2012-2013 Overall Rank: #110
Conference Rank: #13 Big East
Villanova Team Page
With a roster that included Maalik Wayns, Dominic Cheek and Mouphtaou Yarou, Villanova was a popular sleeper pick in the Big East last season. Instead Coach Jay Wright’s squad went 5-13 in Big East play and did not fare any better out of conference. That was a Wildcats team that needed to replace some key leaders and scorers, but they had the talent. This year they have to do the former again, but many will not be as quick to think that their talent can make up for their lack of leadership.
2011-12 Record: 13-19, 5-13
2011-12 Postseason: none
Coach: Jay Wright
Coach Record: 237-130 at Villanova, 359-215 overall
Wayns and Cheek left a year early, taking their team high 17.6 and 12.5 points, respectively, with them. They both went undrafted in the 2012 NBA Draft. Wayns was also the point guard and dished out 4.6 assists per game, though he was a little turnover prone. Cheek was a big shooting guard who could attack the basket against most opposing defenders. Cheek may have been a little too trigger happy from beyond the arc, but either way, the Wildcats lost two quality players and will once again have to rebuild their backcourt. Forward Markus Kennedy opted to transfer after his freshman campaign in which he averaged 3.0 points and 4.4 rebounds.
Coach Wright has brought in some players who can make an immediate impact. The most notable is Wake Forest transfer Tony Chennault. The 6-2 point guard was granted a hardship waiver and is eligible to play in 2012-2013 after averaging 9.0 points and 2.8 assists for Wake Forest last season. The Philadelphia native will likely step right into the starting point guard role. Incoming freshman Ryan Arcidiacono will make it a good competition though. Arcidiacono is ranked as the 51st best incoming freshman by College Sports Madness and he certainly has the play making ability to make a big impact as a freshman. There may even be times when Villanova plays small, which is something Coach Wright has had success doing, and play Arcidiacono beside Chennault. Daniel Ochefu, a 6-10 post player, may need some time to adjust to life in the Big East, but he is a tough player who can physically handle most players in the Big East right now.
Who to Watch:
Yarou will turn into the new leader of this team and the offense should work through him in the post. After averaging 11.3 points and 8.2 rebounds as a junior, and actually staying in school, Yarou should be in for a big year. His interior scoring has improved and his arsenal of post moves has grown over the last couple of years. He may not block a lot of shots, but at 6-10 and 255 pounds, Yarou is a presence on the defensive end. Yarou will be joined in the frontcourt by JayVaughn Pinkston. Pinkston, a 6-7 power forward, was a pleasant surprise during his freshman campaign. He is a big bodied forward who can step out and knock down some long balls. After averaging 9.6 points and 5.2 rebounds during the 2011-2012 season, the expectations for Pinkston are growing quickly. Maurice Sutton will join Ochefu as the main options off of the bench in the frontcourt. Sutton is an experienced player, but has never been much of a scorer. However, he is the best shot blocker on the team and he will need to play 15 to 20 minutes per game unless Nova opts to play quite a bit of small ball.
But the players may not be there to play small and that is where the problem lies for this team. James Bell is a very talented player who has yet to live up to his potential. The 6-5 junior has struggled through some injuries, but he still needs to knock down the long ball more consistently. Darrun Hilliard and Ty Johnson both started nine games last year and Achraf Yacoubou started three. Those three will battle it out for a starting job beside Bell on the wing. All three of them are just sophomores, so there is plenty of potential. Hilliard has the potential to be an explosive scorer now that he has added some more strength to his 6-6 frame. Johnson is ideally a point guard, but he may lose out on that rotation with the eligibility of Chennault and the talent of Arcidiacono. However, he is a fine defender and has enough size to play off the ball. Yacoubou is another tough defender, but he may need to find his shooting touch before he can play too many minutes. At least the backcourt has options, and they are talented options, but it is hard to see this team losing Wayns and Cheek and getting better. Maybe they will share the ball better and the turnovers will go down, but that will not be enough to get Villanova competing in the Big East again…at least not yet.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Tony Chennault, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
James Bell, Junior, Guard, 7.0 points per game
Darrun Hilliard, Sophomore, Guard, 4.8 points per game
JayVaughn Pinkston, Sophomore, Forward, 9.6 points per game
Mouphtaou Yarou, Senior, Center, 11.3 points per game
Madness 2013 NBA Draft Rankings:
#9 Mouphtaou Yarou
Madness 2012 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#43 Daniel Ochefu
#51 Ryan Arcidiacono