Villanova basketball is back and this season they are looking to pick up where they left off.
This year’s reigning NCAA champs are back with many familiar and new faces filling up the roster. With three returning starters Villanova will be a preseason NCAA championship favorite.
Seniors Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins both withdrew from the NBA Draft and will be back for their senior year. An athletic scoring wing who can drive and shoot as well as play defense, Hart could be one of the nation’s best this year. Do not be surprised if you see his name in Wooden Award contention this spring.
Jenkins, the man who hit the biggest shot in program history will also be back for one more year. Expect his shooting to return where it was last year when he shot 45% from the field and 38% from three. Look for these two seniors to become leaders for the team on and off the floor.
Sophomore Jalen Brunson will look to make a leap this season. Brunson is an athletic combo guard who can drive and hit an open shot. He played second fiddle to senior Ryan Arcidiacono last season, but with Arci gone it’s now time for Brunson to run the offense. Expect him to work on his three-point shot, and showcase his point guard skills in a much more prominent role for the cats this season.
The departure of Daniel Ochefu will leave a void that needs to be filled underneath the hoop. Villanova hoped that freshman Omari Spellman, a 6-foot 9 PF/C from Ohio would fill that void, but he was ruled ineligible for the 2016-17 season because he did not complete his initial eligibility requirements in time. Head coach Jay Wright said in a statement:
“We are extremely disappointed for Omari, while we don’t agree with the NCAA’s decision, we are members of the association and respect it. We understand why the NCAA felt it had to rule this way”
Spellman will be an academic red shirt this season, but still have four seasons of eligibility left. Scoring inside when the three pointer does not fall will be a struggle for Nova this season and opponents will look to exploit their poor interior defense.
Games to Watch
- 12/3/16 Saint Joseph’s (Home)
- 12/10/16 Notre Dame (Neutral Site)
- 1/4/17 @ Butler
- 1/29/17 Virginia (Home)
Worst Case Scenario: Villanova cruises through the regular season despite lacking an inside presence. Makes tournament as a high seed, but relies too much on the three-pointer and gets bounced in the second round. Something we have all seen far too many times, and proves last season’s success was just a flash in the pan.
Best Case Scenario: Nova rolls through non-conference and Big East Play, earning a high seed. Hart shines, becoming one of the best players in the country. Brunson takes next step as legitimate point guard while the other guards drain threes. Villanova wins another championship.