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.
As Villanova Visits St. John’s, Pinkston Returns Home
NEWARK — Most New York City products relish the chance to return home to play in Madison Square Garden.
Not JayVaughn Pinkston.
“No, not really,” the 6-foot-7 former Bishop Loughlin star said in advance of Saturday’s Villanova-St. John’s game.
“I really don’t like playing in the Garden. It’s a lot of pressure. But I’m up to it now, so it’s just getting out there and keep getting better.”
Pinkston is averaging a team-best 16.1 points along with 5.1 rebounds for a No. 8 Villanova team that is 14-1 and 3-0 in the Big East.
If the NCAA Tournament started today, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Wildcats as a No. 2 seed.
“We can play with anybody on any given night,” Pinkston said. “It’s just us coming out with defensive intensity.”
Pinkston is one of three Villanova players left over from the team that finished 13-19 two years ago.
A year ago, when Pinkston averaged 13.3 points, the Wildcats were picked 12th in the Big East, but won 20 games and made the NCAA Tournament.
“I think getting to the tournament last year was very significant,” head coach Jay Wright said. “I think it gave us great confidence. I think it gave them a sense of accomplishment.”
This year, Villanova was picked fourth in the Big East, but so far is the class of the league.
The Wildcats have three players — Pinkston, James Bell (14.4 ppg) and Darrun Hilliard (14.1) — averaging in double-digits, and two more Josh Hart (9.7) and Ryan Arcidiacono (9.2) close to it.
“Everybody’s played with each other for a year and everybody knows each other’s game so it’s just a matter of us getting better each and every day,” Pinkston said.
As for the new-look Big East, Pinkson says he doesn’t miss Syracuse, Louisville, UConn and the other powers, even though Villanova did play — and lose to — Syracuse in a non-conference game at the Carrier Dome.
“[I’m] glad that they aren’t [in the league] and basically I don’t want to play against them,” he said.
Then he added: “We can still play with them.”
Right now, Villanova can play with anybody.
Pinkston would just prefer not to play at the Garden.
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.