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.
‘Nova’s Wright Wants to Play 4 Out, 1 In; Hurley Talks Sidiki Johnson; St. Ben’s Notes
NEWARK — Villanova coach Jay Wright has so many talented guards this season that he wants to play four out and one in once the season begins.
“When Reggie Redding comes back [from suspension], that gives us an option of really having four experienced guards on the floor,” Wright said at the Garden State Coaches Clinic at St. Benedict’s Prep, where he was joined as a speaker for some 500 coaches by Hubie Brown, Jeff Van Gundy, Arizona coach Sean Miller, Pitt coach Jamie Dixon and Temple coach Fran Dunphy.
Wright would like to put Redding, senior guard Scottie Reynolds and sophomores Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes, who starred at St. Ben’s, out on the court with a big man.
Wright also has a couple of talented freshmen guards in McDonald’s All-Americans Maalik Wayns of Philly Roman Catholic and Dominic Cheek of St. Anthony.
“If our bigs are good enough, Antonio Pena and Mouph [Yarou] and Maurice Sutton, if they can play with those four [older guards], it would be nice,” Wright said. “I think we have some good options with [Duke transfer] Taylor King and Isaiah Armwood [in the frontcourt].“
Other than Pena, a redshirt junior from Brooklyn, none of those guys have any experience with the ‘Cats.Yarou is a 6-10, 250-pound shot-blocker originally from Benin in West Africa who played last year at Montrose Christian alongside the 6-7 Armwood.
Villanova hasn’t had a legitimate shot-blocking option in recent memory, so Yarou could really change the nature of the team.
“We’re going to need him,” Wright said. “Even if he’s not good enough, we’re going to need him.”
After going to the Final Four and losing to eventual national champion North Carolina, Villanova should be the preseason No. 1 or 2 team in the Big East, with West Virginia being the other favorite.HURLEY TALKS SIDIKI JOHNSONSidiki Johnson picked a good first day to arrive at St. Benedict’s, what with Wright and company in the building and 500 college and high school coaches on hand.
Johnson, a junior who committed to Arizona this summer will move into the dorms as of Sunday night to begin his new life at the Newark school.
The 6-9 Johnson transferred from St. Raymond’s in The Bronx and could become one of the featured players for Gray Bees head coach Dan Hurley, whose team perennially challenges for the prep national championship.
“He’s a skilled kid,” Hurley said of Johnson. “It will be nice to coach a kid who on his way into the school is talking about his work ethic on and off the court, a kid with a nice personality. And he’s got big goals. A school like this, we push guys hard.
“His life’s going to become studying and developing on the court. He’s got lofty goals in the sport and we’re going to push him hard on and off the court and I think he’s the type of kid who do well here.”
Johnson joins a group that includes Texas-bound senior point guard Myck Kabongo, uncommitted senior guard Aaron Brown, who lists Penn, Harvard, Temple, Boston University and Rice as his final five, and uncommitted 6-8 senior forward Gil Biruta, who is hearing from Seton Hall, Northwestern, Washington, Creighton and others.
“We’ve got a really competitive team,” Hurley said.
Seton Hall assistant Dermon Player was headed to watch 6-8 St. Anthony senior forward Devon Collier during an open gym Friday afternoon. Collier will have an in-home visit in the Bronx Monday with Pirates coach Bobby Gonzalez and Player. Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson, Barack Obama’s brother-in-law, comes in for Collier on Friday. Maryland, Rutgers, St. John’s and Providence are also involved. Gonzalez will also meet with Bishop Loughlin senior forward Jayvaughn Pinkston on Tuesday. Pinkston is considering Seton Hall, St. John’s, Villanova, Marquette and Tennessee, with Villanova leading at this point…St. Patrick junior wing Michael Gilchrist spent two days on the Rutgers campus last weekend, hitting the football game against Florida International, spending the night on campus and returning Sunday to run with the players. Rutgers assistant Jimmy Carr is working very hard on Gilchrist, who is said to favor Kentucky and Villanova…Oklahoma and Texas Christian are among the schools challenging Seton Hall for 6-8 St. Patrick senior forward Julian Washburn, son of the troubled former NBA star Chris Washburn…A source says Cory Joseph, the talented point guard out of Findlay (Nev. ) Prep, could come down to UConn and ‘Nova when all is said and done.
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.