Looking Ahead: Basketball in 2010

Jon Albert

 After a disappointing end to a promising season, the men’s basketball team will soon have to direct its focus to next season. With team leaders Scottie Reynolds and Reggie Redding graduating in the spring, the team will have to rely on some old and new faces if they want to recapture the success of last year’s Final Four squad. 

Senior Leadership


With this year’s captain graduating, the three senior members of Head Coach Jay Wright’s team, guards Corey Stokes, Corey Fisher and forward Antonio Peña, will be expected to fill the very large shoes that Reynolds has left for them. The team chemistry was lacking down the stretch, and the Wildcats will be in desperate need of a veteran presence next season. 

Every player on the roster other than the three mentioned above has only one year of playing experience at Villanova, so expect starring roles for the aforementioned Wildcats, especially the two Coreys, who will likely fill the starting spots at both guard positions.

Class of 2014: Fresh Faces


According to rivals.com, the Wildcats currently have three recruits verbally committed to play on the Main Line next season. While next year’s class may not have the high-profile recruits that the class of 2013 had, the players are reminiscent of the members of the class of 2009: under-recruited, and with some coaching, will have the ability to be 1,000 point scorers. 

The most heralded of the recruits is power forward and McDonald’s All-American Jayvaughn Pinkston of Bishop Loughlin High School in Brooklyn. 

Pinkston will immediately add size to the Wildcat frontcourt and has been described as possessing a “college-ready body.” He should compete for minutes as soon as he steps on campus. 

Small forward James Bell of Montverde Academy in Montverde, Fla. is widely regarded as a defensive specialist, and his 6-feet-5-inch frame allows him to match up with players in the backcourt and frontcourt. 

Center Markus Kennedy of Living Faith Christian in Elizabeth, N.J. will likely redshirt for his freshman season and should see ample playing time in the future.

Rotation Issues


Wright will be the first to tell you that this year’s team lacked the consistency in the rotation that made last year’s team so efficient and dangerous. Wright noted that his team’s best offensive lineup was not the best defensive lineup, and he struggled to find an effective balance of the two over the course of the season. 

For the ‘Cats to recover that success, Wright will have to establish a set rotation for much of the season, and this might mean forcing quality players to sit on the bench during important situations. 

Assuming the team starts Stokes, Fisher, Peña, center Mouphtaou Yarou — who started this season at the center position — and, for the sake of argument, forward Taylor King, the team would have guards Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek, forward Isaiah Armwood and center Maurice Sutton coming off of the bench. 

This does not take into account the incoming freshmen, two of whom expect to get immediate playing time. There is certainly a logjam at the guard position for the Wildcats, and a set rotation of eight or nine players is crucial if the ‘Cats are to avoid another late-season flame-out. Wright has struggled in the past with incorporating incoming fresmen.


The Wildcard: Cory Joseph


‘Nova Nation likely remembers the “We Want Cheek” chants from 2008 Hoops Mania, and there is one final recruit on Wright’s radar for next year.

Cory Joseph is an explosive, high-scoring point guard from Findlay Prep in Nevada who is the seventh-ranked prospect in the rivals.com 2010 player rankings. Joseph has Villanova in his “Final Five” of potential suitors, along with Texas, Connecticut, Minnesota — where his brother plays —  and the in-state University of Nevada, Las Vegas Runnin’ Rebels. 

If Joseph chooses Villanova, then the Wildcats would once again have one of the best recruiting classes in the country, which could ease the pain of this season’s disapponting early exit. 


Final Verdict


While the team might have a rough adjustment period at the beginning of next season, Coach Wright and his team will likely learn from their mistakes.