Kyle Neptune Has the “X Factor”


Villanova Athletics

This year marks Kyle Neptune’s first year as head coach of Villanova Men’s Basketball.

Kai da Luz, Staff Writer

Five Big East men’s basketball tournament titles and two national championships in 2016 and 2018. And somehow, he’s just getting started.

Though this will be Kyle Neptune’s first year as head coach at Villanova, he is a veteran of the sport. Neptune’s relationship with Villanova’s basketball team dates back to 2008, when he was a video coordinator. He then worked as an assistant coach for Niagara’s team from 2010 to 2013, before returning to Villanova as an assistant coach under Jay Wright until 2021. Last year, Neptune was the head basketball coach at Fordham University. 

His basketball journey didn’t begin with coaching though, as Neptune also played basketball for four years at Lehigh University.

The announcement of Wright’s retirement last year was met with mixed feelings by students. Many were sad to see him go but excited for him to have more free time and were thankful for all he has done for Villanova basketball and the Villanova community. 

However, there were some worries for the future of the program. We all know that Wright was not just a coach here on campus. He was a figure almost larger than life. Wright brought with him an undeniable stage presence and capability, with a touch of showmanship. He was the kind of person who people revered on and off the court, so much so that students would freak out if they had the opportunity to bump into him and strike up a conversation on campus. 

With Wright no longer the head coach, Villanova needed someone not only to fill the role, but also to fill the cultural gap left by Wright’s transition. Villanova’s spirit has always been lifted by the face around campus that everyone knows and loves, someone who has always been able to connect with the student body and pump them up with simply a few words. 

I was really skeptical at first that Neptune, or anyone for that matter, could fill this role. 

When Neptune came up for the athletics presentation segment of Orientation, there were a lot of silent expectations. Would we see the same level of enthusiasm, passion and ability to lead a crowd as we saw with Wright? Would students raise their voices in excitement simply at the sight of him? We were all on the edge of our seats, waiting to see if Neptune could channel that same energy and love.

As soon as he started speaking, I noticed a few things. He was poised, but at the same time, relaxed and friendly. He had control of the environment, without feeling too removed or above the student body. I’m not quite sure how to describe it, but I instantly felt like Neptune too had that sort of crowd-pleasing, culture-creating “X-factor” that Villanovans have grown accustomed to.

Neptune took The Finn by storm, first introducing himself and conveying how excited he was to be there. When he called out “Nova,” Neptune practically danced on the stage in genuine excitement to the resounding call of the new students of “Nation.” The players seemed to light up in his presence. 

He was also a very confident speaker. Not once did he fumble over his words. 

For myself and many other students at Villanova who had experienced Wright, his whole performance exuded the “X-factor” that we had all grown to know and love. He made us feel seen, like each and every one of us was a part of the Villanova community and Villanova basketball.

After being with Villanova basketball for so many years, I believe that Neptune understands the underlying importance of his role on campus. To be honest, it’s a lot to carry, having to coach a successful college basketball team while also leading a culture on campus. 

And while it doesn’t make sense to look at Neptune as “the next Jay Wright,” I do believe that Neptune will develop his own “X-factor” and culture on campus, bringing together the Villanova community in an effect that goes beyond basketball.