After a successful career at Germantown Academy, where he surpassed Villanova legend Alvin Williams as the program’s all-time leading scorer — even with the COVID-condensed seasons — Longino was ready to begin his career at Villanova and do whatever his role was to help the team.
For a while, it meant taking the back seat to some of the more experienced players on the team, and grinding away in practice to make himself and his teammates better.
Eventually, his hard work later earned him a spot in the rotation towards the end of the season.
While there was plenty of clamoring to see the younger players get minutes, Longino was the only one in his class to really do so.
He got to appear in 26 games, averaging 1.8 points through 8.6 minutes per game. He shot 32.7% on the floor, and 30.8% from long range.
He got to play for 10 or more minutes in 11 different games. Longino’s best showing came in the 78-59 regular season finale win over Butler, where he tallied 10 points, seven boards and one steal through 22 minutes of action.
It was a promising sign that he was starting to put things together on the court, between his athleticism, and his ability to score and provide energy off the bench.
He even got to play in all three Big East Tournament games, including the thriller against UConn, where he chipped in a couple of baskets.
Unfortunately, he sustained a season-ending meniscus injury in practice, just days before the NCAA Tournament began, and he never got to play in the Big Dance. The Wildcats tried to make due with an already short rotation, and his absence hit harder when Justin Moore also got an injury of his own.
He underwent a successful surgery on his knee, missing the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games, but was present on the bench for all other NCAA Tournament games, where he was a hype man for his teammates.
Hopefully, Longino recovers and rehabs well from his injury and is able to get back on track. The freshman-to-sophomore jump is usually a big one for college athletes in their physical development and as they grow further accustomed to the routines and the program after being in it for one full year.
The future is bright for Longino. He showed little glimpses here and there, but when he finally got some extended opportunities late, he was able to contribute some valuable minutes off the bench.
He likely would’ve gotten to play in the NCAA Tournament, and now, he’ll have to wait an extra year for that.
Until then, he’ll likely play a bigger role in the rotation, but it’ll be interesting to see how he evolves as a player and how many more minutes will he earn for himself.
At the same time, Longino was still very much a raw player, but it was promising to see him improve over the course of the season, start to put it together and, ideally, set the stage for an even bigger year two.