One-and-dones may be scared off by Villanova, but Jay Wright continues to win without them | Zagsblog
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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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Saturday / June 15.
  • One-and-dones may be scared off by Villanova, but Jay Wright continues to win without them

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    NEW YORK — It was really no surprise when Villanova this week was picked to win the Big East regular season title.


    Jay Wright and the Wildcats have won four straight Big East regular season titles and are now the favorites to win a fifth. Oh, and they also won two Big East Tournament titles (2015 and ’17) and the school’s second NCAA championship in 2016.

    What makes this stretch of success even more impressive is that Villanova hasn’t had a single one-and-done player during this run.

    “Well I want them, we just haven’t gotten them,” Wright told Sports Illustrated with a laugh in March.

    Wright told the story at last year’s media day of a recruit who was scared off by Villanova because they didn’t produce one-and-dones.

    “There are no negatives about Villanova,” the recruit told Wright. “I love the school, I love the program, I just know that you guys try to win college basketball games and you don’t want guys to go to the NBA.”

    Two years ago, point guard Jalen Brunson was touted as a potential one-and-done and appeared on several mock drafts as a freshman.

    “He definitely has the talent to be one-and-done,” Wright told me in November 2015. “That’s a decision he’ll make at the end of the year.”

    Brunson, the son of former NBA guard Rick Brunson, said he never even considered leaving after his freshman year. Or his sophomore year, for that matter.

    Here we are two years later and Brunson is still at Villanova as a junior. This week he was named the Big East Preseason Player of the Year.

    “I really wanted to graduate,” Brunson said. “My all-time goal is to be in the NBA. I want to make sure I graduate, too. The NBA is not going anywhere. Actually the longer I wait, the more the [salary] cap goes up. I definitely want to get my degree and put that on my wall just like my mom and my dad did.”

    Brunson concurred with Wright that Villanova may scare off potential one-and-dones.

    “It may honestly, it may scare away recruits,” Brunson told me Wednesday.

    “I know that coach [Wright] wants to get the best recruits that he can, but he also wants to get the guys that are going to fit into the system, and who’s going to want to continuously play for his teammates and not worry about where they’re going to be drafted and what’s going to happen in the future. He’s really preached that to us.”

    He added: “We attract guys that are willing to put the work in and are willing to get better.”

    Since the one-and-done era began, only three schools have won NCAA championships with those players: Kentucky in 2012, Duke in 2015 and now North Carolina in 2017 with Tony Bradley.

    Meantime, Brunson is part of another experienced Villanova team that lost Josh Hart (to the NBA after his senior season) and Kris Jenkins and Darryl Reynolds, but appears just as potent with a squad that includes Brunson, redshirt juniors Phil Booth, Mikal Bridges and Eric Paschall, redshirt sophomores Tim Delaney and Donte DiVincenzo and a loaded freshmen group highlighted by redshirt Omari Spellman.

    The 6-9 Spellman has lost weight and is in terrific shape, by all counts, and will surely garner interest from NBA scouts.

    “If you’re good enough, they’re going to come find you,” Brunson said.

    They may find Spellman at Villanova, but, given Jay Wright’s history, the odds are that he won’t leave after his freshman year.

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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.

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