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Villanova Basketball 2021-22 Player Recap: Brandon Slater

With consistent minutes and an expanded role, Brandon Slater got a chance to shine and showed us all his two-way talent.

Villanova v Kansas Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Brandon Slater’s Career Stats

Season G GS MP FG FGA FG% 2P 2PA 2P% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
Season G GS MP FG FGA FG% 2P 2PA 2P% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2018-19 15 0 3.5 0.1 0.6 22.2% 0.1 0.2 66.7% 0 0.4 0.0% 0 0.1 0.0% 0.4 0.2 0.6 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.5 0.3
2019-20 31 0 11.6 0.6 1.7 37.7% 0.5 1.1 51.5% 0.1 0.6 15.0% 0.2 0.5 40.0% 0.4 0.9 1.3 0.7 0.4 0.2 0.4 1.3 1.6
2020-21 25 2 16.8 1.3 2.7 49.3% 0.9 1.7 53.5% 0.4 1 41.7% 0.7 1.2 60.0% 0.9 1.2 2.2 0.5 0.8 0.2 0.4 1.9 3.8
2021-22 38 38 30.1 2.8 5.9 47.8% 1.9 3.2 59.3% 0.9 2.7 33.7% 1.9 2.2 88.1% 0.9 2.8 3.7 1.6 1.1 0.3 1.3 2.6 8.5

The Breakdown

Prior to the 2021-22 season, Brandon Slater had never played more than 31 minutes a game or scored more than 13 points in any of his previous 71 games in a Villanova uniform. Like many before him, Slater came into the program with enormous potential and jaw-dropping athletic gifts, but his game needed to be honed and refined to fit the Villanova brand. With a void at forward left by the departure of NBA-bound Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, coach Jay Wright looked to Slater to take on more minutes and responsibility. Villanova’s senior forward was up to the task.

Brandon Slater compiled career highs in every counting stat, more than doubling his previous scoring average and upping his minutes played to 30.1 from just 16.8 the previous season. Slater became a more efficient scorer despite seeing a minor downtick in FG% on the strength of his 2P% and his much improved FT%, which was second on the team to only Collin Gillespie at 88.1%. As a result, Slater led the entire Villanova roster in true shooting percentage, which measures shooting efficiency while taking into account 2-point and 3-point shots, as well as free throws.

However, Slater’s biggest contribution was on the defensive end, where the Wildcats always matched up their rangy forward against the opposition’s best scorer. Regardless of whether it was a crafty guard or bruising forward, Slater took the primary defensive assignment for the Wildcats and always gave excellent effort. With the stats available it’s a challenge to quantify Slater’s impact, but Sports-Reference credits Slater as the team leader in STL%, Defensive Win Shares, and Defensive Box Plus-Minus.

Looking Ahead

Brandon Slater confirmed he would be returning to Villanova in late April and that’s very good news for the Wildcats. Any five-man unit with Slater will be defensively up to the challenge, and with Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels departing, in addition to Justin Moore set to miss all or most of the 2022-23 season, the Wildcats will take all the proven scoring and playmaking they can get.

Slater, for his part, will now have one final season to put it all together. Although Slater set career highs in nearly everything this past season, Villanova’s swing wing went through long stretches at various points in the season where he lost confidence in one or more aspects of his game. Over a seven game stretch in January at the start of Big East play, Slater shot just 21.1% from the floor and 16.7% from three, averaging 2.9 points. From the back-end of the Big East regular season through the Big East Tournament and the NCAA Tournament, Slater averaged just 4.7 points per game and scored in double-digits just once in that nine game stretch. While he acquitted himself well in the Final Four matchup against Kansas, Slater must find more consistent scoring in the 2022-23 season.

The good news for Brandon Slater and Wildcats fans alike is that Villanova’s to-be super senior has all the tools he needs to excel as a 12+ points per game scorer. After starting the season red-hot from three, Slater mostly lost confidence in his three point shot, but his mechanics are there to be a 37%+ shooter from deep given his excellent form and consistency from the free throw line.

Inside the arc, Villanova’s swingman has a difficult-to-contain first step and NBA-level explosiveness. Slater shot a team high 64.8% at the rim and took more than 40.6% of his shots there, indicating that when he gets all the way to the bucket, he’s difficult to stop. Moreover, Villanova’s explosive wing has the strength and size to get to the line and convert as he racked up the second best Free Throw Rate on the team behind only Jermaine Samuels.

Still, there are some obstacles Slater will need to overcome if he wants to become a consistent scorer. When his outside shot isn’t falling, Slater becomes overly predictable with his up-fake to left handed drive. Villanova’s forward will need to tighten up his dribble and demonstrate he can become comfortable going right off the bounce. Given how successfully Wildcat players accelerate their growth when given the opportunity, we should expect Slater to return next season with a new bag of tricks and the confidence needed to excel on the offensive end.

With his burgeoning offensive game and his stellar defensive instincts, its not unfair to pencil Slater in as a candidate for the Julius Erving Award (aka, the Villanova forward award, as we’ve won it more than anybody else). If all goes to plan, Slater could be hearing his name called next year at the NBA Draft.