by John Fanta
FOX Sports College basketball writer
Editor’s Note: John Fanta counts down the top 15 college basketball teams at regular intervals until the start of the 2022-23 season. Check-in at number 14 is Villanova.
What does life hold after Jay Wright men’s basketball at Villanova? It’s one of the biggest questions in the sport entering the 2022-23 campaign.
It’s also a question none of us would have imagined asking at this time a year ago. But Wright’s decision to retire, which was announced on April 20 and sent shock waves across the country, was the start of an unparalleled season for the Wildcats.
Jay Wright’s shocking retirement from Villanova
Mark Titus and Tate Fraser react after two-time National Champion Jay Wright announced his retirement in April.
Yes, Vilanova stayed in the family by hiring Kyle Neptune, who spent eight years as Wright’s assistant before taking over as head coach at Fordham for a season. Neptune has no plans to reinvent the wheel, and its goal is to keep the Wildcats ahead of the sport.
However, Wright has taken Villanova and elevated him to the rank of blue-blooded over the past decade, with the National Championships in 2016 and 2018, and a third trip to the Final Four in six NCAA tournaments this past April. The Cats have been the gold standard in the Big East, winning at least a regular season conference or championship title every season since the league was reshaped in 2013.
Of course, Wright, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021, is the main reason for Vilanova’s appearance, but can the wildcats maintain his formula without him?
The pieces are still in place until Villanova becomes one of the best pieces in the country once again. While Colin Gillespie And the Jermaine Samuels They’re gone, and the Wildcats have returned four high-impact players, as well as the country’s 21st recruiting class according to 247 Sports.
Admittedly, the Wildcats get some benefit from the doubt to be included here because, over the past nine years, they’ve won more than any other college basketball program with a record…get this… 264-53.
Let’s break down the list and start with the first story of the Villanova season.
The big question: When? Justin Moore I’ll come back?
If Moore is healthy as the season approaches, Villanova could have status as a top-10 pre-season team and a Big East favorite. But on the night of March 26, Moore’s career, and the Wildcats’ hopes for the national title and next season took a major turn for the worse when he suffered a ruptured right Achilles tendon in the final regional win. Houston.
Before that injury occurred, Moore was seen as a potential star man for Vilanova next season, and he was poised to lead the backcourt in the post-Gilspie era. With an average of 14.8 points, 4.8 plates, and 2.3 assists per game last season, Moore was likely the first all-mid-season pick up and a potential candidate for Conference Player of the Year.
His prestige makes Villanova’s upcoming season even more interesting as well as the change in leadership. Neptune and his staff are hoping the 6-foot-4 Ranger will be back sometime in January, but with something as big as an Achilles injury, it’s hard to predict a specific timeline, let alone how much spring Moore will have when he’s not back in Earth. But, if he can come back and stand out, he would be a huge plus – almost as much as the mid-season trading deadline move – and could change Villanova’s already strong March cap for the better.
There may not be a single player who can influence the late season race – nor what the Wildcats seem – more than the star guard, which makes the questions surrounding his comeback very relevant.
Who is back?
Entering his sixth year in college basketball, goalkeeper Caleb Daniels He is the Wildcats’ leading scorer in return. With Moore out, a 6-foot-4-foot guard from New Orleans to be Villanova’s backyard captain, that’s been the focus of Neptune and his staff this summer. Daniels will need to take his game to another level after averaging 10.3 points versus 42% in shooting last season. He demonstrated his ability to perform on the big stage at the NCAA Championship, collecting 25 points and 11 rebounds in the Elite Eight (a win over Houston) and the Final Four (a loss to the National Champion). kansas), Straight.
Elsewhere in the back area, look for a sophomore guard Jordan Longino To take up a growing role this season. He averaged just 8.8 minutes per game over 26 competitions before injuring his knee prior to the NCAA Championships, but the Wildcats will need him for a bigger role. There is a strong possibility that it will start.
Wild cats also have Chris Arsidikono – Younger brother of Villanova legend Ryan Arsidicono – is back for his first season, and will serve on the bench.
On the wing, Vilanova has one of the most versatile players in the Big East in Year 5 Brandon Slater. The 6-foot-8 striker really brings solidity to the Wildcats and will be counted on to do so again. Slater averaged nearly 30 minutes per game last season, scoring 8.5 points and 3.7 plates per game. In matches in which he scored more than 10 points, Vilanova led 11-3.
Brandon Slater throws monster jam
Watch Villanova’s Brandon Slater fly hard for a big immersion against the Providence Friars last season.
In the front yard, 6 feet 8 juniors Eric Dixon It was one of the biggest surprises in the Big East last season, proving that he could take five positions for the wildcats and climb multiple times during the 30-8 season. Dixon started all 38 games, scoring 9.1 points and 6.4 plates per game while converting 50% of his shots. His distinguished year led him to win the Philadelphia Top Five Player of the Year award. Dixon will once again keep things indoors, and he’s more than capable of being one of the best big guys in the convention once again.
One of the main questions for the Wildcats is their sophomores, simply because they didn’t get many opportunities to play last season. A pair of 6-foot-9 strikers, Trey Patterson And the Nnana Ngokuis a reserveDr make your eyes on. Angelo Preziwho was late to kindergarten last season, will serve in a backup role.
Who’s new on the list?
The Wildcats didn’t do anything at the transfer gate, which is unusual for their program. Vilanova’s success began with bringing in players who would stay for three or four years, develop and potentially make their way to the NBA. The program has made eight draft picks since 2017. Instead of looking at quick fixes in the gate, the Wildcats have mostly succeeded by developing from within.
That means freshmen don’t usually play the hard minutes, but with Moore out and two veteran pairs losing, the door is open for the Top 25 recruiting class to get some chances.
The main name in the new trio is 6-foot-7 winger and five-star Cam Whitmore, who has committed to Villanova more than North Carolina And the Illinois. Named the Gatorade Maryland Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year and McDonald’s All-American, Whitmore ranked No. 14 in the 247 Athletic Class rankings. He will likely be named New Student of the Year in the Big East Preseason and have a chance to be the first-time Wildcats to have done in the NBA since Tim Thomas in 1997.
Whitmore made a lot of noise this summer, leading NBA to the FIBA Under-18 Americas Gold Medal with 18.7 PPG, including a 30-point performance in the final. Neptune was interested in Whitmore’s physical body. He has a college ready body and the transition should be easier for him than most freshmen. Whitmore is aggressive and will attack basketball a lot, and Villanova is a good place for him to further develop his goals in his vicinity. in my footsteps Josh HartAnd the Michael Bridges And other great Wildcat wings, Whitmore should start right away.
Whitmore’s teammate on the USA Under-18 Basketball team was goalkeeper Mark Armstrong, who will join him on the main streak this season. A 6-foot-3, 4-star recruit of Saint Peter’s Prep in New Jersey, Armstrong was the primary guard for Team USA in the Gold Medal Series, averaging 10.7 points and 3.8 assists during the event. He broke the record set for Saint Peter’s Prep in high school with 1,776 career points. It will be interesting to see how Neptune manages Armstrong’s minutes, but he’s the guy who will be asked to step up, especially with Moore not in the fold for at least the first two months.
Another four-star prospect in the class is Texas sniper Brendan Hausen. Choose Villanova more Texas Tech And the OklahomaAmong other things, the Hausen perimeter range matches the 3-point focus that has become a key element of the program’s identity. Hausen also ended his career at Amarillo High School as the program’s all-time leading scorer.
Originally assigned by Wright, this three-member freshman class was recruited by Neptune during the Leadership Transition—and the three prospectives reaffirmed their commitments to Villanova. This is another sign of why it makes sense to appoint someone closely related to Bright and the Program as his successor.
In recent years, I’ve heard people say Villanova is boring. This is a part of life when all you do is win, and it’s also a reflection of the show’s non-dramatic culture.
The 2022-23 season will be far from boring. With so many new faces entering the programme, it will be interesting to see if Villanova stays on the elite base.
Certainly, Neptune will not have much time to ease into the main training function. Of the Wildcats’ 31 regular season games, 30 will come against a conference strength competition or in the Big Five. a trip to Michigan State At Gavitt Games, Oregon’s Phil Knight Invitational during Thanksgiving week and home date with Oklahoma highlights the team’s non-conference roster.
The Cats sure have the firepower to be among the top 15 teams in the country, and while this team can handle some early hiccups as players take on new roles, this one should be an increasingly dangerous team as the season rolls on. Adding Moore at some point in the trip could change the season.
Yes, this year on the main line is not lacking in storylines. With the show’s success, a wealthy recruiting class, and Wright still existing as the vocal platform for Neptune, Villanova stands at number 14 in the pre-season rankings.
Top 15 Countdown:
John Fanta is a National College Basketball announcer and writer for FOX Sports. It covers sports in a variety of capacities, from invoking games on FS1 to serving as the main host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John Fanta.
Get more from College Basketball Follow your favorites for information about games, news, and more.