Hometown: South Orange, N.J.
High School: Saint Peter’s Prep
Mark Armstrong player preview:
The Philadelphia Eagles recently made headlines when their Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay toted the nickname "The Batmans" for their talented wide receiver corps. His explanation of the nickname was that all three of the receivers were Batmans and there were no sidekicks. The same can be said about this incoming freshman class at Villanova. The talented trio of Mark Armstrong, Brendan Hausen and Cam Whitmore are all extremely talented in their own way. On Monday, we took a look at the Amarillo Assassin, Brendan Hausen (which if you missed that article, you can find it here) but today the spotlight is being put on talented combo guard Mark Armstrong.
Armstrong will be coming into Villanova after an outstanding career at Saint Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, New Jersey. The 2022 Hudson County Interscholastic Player of the Year set a St. Peter’s Prep program record with 1,776 career points, while averaging 23.4 points, 5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. Armstrong played in 92 career games with the Marauders and finished as the 61st overall prospect in ESPN’s Top 100 Rankings for the Class of 2022.
A lot has been made of Cam Whitmore’s athleticism and bounce coming into Villanova, but Mark Armstrong is right up there with him when it comes to explosiveness. Check out this absolutely unreal highlight from his senior year:
Armstrong’s athleticism and ability to finish at the rim is just at the surface of his bag of tricks. This three-level scorer has a confident stroke from beyond the arc as well as a deadly mid-range pull-up jumper. Armstrong’s willingness to facilitate the offense and move the ball around while on the move is impressive for someone who did not play the traditional point guard role in high school.
What sets Mark Armstrong apart from the rest of the incoming freshman across the country is his tenacious and strong defense. Armstrong may already be one of the best, if not the best, on-ball and perimeter defenders on the team and he has not even suited up for opening night yet. His unreal athleticism and quickness give him outstanding lateral movement and his high IQ and motor allow him to anticipate passing lanes and force opposing offenses to make mistakes. Pairing Armstrong’s ever-surging strength (thanks, ShackFit) with his explosiveness and athleticism is going to be nightmare fuel for opposing coaches to gameplan for.
The Best Case Scenario: It is hard to find holes in his game. With injuries to Caleb Daniels, Cam Whitmore and Justin Moore, Armstrong can potentially be a day one starter. The absolute best-case scenario is if Armstrong can put all of the facets of his game together and contribute quality minutes as a primary ball handler and defender. This would allow the Wildcats to ease Justin Moore back into the rotation when he is fully healthy rather than having to rush him and risk the consequences. Having Armstrong come off the bench when Moore is back will provide Kyle Neptune with one of the most premium sixth men in the country.
The Worst Case Scenario: Armstrong has all the tools in his game to take over a starting role or a major role on this team from day one, but maybe it takes him time to put it together and carve out a role on this team. One of the concerns about him however is his slight frame.
At 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, Armstrong plays much stronger than his build, but it may take him a little bit longer to adjust to the most physical conference in the country. Rebounding and post defense, especially on switches could be tough for him from the start. If teams start planning to exploit his size or lack of familiarity in understanding concepts, then it could push Armstrong to the bench earlier than expected.
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