The 2013 season was a bounce back season for the Villanova Wildcats. The team recovered from a very poor season when the Wildcats did not make the NCAA tournament or the NIT; to have a season where they were a 9 seed in the NCAA tournament and they upset three Top 5 ranked teams. This season’s success was due in part to the freshmen catalysts.
Freshman Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu were thrown into the fire and emerged successful and battle tested. Their sophomore seasons will prove to be pivotal in Villanova’s success moving forward. The vibe around the mainline consists of an expectation of success and the incoming class of recruits consisting of Kris Jenkins, Josh Hart and Daryl Reynolds will be key in determining just how far the Wildcats can claw their way.
Below are best case and worst case predictions for their freshman seasons, all predictions assuming they remain healthy throughout the season.
Kris Jenkins PF
Background – Out of Gonzaga prep, Jenkins was rated 4 stars by Rivals and Scout. He was also given a 90 rating by 24/7 Sports. Jenkins comes in as a highly ranked but undersized PF. His ESPN scouting report says “He could morph into a Charles Barkley-type; undersized four man who likes to rebound. He's got good feet and hands and isn't [afraid] of contact. He'll knock down the occasional perimeter shot but his bread and butter is in the paint”. Jenkins had also received offer from the likes of Xavier, Miami and Clemson.
Best Case – Offensively, Jenkins transitions to the speed of the game effectively and is able to consistently hit 18 foot jumpers to stretch the floor as well as being able to develop post moves. Defensively, Kris Jenkins proves that being undersized will not be an issue, he effectively battles and rebounds against the big men of the Big East as well as able to adequately guard opponents SF. If Jenkins can put these together, he could crack the starting lineup and at the least be a very effective 6th man. An added bonus would be; if he were able to grow another inch or two.
Worst Case – The game proves too fast for Jenkins, he is caught out of place defensively against quicker 3’s and stronger 4’s. His size proves to be an issue and can’t rebound well leaving the primary rebound option to be Ochefu. Offensively, he comes in unpolished and his lack of speed and size prevents him from being able to work in the paint and attack from the lane effectively.
Josh Hart SG/SF
Background - Out of Sidwell Friends School, Hart ranked 4 stars by Rivals and Scout and rated an 89 by 24/7 Sports. Hart’s Scout.com report says that “He is at his best getting to the mid-range off the bounce, but also is very capable of scoring from deep. Only an average athlete, he isn't the most aggressive defender in the country, but offensively he separates himself with his ability to play and his shot making.” Hart also received offers from the likes of Arizona, Penn State and Rutgers.
Best Case – Hart is not expected to start but what should be expected of him is to come off the bench and give solid minutes at different positions. Hart shows the versatility to play the 2,3 and possibly even the 4. Giving players like Hilliard, Bell, Pinkston a break. If Hart is able to shoot around 40% from deep, would be great to give us another consistent three point threat. Hart’s toughness and motor and overall heart may allow Jay to throw it back to the days of the 4 guard O.
Hart should be hard pressed to learn from junior guard Darrun Hilliard. Hart was ranked higher coming out than Hilliard was but the two are similar prospects in size and athletic ability. Hart learning from Hilliard, who took leaps and bounds as a player in his sophomore year, would be one of the more beneficial things Hart could do going forward.
Worst Case – Josh Hart had trouble academically at Sidwell Friends School, if he were to suffer similar academic trauma at Villanova that could spell trouble for the team. On the court, Hart struggles from deep as well as becomes a defensive liability; forcing Coach Wright to reduce his minutes and adding to the fatigue of Hilliard, Bell and Pinkston later on in Big East play.
Darryl Reynolds PF/C
Background – From right down the Main Line at Lower Merion, Reynolds was a late signee but the biggest addition of need. Rated 3 stars by Rivals and ESPN as well as given a rating of 82 by 24/7 sports. Reynolds ESPN report says “Reynolds is a physically gifted prospect with a tremendous basketball body. He has a long, athletic and chiseled frame with the muscle mass to bang inside the paint, the mobility to change ends and direction, and the athleticism to get his head on the rim to block shots“ Reynolds also received offers from the likes of Seton Hall, South Carolina and Utah.
Best Case - Similar to Hart, there is no expectation for Reynolds to start. Reynolds role will be to come off the bench and be a serviceable back up to Daniel Ochefu. If Reynolds can give what Daniel gave last year for Mouph then Reynolds season should be considered a great success. If Reynolds exceeds expectations, he could be the starting lineup due to matchups; with Reynolds at the 4 with Ochefu at the 5.
Worst Case – Reynolds is lackluster in his protection of the rim and of the paint. He proves to be more of a liability than an asset. Ochefu is forced to play more minutes even when fatigued and his production goes down.
All of these freshmen will at the least play complimentary roles in determining the success of the Villanova Wildcats this upcoming season. Darryl Reynolds success looks to be the most important as there is not a lot of depth at the C position for the Wildcats and he needs to be able to contribute immediately.
With Hart, Jenkins and Reynolds, the future looks bright for the Wildcats restoring magic back to the Mainline.