Jay Wright suddenly and shockingly announced his retirement in April. Kyle Neptune was immediately tabbed to take his place. On top of that Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels finally ran out of eligibility. Replacing them, especially Gillespie, who is one of the best players in the history of Villanova basketball, will be hard. The Wildcats start 16 in the AP Poll and 3rd in the Big East coaches poll, both their lowest marks since 2014. There is a lot for them to prove this year.
You can view the previous team in my rankings right here.
Preseason College Basketball Rankings: #15 Villanova Wildcats
Arguably the Wildcats’ best returning player in Caleb Daniels. He is easily their best shooter and will be one of their top scoring options this season. Jordan Longino could have a chance to take a big step forward as a sophomore, and we will have to see if Bryan Antoine can finally live up to his high school hype. Justin Moore is, of course, still on the roster. But there is currently “no timetable” for the return of the All-Big East guard due to the torn Achilles tendon that he suffered during their Elite Eight game against Houston back in March.
Brandon Slater became a full-time starter for the first time last year and had the best season of his collegiate career yet. The fifth-year senior will provide needed leadership and experience this year. Eric Dixon became one of the better big men in the Big East last season and should be even better this season.
Villanova’s recruiting class is crucial. For starters, the prize of the class is Cam Whitmore. He is a classic, perfect Villanova Wildcat. He is physical yet nimble. He can attack from either side and is both a great passer and rebounder. Whitmore is also an elite defender that can guard any position. He is also the third-highest-ranked recruit in Villanova history. The other major member of their three-man recruiting class is Mark Armstrong. The top 60 combo guard can score at all three levels. He is going to be heavily relied upon at the point with no return currently in sight for Justin Moore.
PF – Eric Dixon (9.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.5 BPG)
SF – Cam Whitmore (#14 overall recruit on 247 Sports)
SF – Brandon Slater (8.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.3 BPG)
SG – Caleb Daniels (10.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.2 BPG)
PG – Mark Armstrong (#55 overall recruit on 247 Sports)