Opinion: Believe in Kyle Neptune


Courtesy of Olivia Pasquale/Villanovan Photography

Although he is not Jay Wright, ‘Cats fans can rest assured that the program is in good hands with Kyle Neptune.

Tyler Moore, Staff Writer

The Neptune Era has officially begun. Many students on campus aren’t feeling so “All Wright” with the events that unfolded in the past few days, but they shouldn’t fret; Kyle Neptune, Villanova men’s basketball’s new head coach, is the real deal. This article will (hopefully) ease your fears and your tears.

Many students and fans are probably wondering who Kyle Neptune is and why he is here—the decision of Jay Wright’s replacement seemed so quick and easy that many were left in shock. A basic Google search reveals that Neptune coached at Fordham this past season and went 16-16. Importantly, although it may not be up to the Villanova basketball standard, there’s a lot behind this record.

The .500 record came in the only season of Neptune’s short career with the Rams, immediately following a season in which the school won just two games. Neptune found a way to build Fordham into a program that saw its most Atlantic 10 conference wins in 15 years, second most overall wins in 15 years, first Atlantic 10 quarterfinal since 2007 and best rated defense in program history. His time spent at Fordham is nothing short of impressive, but there’s more to what Neptune brings to the table.

A video coordinator for the Wildcats from 2008-2010 and an assistant coach from 2013-2021, Neptune is incredibly familiar with the Villanova Basketball program and its culture. During Neptune’s time at ‘Nova, he helped lead the program to two national championships and four Big East tournament titles. He holds an immense amount of experience coaching All-Americans and future NBA stars as well as coaching alongside Wright. 

The key to Villanova basketball is its culture, the culture Wright built. Neptune knows what that looks like, and he’s fully committed to keeping that culture alive.

“What Villanova stands for is kind of embedded in me as a person, forget [as] a coach,” Neptune said at his first press conference. “I would imagine that a lot of things will be similar. I am not Jay Wright– I can’t be exactly like him– but there will be a lot of similar things.”

Neptune is also extremely familiar with the coaching staff and players considering he was only gone for a year. In his press conference, he made clear that he expects the staff to remain the same and intact, but many wonder about the players.

Keeping a team’s players in any coaching change is extremely challenging, but it would not be surprising to see most of the team, if not all, remain through the transition. Key returnees Nnanna Njoku, Jordan Longino, Caleb Daniels, Angelo Brizzi, Eric Dixon and Bryan Antoine all attended the press conference which gives great hope for the team’s future. 

Recruiting is a different story, but everything is looking positive, according to Wright. Mark Armstrong Jr.’s father told NJ Advance Media that Armstrong is still committed to joining the Wildcats next season. Cam Whitmore attended the introductory press conference but has not made an official announcement on whether or not he plans to decommit. 

Opinions around campus are mixed, however. While Neptune is not a household name, some of the most passionate fans remember his impact.

“I was pumped to see Kyle get the nod as head coach, and I think he is going to do wonders for this program and the culture of Villanova basketball,” freshman Ryan Hartnett said of the announcement. “I’ve got faith in him and everyone else should, too.”

On the flip side, some students had no clue about Neptune’s familiarity with Villanova and his impact in his time at Fordham, but they still maintain some optimism.

“I was really upset when I heard about Coach Wright because of what he’s built here,” sophomore Preston Muñoz said. “I’ve never heard of Kyle Neptune, but I’m excited to see what he can do.” 

Regardless of your opinion or how sad you are about “Dreamy Jay”’s departure, the Villanova community needs to rally around and welcome Coach Neptune with open arms. As many have emphasized, it will be important to remember that he is not Jay Wright. Transition takes time. It could take a year or two to get back on track, or the program could continue its upward trend. If we’re anything like the University of North Carolina, we can expect another Final Four trip next season just as their first-year head coach Hubert Davis did this past year.

Have confidence in this program and Neptune. Celebrate the impact Wright has had on the past 21 years. But more importantly, buckle up – the Neptune Era will be out of this world.