Who is gone:
Mouphtaou Yarou – expired eligibility – 28.1 MPG, 9.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG
Maurice Sutton – expired eligibility – 9.5 MPG, 3.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG
Achraf Yacoubou – transferred – 12 MPG, 2.9 PPG, 2.6 RPG
The loss of Yarou will be most impactful as he was the team’s best rebounder last year. He came down with 11.6% of available offensive rebounds and 20.8% of defensive rebounds, ranking 157th and 159th respectively in the country. Villanova will miss his leadership and steady performance of the last three seasons. Sutton seemed to be a significant contributor when on the court, but he didn’t find the court that often. Nevertheless, the Wildcats will miss his length. Yacoubou was a solid defender, but didn’t contribute much further besides letting it fly from 3.
Who is back:
Ryan Arcidiacono – guard – 34 MPG, 11.9 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.1 SPG
JayVaughn Pinkston – forward – 26.1 MPG, 13.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.0 SPG
Darrun Hilliard – guard – 29.9 MPG, 11.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.6 SPG
James Bell – guard – 28.5 MPG, 8.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.1 SPG
Tony Chennault – guard – 18.5 MPG, 3.6 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 1.5 APG
Daniel Ochefu – forward – 17.5 MPG, 3.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG,
Mislav Brzoja – guard – 2.4 MPG
Arcidiacono’s stellar freshman campaign landed him on the Big East All-Rookie team as one of the two unanimous selections with Big East Rookie of the Year JaKarr Sampson being the other. It was impressive to see how quickly he adapted to the increased level of competition, especially that of the Big East, after sitting out his senior year of high school with an injury. The Big East is filled with a handful of really good point guards, but Arcidiacono has the potential to take the crown as the best in the conference in only his sophomore year. His understanding of the game along with his ball-handling are there, but he needs to work on his shot at he converted only 34% of his field goal attempts as a freshman.
Pinkston is the Wildcats’ most versatile player as he has the ability to bang down low or step out and handle the ball and let it fly from beyond the arc. With the Big East undergoing a transformation, and some of the bigger-bodied and physical teams exiting, Pinkston should emerge as one of the best players in the conference.
Chennault will not only provide solid depth at point guard, but also bring invaluable senior leadership to the table. Bell, also to be a senior, and Hilliard, will split time at the 2-guard, but will also likely find themselves on the floor together as Coach Wright may have to implore a smaller lineup often, much like last year. However, while both players are labeled as guards, they each stand 6-foot-6, so it’s not as if they can’t match up with a forward on the opposing team. Ochefu was solid in a limited role last year a freshman, especially when it came to blocking shots, and should be able to hold his own with more playing time this year.
Kris Jenkins – 6-foot-6 Power Forward
ESPN’s 73rd ranked recruit and 18th ranked PF
Rivals.com’s 74th ranked recruit and 20th ranked PF
Josh Hart – 6-foot-5 Small Forward
ESPN’s 92nd ranked recruit and 18th ranked SF
Rivals.com’s 84th ranked recruit and 14th ranked SF
Darryl Reyolds – 6-foot-8 Power Forward
ESPN rates him as a 3-star recruit
Rivals.com rates him as a 3-star recruit
Villanova is not returning much size for the 2013-14 season, so the three incoming recruits will definitely have the opportunity for significant playing time. On paper, it may not say that the two top-100 recruits are that big, but both play much larger than the ruler suggests.
Probable starting lineup:
Ryan Arcidiacono, PG
Darrun Hilliard, G
James Bell, G
JayVaughn Pinkston, F
Daniel Ochefu, F
The Villanova Wildcats were not supposed to compete in the Big East in the way that they did last year, and they definitely were not supposed to make the NCAA Tournament. They were coming off of a season in which they won only 5 conference games and lost two would be seniors when they decided to turn pro unexpectedly. Nonetheless, Coach Wright righted the ship after a rocky November and got his squad to compete with the best in the Big East on a nightly basis. Now he welcomes two high-profile recruits to go along with a sound foundation that features two players (Arcidiacono and Pinkston) who will compete for Big East First-Team honors. The squad may not be very long, but they can defend and they should see an improvement in their offense over last year. Villanova likely won’t be anyone’s pick (including my own) to win the re-configured Big East, but I can’t say I won’t be surprised if they do.