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.
Pinkston’s Epic Block Keys Villanova’s Win Over Michigan in Legends Classic Final
NEW YORK –– JayVaughn Pinkston was actually in the wrong place on the epic block that helped insure Villanova would enjoy a happy Thanksgiving.
“I kind of messed up on the play,” the Brooklyn native explained. “I didn’t take away the middle, so I just tried to make a play on the ball. I saw somebody fell and I just went up and made the block.”
With 4 seconds left and No. 12 Villanova clinging to a 1-point lead over No. 19 Michigan, the 6-foot-7 Pinkston turned and came out of nowhere on the baseline to get all ball on Michigan’s Zak Irvin on an entry pass from Spike Albrecht.
It was clean as can be. And you will for sure see it on SportsCenter.
The NCAA Tournament-like crowd roared in approval and Ryan Arcidiacono made all four foul shots in the final seconds to guarantee Villanova’s 60-55 victory in the Legends Classic championship game.
“The ref didn’t call the foul, so I guess it was a good play,” Michigan’s Caris LeVert, who went for 16 points and 6 rebounds, said of Pinkston’s block.
Not a bad way for Pinkston, a Brooklyn native, to make his Barclays Center debut. He finished with 8 points, 9 rebounds and 1 block as the Wildcats won the title in his home borough.
“This is my actual first time in this buiding so it was a fun experience and to win the tournament it felt great,” Pinkston said.
Said Villanova head coach Jay Wright: “Just really happy for J.P. coming back to Brooklyn and him being so unselfish and playing so much for the team as a senior. I’m proud of him, I’m happy for him.”
Pinkston had just four points until the final 1:16 of play.
But with Villanova down 53-52, he used his massive frame to spin on Ricky Doyle and scored to put Villanova ahead by 1.
After a LeVert layup put Michigan back up 55-54, Pinkston was whistled for an offensive foul on a similar play.
The next time up the court, Pinkston wheeled around LeVert and hit another short jumper to put the Wildcats up 56-55.
Then he topped his offensive effort by stopping Irvin in mid-air on the defensive end.
“His job on that play is not to let any pass go to the middle of the floor,” Wright said. “He got a little overexcited and jumped to the outside and it gave them that pass to the middle. To get from where he was to go make that block, it was an incredible play.”
Said Pinkston: “I was just focused on defense and trying to make a play on the ball and that’s what I did. Came up with the big block at the end.”
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.