A quiet Wednesday evening in mid-April acquired very loud in fairly a rush throughout the world of faculty basketball, as Villanova males’s coach Jay Wright surprised the business through phrase of his imminent retirement after 21 seasons, 520 wins, two nationwide championships and 4 Ultimate Fours on Philadelphia’s Foremost Line. Wright stepped down simply 18 days after main the Wildcats of their Ultimate 4 loss to eventual nationwide champion Kansas in New Orleans.
Whereas the world awaits phrase from Wright, ESPN’s school basketball staff of Myron Medcalf, Jeff Borzello, John Gasaway and Joe Lunardi weighed in on Wright’s accomplishments, the place the shock issue of his retirement ranks in school hoops historical past and what’s subsequent for a storied Villanova program set to show the reins over to ex-Villanova assistant and Fordham head coach Kyle Neptune:
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What is going to Jay Wright’s legacy be in school basketball? Within the Huge East? At Villanova?
The day after Villanova reached its newest Ultimate 4, the most well-liked subject on sports activities radio in Philadelphia was unusually wise: Is Jay Wright the best coach — any sport, any degree — within the metropolis’s historical past? With the stunning information of Wright’s retirement, the reply is equally wise. If Jay isn’t the No. 1 reply, he’s on a really, very brief listing.
Begin with Villanova. Al Severance, Jack Kraft, Rollie Massimino, Steve Lappas. Main legacies for all, together with Massimino’s wondrous NCAA title in 1985. Wright laps the sector.
The legendary Philadelphia Huge 5 has produced one Corridor of Fame coach after one other: Harry Litwack, Dr. Jack Ramsay, Tom Gola, Chuck Daly, Massimino, John Chaney. Many are giants within the metropolis and past, however Wright surpassed all of them as a university coach.
What do John Thompson, Jim Boeheim and Massimino have in frequent? They’re Huge East icons with a number of Ultimate 4 appearances and a nationwide championship to their title. Wright bested every and added an Olympic gold medal for good measure.
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One may argue it was Wright, not his mentor Massimino, who killed the Huge 5 — just by being too good. Or that it was Wright who saved the Huge East when it was reborn a decade in the past. Within the first 5 years of the “new” Huge East, all Villanova did was win two nationwide championships, accumulate three No. 1 seeds and go effectively over 5 full seasons with out shedding two video games in a row. Take into consideration that.
School basketball has misplaced pretty much as good a coach and consultant as there’s within the nation. However for all of the fits and swooning followers, Jay Wright has been an unbelievable competitor and a first-class thoughts. That’s the place the successful was born and what a whole sport can by no means change. — Lunardi
What do you take into account to be Wright’s most interesting achievement at Villanova? What’s an underrated a part of his school basketball legacy?
I imagine his most interesting achievement was the 2017-18 nationwide title run. I believe we view the 2015-16 championship as a miraculous effort from a bunch that gave us one of the memorable buzzer-beaters within the historical past of the NCAA event. Kris Jenkins gained’t need to pay for an additional meal in Philly after that unbelievable second secured the 2016 title. However 2018 was one thing else.
Earlier than it had even reached the nationwide event, Villanova had defeated elite Tennessee and Gonzaga squads. After Valentine’s Day, the staff misplaced only one sport (an extra time battle at Creighton) the remainder of the best way. Within the NCAA event, the Wildcats beat each staff by double digits, together with a 17-point win over Michigan within the title sport. That was one of the dominant runs in latest NCAA tourney historical past. It additionally was an announcement: Villanova had kicked within the door of the blue-blood nation membership with its second title in three years and made positive the Energy 5 could be seen because the “Energy 6” with the Huge East incomes a spot.
Essentially the most underrated a part of his legacy has been his capacity to develop NBA expertise. When you get previous the faculties which have excelled within the one-and-done local weather, there usually are not many packages with extra gamers in recent times who’ve discovered spots in professional rotations than Wright’s. Kyle Lowry is a five-time All-Star who has performed extra NBA video games than anybody in Villanova historical past. Saddiq Bey averaged 16.7 factors per sport with the Detroit Pistons this season. Jalen Brunson is a dependable level guard for the Dallas Mavericks. Mikal Bridges was a NBA Defensive Participant of the Yr finalist with the Phoenix Suns. Dante Cunningham bounced across the league for practically a decade and made $20 million. Josh Hart simply signed a three-year deal for $37 million. Those that went by means of Wright’s program not solely had an opportunity to play on the subsequent degree, they have been ready to compete as soon as they arrived. That’s part of his legacy that deserves extra recognition. — Medcalf
On April 4, 2016, North Carolina’s Marcus Paige hits a miracle 3 to tie the rating however is outdone by Villanova’s Kris Jenkins, who hits a 3 to provide the Wildcats the title.
See also Charles to ship Queen’s Speech because the monarch misses State OpeningThe place does Wright’s retirement fall on the dimensions of all-time stunning school basketball retirements?
Wright’s retirement or profession change or no matter that is ranks means up there when it comes to shock worth. In regular jobs, reaching the age of 60 means it’s time to begin fascinated about the following chapter. Then once more, profitable school basketball coaches aren’t in regular jobs. Wright, 60, is sort of 17 years youthful than Jim Boeheim, 13 years the junior of Leonard Hamilton and 12 years youthful than Jim Larranaga. Whenever you’ve reached Wright’s degree, the usual working process is to maintain going by means of your 60s. As a substitute, he has apparently determined that two nationwide titles will suffice.
You might need to return virtually a half-century to seek out something similar to what Wright has simply finished. Al McGuire surprised a superb many individuals when he introduced in December 1976 that he was planning to step down as Marquette head coach after the top of that season. On the time, McGuire was simply 48. Nonetheless, even McGuire’s precedent doesn’t fairly measure as much as Wright’s departure. We all know now that Marquette ended up successful the nationwide title that season. McGuire actually didn’t know that prematurely, and in reality, his staff got here pretty near not even making the 32-team NCAA event discipline. Against this, Wright is aware of precisely what his legacy is and what his resolution entails. It is a bombshell. –– Gasaway
What ought to school basketball followers find out about Wright’s successor, Kyle Neptune?
Simply 37 years previous and with just one 12 months of head-coaching expertise underneath his belt, Neptune might be changing a Corridor of Famer. As with Jon Scheyer at Duke and Hubert Davis at North Carolina, it’s going to be a shock to see another person on the sideline. However Neptune ought to perceive the Villanova tradition in addition to anybody. He spent two seasons underneath Wright as a video coordinator, from 2008 to 2010, earlier than going to work underneath Joe Mihalich at Niagara for 3 seasons. Neptune then returned to the Wildcats in 2013 as an assistant coach. He was in that place for eight years, successful two nationwide championships and solidifying himself as the following in an extended line of Wright assistants to get a head-coaching job.
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Neptune earned that probability final spring, when he was named the pinnacle coach at Fordham. In his lone season with the Rams, he went 16-16 total and 8-10 within the Atlantic 10. Whereas these numbers don’t leap off the web page, take into account Fordham had gained simply two video games in 2020-21 and hadn’t gained eight A-10 video games since 2015-16. — Borzello
Will the following part achieve success for Villanova? Who do the Wildcats have returning in 2022-23?
Villanova had 5 seniors on this season’s Ultimate 4 staff: Collin Gillespie, Jermaine Samuels, Caleb Daniels, Brandon Slater and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree. Of that group, solely Gillespie and Samuels are formally out of eligibility because of the NCAA granting each student-athlete a free 12 months because of the pandemic-impacted 2020-21 season. Of the gamers sure to return, Justin Moore is atop the listing — though the torn proper Achilles tendon that he suffered within the Elite Eight will preserve him out indefinitely. Fellow starter Eric Dixon can be again, after which there are numerous query marks throughout the remainder of the roster. Wright principally used simply six gamers all through the important thing components of the marketing campaign, and just one (Dixon) is wholesome and undoubtedly set to come back again. Bryan Antoine, Chris Arcidiacono and Jordan Longino performed various roles alongside the perimeter this previous season and the identical goes for Trey Patterson and Nnanna Njoku within the frontcourt. However none of these 5 gamers averaged greater than 1.8 factors nor performed greater than 10.0 minutes per sport.
Villanova is bringing in three freshmen, led by five-star ahead Cameron Whitmore and ESPN 100 level guard Mark Armstrong. 4-star taking pictures guard Brendan Hausen rounds out the category. — Borzello