Villanova completed a dominant tournament run on April 2 to win their second national title in three years. The Wildcats won every game by double digits and left no room for debate on who the best team in the country was.
Head Coach Jay Wright has made it very clear that he wants to stay at Villanova for the long haul. Wright has been connected to the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers head coaching jobs.
Villanova’s Success Next Season Relies on Two Key Players
Wright has turned Villanova into one of the best programs in the country and by winning percentage, the top team over the last six years. Going into next season, Wright and his Wildcats will have a new look roster that will have to step in and make an impact.
Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges turn pro
Villanova will be losing their two leaders to the NBA, Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges. Bridges, who is expected to be a top-10 pick, declared shortly after the season. Brunson followed soon after hiring an agent and declaring to turn pro.
Brunson was selected as the Big East Player of the Year and Naismith Player of the Year. He led the Wildcats through the Big East and National Tournaments. Along with Bridges, they provided a one-two punch that no other team had.
So, can Villanova have success without them? Yes. The Wildcats are bringing in a strong recruiting class headlined by Jahvon Quinerly. The 6’1 point guard is ranked 24 in the ESPN 100 for 2018. Other players include Cole Swider, a 6’8 forward and Brandon Slater, a 6’5 small forward.
Not to mention returning talent, Eric Paschall and Phil Booth, who will be seniors. The key decisions for the Wildcats will not come until the end of the month from Omari Spellman and Donte DiVincenzo.
Will Spellman and DiVincenzo return?
DiVincenzo is a household name for anyone in the Nova Nation but for regular fans, he became a name during the national title game. The Big Ragu poured in 31 points off the bench for the Wildcats as they cruised against Michigan.
He showed his ability to shoot from anywhere, slash to the basket, finish with contact, and play defense. His size, strength and athleticism was enough for him to declare for the draft without hiring an agent. This means he can go through all of the pre-draft workouts and return to school if he wants.
The Big East Freshman of the Year, Spellman, grew into a dominant force right before our eyes. He played his best basketball right up until the end. Spellman fits the mold of the prototypical new look big men; someone who can guard down low and shoot from deep. He also declared for the draft without hiring an agent.
Villanova would hate to see these two players go. If they return, the Wildcats would have a starting lineup of Quinerly, Booth, DiVincenzo, Paschall and Spellman. This lineup has a good chance to win the Cats their third title in the last four seasons.
If they were to leave, Villanova would lean a lot on players like Collin Gillespie, Jermaine Samuels, Swider and Slater. While they would still likely be a top 10 team, winning a national title might be a long shot.
Seeing Brunson and Bridges leave early was hard enough for Villanova. But if Spellman and DiVincenzo join, it might be hard to overcome.