NCB On The Trail: Villanova Wildcats

In order to return to the NCAA tournament, a team needs contributions from both returning players and incoming recruits. Here's a look at Villanova and its chances of dancing again in 2015.

Quick references:
2013-14 roster
2014 recruiting

Possible 2014-15 starting five:
G: Ryan Arcidiacono
G: Darrun Hilliard II
F: Josh Hart
F: JayVaughn Pinkston
C: Daniel Ochefu


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Freshmen might be the talk of college basketball this season, but if you are paying attention you are starting to notice that experience counts.

The new No. 1 team in the country, Florida, starts a quartet of seniors in Casey Prather, Scottie Wilbekin, Patric Young and Will Yeguete.

The leading candidate for this year’s Wooden Award as college basketball’s best player is also a senior, as Creighton’s Doug McDermott is averaging 26 points and almoist 7 rebounds while shooting high percentages from the 3-point line, free-throw line and the field.

So while Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Joel Embiid and Tyler Ennis could all bolt for the NBA -- only to be replaced by the likes of Jahlil Okafor, Myles Turner, Cliff Alexander, Tyus Jones and Emmanuel Mudiay -- it might actually be others from the 2014 class, who might not necessarily have the same level of instant success, but nonetheless go on to make their mark on college basketball by staying longer and getting better at each step along the way.

Here’s a look at some of the most likely candidates:


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2015 guard Donte DiVincenzo (Wilmington, Del./Salesianum) made a verbal commitment to Villanova on Friday, giving Wildcats coach Jay Wright the news in person while his high school team was on the Philadelphia campus to watch practice.


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#AskCoachB: Favorites for Richardson

December, 12, 2013
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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.



@Akaiser, thank you for making your first tweet to ESPN Recruiting Nation! Malachi Richardson is ranked No. 12 in the Class of 2015, and the 6-foot-5 shooting guard recently cut his list to six schools: Syracuse, Villanova, Rutgers, Arizona, Indiana and UConn.

Nova is involved because of the early effort and relationship coach Jay Wright made with Richardson in his freshman year. He's been on the Villanova campus several times and it's close to home. He recently visited Syracuse for their game against Indiana.

The school that lands this big=time shooter with offensive polish will be getting a bona fide 3-point shooter who strokes it with confidence. Richardson can pass and play defense, too, as he is not afraid to take a charge. I have seen him with his AAU club Team Final, which has had many outstanding Division I players and some high major stars such as Dion Waiters, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, just a few players coached by Rob Brown.

I believe it will come down to Nova and Syracuse for Richardson.

Top 10: Signing ESPN 100 players 

September, 4, 2013
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Sometimes you have to see it to believe it. Since John Calipari took over at Kentucky we’ve steadily sung the praises of the Wildcats and their recruits. Well, it turns out there was a good reason for the high praise. Kentucky exports prospects to the NBA and imports elite high school players at a rate higher than any of its peers.

The following is a list of programs that signed the most ESPN 100 players from 2009-2013. I know, it’s Telep’s Top 10, but we had some ties. Here’s a snapshot of where the talent goes in our country:

Kentucky (23 ESPN 100 recruits): What did you expect? When there’s a revolving door of lottery picks it’s only natural to replace talent with talent. Because of its ability to put elite talent in the NBA, UK has plenty of openings each year. UK has had four of the last five No. 1 recruiting classes and that's not an accident.

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Reading through the typical recruiting jargon can be a difficult task, especially for the untrained eye, but suffice it to say that things aren’t always what they seem.

Some of the most misleading statements often include sayings like, "He has offers from," or "He chose school X over," or "He decommitted from," primarily because they consider only one side of the process.

The fact of the matter is that schools choose prospects as much as prospects choose schools, and the former is no less fluid than the latter.

What does that mean? It means that sometimes when a tweet or recruiting article says Player X committed to School Y over offers from Schools A, B, C and D, what it can really mean is that Schools A, B, C and D offered Player X at some point in the past, but are no longer recruiting him, so he decided to commit to School Y.

Now, why would a school suddenly stop recruiting a prospect? Because they suddenly realized he wasn't good enough? Possibly, but more likely it's because they have since received a commitment from, or feel like they are on the verge of a commitment from, someone else at the same position whom they hold in a little higher esteem.

So, with that in mind, we're going to rewind through a particularly busy few weeks in the national point guard market and make an attempt to translate the real story. Whether it was a prospect who made a commitment or cut his list, we'll tell you which schools are in, which are out, the real story behind whose decision it was, and the bottom line for each prospect. Then we'll circle back and tell you which two ESPN 100 point guards are still uncommitted and open to new suitors.

[+] EnlargeTyus Jones
AP Photo/Damen Jackson No. 1 PG Tyus Jones recently reaffirmed his desire to play college hoops with No. 1 overall recruit Jahlil Okafor.
News: Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Minn./Apple Valley) reaffirms his intent to go to school with Jahlil Okafor (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young)
In: Baylor, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Ohio State
Out: Minnesota
Real story: Minnesota is still on Jones' list of seven, but the Gophers aren't on Okafor's list. That, in addition to the fact Richard Pitino and his staff could be seen prioritizing other targets this summer, is indication enough that Jones isn't likely to be staying home next season. The latest twist in the story is Okafor's AAU coach, Mike Irvin, going on record saying there is a great chance Duke lands Jones, while Okafor's camp has denied the Blue Devils are the leader for the package deal.
Bottom line: Jones and Okafor do want to go to school together, but they don't yet agree on where. Jones appears pretty set on Duke, but Okafor not quite as much at this point. ESPN 100 SF Justise Winslow (Houston/Saint John's) is also part of the conversation, making this potentially one of the biggest package deals in recent history.


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ESPN 100 point guard Phil Booth (Baltimore, Md./Mount St. Joseph) committed to Villanova on Tuesday over offers from Georgetown, Indiana, Temple and Virginia.

Booth, who is ranked No. 81 overall in the Class of 2014, gives the Wildcats their second ESPN 100 prospect and moves Villanova into the 2014 class rankings at No. 8. The Wildcats also have a pledge from small forward Mikal Bridges (Malvern, Pa./Great Valley), who is ranked No. 79 in the ESPN 100.

[+] EnlargePhil Booth
Kelly Kline/Under ArmourESPN 100 PG Phil Booth committed to Villanova on Tuesday, giving the Wildcats two ESPN 100 recruits in the 2014 class.
This is huge for Villanova head coach Jay Wright to land two versatile perimeter players from the fertile recruiting grounds of Pennsylvania and the DMV area.

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ESPN 100 SF Bridges picks Villanova 

June, 25, 2013
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It’ll take forward Mikal Bridges (Malvern, Pa./Great Valley) 15 minutes to get from his doorstep to his dorm in the fall of 2014 at Villanova.

During an unofficial campus visit, the fast-rising Top 100 player popped for the Wildcats.


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Notebook: Arizona strong with Victor 

June, 21, 2013
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This week’s Friday notebook includes why Arizona is in good shape with ESPN 100 power forward Craig Victor, where No. 1 point guard Tyus Jones will be visiting, who’s heavily after ESPN 100 guard Isaiah Whitehead, what impact the injury to No. 1 rising sophomore Harry Giles will have on his recruitment and much more.

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2013 PF Reynolds commits to Villanova

April, 23, 2013
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Villanova added a late addition to its 2013 class on Tuesday when power forward Darryl Reynolds (Bala Cynwyd, Pa./Worcester Academy) committed to the Wildcats, he announced at a press conference.

Reynolds graduated from Lower Merion (Pa.) last spring before spending a prep year at Worcester (Mass.). He chose the Wildcats over South Carolina, Utah and Seton Hall.

Reynolds is the third 2013 recruit for Villanova, joining ESPN 100 prospects Kris Jenkins (Upper Marlboro, Md./Gonzaga College H.S.) and Josh Hart (Washington, D.C./Sidwell Friends).

Findlay's Gavin Schilling down to four 

February, 8, 2013
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Undeclared 3-star center Gavin Schilling (Chicago/Findlay Prep) has narrowed his choices to four schools, according to a report on www.mlive.com.


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Terps land four-star PG Romelo Trimble 

December, 13, 2012
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Class of 2014 point guard Romelo Trimble (Arlington, Va./Bishop O'Connell) ended his recruitment on Thursday morning with a verbal commitment to Maryland, The Washington Post reported.

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Colbert to join Illinois' class 

November, 12, 2012
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Three-star power forward Austin Colbert (Gladstone, N.J./Gill St. Bernard) committed to Illinois on Monday. He announced his decision on www.SNY.tv.

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Syracuse strikes again with SF B.J. Johnson 

October, 16, 2012
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ESPN.com has confirmed that small forward B.J. Johnson (Ardmore, Pa./Lower Merion) has verbally committed to Syracuse. He is expected to officially announce his decision on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-7 Johnson officially visited Syracuse last weekend along with center Chinonso Obokoh (Rochester, N.Y./Bishop Kearney), who committed to the Orange Monday night. Johnson had narrowed his choices to Syracuse, Villanova, Temple and Rutgers.

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Center Chinonso Obokoh picks Orange 

October, 15, 2012
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Syracuse nabbed a verbal pledge from center Chinonso Obokoh (Rochester, N.Y./Bishop Kearney) on Monday night, multiple sources are reporting.

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