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 Reynolds Not Getting Enough Respect; Wildcat Recruits on Display in Big Apple
Is it time to start talking about Scottie Reynolds as a potential Big East Player of the Year yet?
Reynolds scored 27 points Sunday when No. 4 Villanova beat No. 11 Georgetown, 82-77, at home.
Coming off a 36-point game against Louisville, Reynolds scored 12 of Villanova’s first 16 points in the game.
Down the stretch, he drove the lane and put the Wildcats up for good at 71-69. He was fouled and missed the free throw, but the play displayed what makes him so tough.
Hoyas coach John Thompson III said Reynolds “can’t be contained.”
“He’s too good of an offensive player,” he said. “When they need a basket they get him the ball and he’s been doing it for four years.”
Villanova improved to 16-1 — its best start since the 1963-64 campaign — and is tied with Pitt at a perfect 5-0 atop the Big East.
Yet when an early list of Player of the Year candidates was floated recently during a Big East Network game, Reynolds’ name didn’t make it.
Instead, Wesley Johnson of Syracuse (pictured at left), Devin Ebanks of West Virginia, Luke Harangody of Notre Dame and Jerome Dyson of UConn made the list.
“He’s the leader of our team and he takes great pride in it, but I really know for a fact that that stuff doesn’t bother him at all,” Villanova coach Jay Wright told me Saturday.
Reynolds hit perhaps the biggest shot in recent Villanova memory last spring when he drove coast-to-coast and hitting a runner in the lane to beat Big East rival Pittsburgh in a thrilling Elite Eight game in Boston.
The Wildcats were then overwhelmed by eventual NCAA champ North Carolina in the Final Four in Detroit.
Reynolds tested the NBA waters last summer and then chose to return to campus when he discovered he wasn’t going to be a high draft pick.
Now he’s killing it for the Wildcats.
On Dec. 6, Reynolds delivered 25 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds in the Wildcats 95-86 victory over Maryland at the Verizon Center. He was named Most Outstanding Player at the BB&T event.
On Jan. 2 he hit the winning basket with 18 seconds left in regulation to secure a 74-72 victory over Marquette.
So he deserves consideration for Big East Player of the Year at this point, right?
“He definitely deserves consideration but I don’t feel the need to campaign for him because I know he doesn’t care. We don’t care,” Wright said. “I’ll leave that up to the media. It’s up to everybody on that.”
WILDCAT RECRUITS ON DISPLAY IN BIG APPLENEW YORK –– The future of the Villanova basketball program is on display this holiday weekend at the Big Apple Basketball Invitational at Baruch College.
Three Wildcat recruits — 6-foot-9 senior forward Markus Kennedy (Winchendon), 6-6 senior forward JayVaughn Pinkston (Bishop Loughlin) and 6-4 junior guard Achraf Yacoubou (Long Island Lutheran) — are all competing at the event.
Villanova coach Jay Wright isn’t allowed to comment on unsigned recruits, which Pinkston and Yacoubou are, but he did praise the talent base in the New York/New Jersey area.
“Every coach in the country knows that coming up to the New York metropolitan area, you’re going to get kids that are playing against the best competition. They get great coaching and they have a competitiveness about them, just to make the teams in this area,” Wright said. “You’re talking so much competition that you’ve already gotten yourself to a level that’s going to prepare you to play at the collegiate level.”
Wright and assistant Jason Donnelly were on hand Saturday to watch Kennedy score four points as Winchendon routed Impact Academy from Las Vegas, 84-53.
Now playing at his fourth high school, the 260-pound Kennedy needs to continue to drop some weight and get in shape and play with the motor of 6-5 teammate James Stukes, who was very active around the basket.
“Just getting in better shape and working on my speed,” Kennedy said when asked what he needed to work on.
“Markus Kennedy, obviously, getting his body in shape has been the biggest thing,” Winchendon coach Mike Byrnes said. “Right now Markus can probably play 2 or 3 minutes in succession because he’s just so big. He’s just held that body and he’s never got his body in shape. It’s tough to play long for long stretches of time, so it’s still a process. But he’s bought into it.”
He added: “Because he’s so much bigger than everybody else, he could just bully people around. And in our league it doesn’t happen and he’s not bullying me around, either. He’s a great kid and he’s making strides, but he’s still got a ways to go.”
Kennedy played with Yacoubou at the LeBron James Skills Academy and with Pinkston at the Top 100 Camp.
Kennedy, Pinkston and 6-5 combo guard James Bell will join the Wildcats in 2010, while Yacoubou comes in 2011.
Yacoubou scored 13 points in a 53-40 loss later Saturday to Brooklyn Boys and Girls. His team plays again Monday at Baruch.
“Ash is a true warrior on the court,” Luhi coach John Buck said. “He loves to compete and has excellent size and strength for a shooting guard. He’ll be excellent at the college level.”
By the time Yacoubou steps on campus, Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes will all be gone, and he can step right in to the next wave of guards that will feature Bell, current freshmen Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek and potentially St.Patrick superstar Michael Gilchrist, the No. 1 junior in the country.
A Somerdale, N.J. native who has roots in the South Jersey/Philly area, Gilchrist could end up at Villanova if he doesn’t pick Kentucky.
The 6-6 Pinkston, meantime, will be on display in a highly anticipated game Monday night when Loughlin takes on Tennessee-bound forward Tobias Harris and Half Hollow Hills West.
Harris is coming off a 35-point, 16-rebound performance Saturday at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass.
SATURDAY’S SCORES FROM THE BIG APPLE INVITATIONAL
(Courtesy NBE Basketball Report)
Wings Academy 87, Peekskill 63
Winchendon Academy 84, Impact Academy 53
Benjamin Cardozo 66, St. Raymond’s 57
Boys & Girls 53, Long Island Lutheran 40
The AP contributed.
(Photo courtesy VillanovaAthletics)Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter.
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.