Among the six players who made up the bulk of Villanova’s rotation in 2018, only Jalen Brunson was a key factor in the 2016 championship run while Phil Booth (above) and Mikal Bridges came off the bench and Donte DiVincenzo redshirted after an injury. In essence, Wright won his two championships with two totally different teams.
By Harry Allison
So, the dust has settled on the Main Line mini-drama involving all the national champion Villanova Wildcats who are fleeing for the big bucks of the NBA:
Yesterday, Omari Spellman brought the total to four, adding his name to the NBA draft along with Donte DiVincenzo, Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges.
And just like that, a Villanova machine that would have probably been favored to win it all again is basically starting over with unfamiliar faces and unproven pieces.
So, coach Jay Wright, how are you doing?
So now the roster turns over again with two starters returning (Booth and forward Eric Paschall), along with a couple freshmen who played bit roles last season, an incoming five-star point guard in Jahvon Quinerly and a graduate transfer from Albany in Joe Cremo. Even as it stands now – and, who knows, they may try to add another transfer before it’s all said and done – Villanova will be in the top 10 or 15 of most preseason polls, owed both to the benefit of the doubt Wright now gets and for competing in a Big East that may not be quite as stout as last season.
But meeting those new expectations, year after year no matter how many guys he loses unexpectedly, will be challenge of the new reality Wright now faces.
Maybe this is the time Villanova comes back to the pack. But if Wright can keep this run going with a third roster iteration in four years, it will no longer be an anomaly but rather a new norm with no end in sight.