Villanova's Jay Wright doesn't expect Bryan Antoine back until at least December | Zagsblog
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Tuesday / November 19.
  • Villanova’s Jay Wright doesn’t expect Bryan Antoine back until at least December

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Villanova freshman Bryan Antoine may well be the most exciting freshman head coach Jay Wright has ever recruited.

    But Wildcats fans will have to wait until at least December to see the 6-foot-5 Tinton Falls, N.J. native make his debut.

    Antoine underwent right shoulder surgery on May 31 and at that time, Villanova said he was expected to be sidelined 4-6 months. On Wednesday, Wright told me he doesn’t expect Antoine to be able to play basketball until at least December.

    “He’s doing really well,” Wright said. “It’s still so early in the process that you can’t predict when he’s going to be back but you can see that everything is going extremely well with his rehab. There’s no setbacks.

    Everything has been better than expected but you’re still looking at early December right now until he can start playing live because it’s one of those things, if it gets banged, if it gets knocked out, you wasted all that time, so we’re going to have to be careful.”

    Villanova plays Big 5 opponents La Salle, Penn and St. Joe’s Dec. 1, 4 and 7 before facing Delaware (Dec. 14) in Newark and preseason No. 1 Kansas Dec. 21 at Wells Fargo Center.

    Antoine, a McDonald’s All-American who helped lead the Ranney (N.J.) School to its first New Jersey Tournament of Champions title in March, may have played all of last season with a torn labrum, sources said. He complained throughout the season of a shoulder injury but played through it.

    Antoine had been a projected firstround pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, per ESPN.com, but is not currently projected to be drafted next year, while his former teammate Scottie Lewis, a freshman at Florida, is a projected Top 10 pick.

    Antoine finished as the Shore Conference’s all-time leading scorer. He was listed at No. 15 in the ESPN.com ranking of the class of 2019 prospects and at No. 16 in the 247 Sports Top 100.

    Big East coaches were worried about how to defend the high-flying Antoine, who can be unstoppable in the open court and can also shoot from distance,

    Meantime, Wright has one of his youngest teams in recent memory., but the Wildcats were still projected to win the Big East Conference by Athlon Sports. The Wildcats have no seniors on the roster, and will rely on juniors Collin Gillespie, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree and Jermaine Samuels, sophomores Saddiq Bey, Cole Swider and Brandon Slater and freshmen Eric Dixon, Justin Moore and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.

    “We don’t have the older guys to kind of bring the younger guys along,” Wright said.

    Asked if he’d ever had a team this young, he said, “Our first year with Randy Foye and those guys, that’s what it kind of reminds me of. But even on that team, we had some older guys. It’s a really good group. I’m impressed with what our assistants did with them [when Wright was with Team USA at the World Cup] and I’m impressed with how hard they’re working.”

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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.