profile, he was only 180 pounds as a high school senior. His team’s Maxpreps page listed him at 170. Either way, the minutes limit could be a result of not being physically ready for the Division I college basketball level. Mikal Bridges redshirted for that reason. It seems like Slater has gotten to work since arriving at ‘Nova, as the official roster page lists him as 205 pounds.

Regardless, the freshman-to-sophomore transition is such an important one for college athletes, as not only do their bodies develop and mature, but they’re also more comfortable in working within a system and dealing with the rigors that come with the season. Expect Slater to continue bulking up and working to be a better all-around player that can contribute on both ends of the court next season.