Future Wildcat Brunson competes in All-American game

Greg Habeeb

As the calendar turns from March to April, Villanova basketball fans can begin the process of looking towards next season. That process was officially underway last week, when five-star point guard recruit Jalen Brunson took the floor as part of the McDonald’s All-American festivities.

Brunson, who committed to Villanova in September, won the Powerade Jam Fest Skills Competition on March 30th before competing in the All-American game on April 1.

In the Skills Competition the Lincolnshire, Ill native flashed many of the tools of the trade Villanova fans hope to see next season, weaving through the course in just over 30 seconds. Brunson’s closest competitor, Villa Angela-St. Joseph forward Carlton Bragg, finished 2.2 seconds slower with a time of 32.8 seconds. 

Two days later, Brunson applied the skills shown earlier in the week to an actual game situation. 

Brunson directed the offense for the West team, scoring six points on 2 of 7 shooting while snatching seven rebounds and dishing out four assists in 21 minutes. Brunson also had four turnovers, although those miscues were generally a result of the fast and loose nature of the all-star game. 

Ultimately, it was a quiet night for Villanova’s prized recruit, who failed to dominate the proceedings the way he had dominated the Illinois public school circuit over the course of his high school career. However, there were still moments of brilliance for Brunson that showed he will be able to compete at a high level for the Wildcats next season. 

With 4:56 remaining in the first half, Brunson spun off of his defender and dribbled through traffic at the foul line. As he rose for a layup attempt, he switched from his dominant left hand to his right hand in mid-air to avoid a weak side block attempt. It was a shot with an advanced degree of difficulty and Brunson made it look effortless, converting the attempt with a soft touch off the glass. 

With six months remaining until the Wildcats take the floor again, that singular moment of brilliance from Brunson will have to be enough to hold over ’Nova fans until October. If last week was any indication, it is clear that those six months will be worth the wait.