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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Sunday / July 22.
  • Villanova is ‘about to hit the lottery in recruiting’

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    Villanova will learn a lot about next year’s roster in the coming days and weeks as Donte DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman head into the NBA Draft Combine as they test the draft waters.

    But no matter what happens with those two, the future looks especially bright for the NCAA champion Wildcats.

    “There’s an embarrassment of riches at Villanova,” ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla said this week by phone. “Because of the mystique of the program, the national championships and the NBA cachet, they are about to hit the lottery in recruiting. I think everybody senses the next year or two are going to be very fruitful for Villanova.”

    Villanova coach Jay Wright, one of only three active coaches with more than one NCAA championship ring (Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams) said repeatedly during his team’s March run that he was open to having one-and-done players coming to the school but they had to fit in with the “Villanova Way.”

    “I like all of those one-and-done guys that we don’t get, I love those guys,” Wright said in Pittsburgh. “I would love them to come to Villanova. I just lay it out for what it is, and they usually decide they don’t want to come. They’re all good guys and a lot of them are really good students.”

    Heading into the Class of 2019, Villanova is involved for a number of elite players, several of whom could be one-and-done candidates. That group includes guards Bryan Antoine, who trimmed his list to five on Thursday, Scottie Lewis, Cole Anthony, Jalen Lecque, Isaiah Wong, Josh Green and Nico Mannion, who is looking to reclassify to 2019 from 2020. Villanova is also involved for 2019 bigs Isaiah Stewart and Aidan Igiehon, among others.

    “Even if next year is a rebuilding year because Spellman and DiVincenzo leave, Villanova is in great shape,” Fraschilla said. “Even if you would consider next year by their standards a rebuilding year.”

    As a precaution in case DiVincenzo does leave, Villanova added Albany grad transfer Joe Cremo, who averaged 17.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists last season.

    Villanova will have four players at next week’s Combine. Along with Spellman and DiVincenzo, who are testing the waters without agents, Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson will there. Bridges is a projected lottery pick, while Brunson has moved up to a late-first round projection, per ESPN.com.

    “On the other hand, if either Donte or Omari return then they’re obviously going to be a preseason favorite along with Duke and Kentucky and Kansas,” Fraschilla said. “So I think Jay Wright’s program is in great shape.

    “If Omari and Donte want to check out after the national championship it will hurt their program temporarily but in the long term it’s actually a selling point that this many guys who play the right way and are not typical one-and-done guys can have success both in college and with a chance to go to the NBA like Josh Hart and Ryan Arcidiacono.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.