Culminating in their historic National Championship this past season, the Villanova Wildcats have experienced tremendous success over the past sixteen years under the guidance of head coach Jay Wright. The two-time Naismith College Coach of the Year has commandeered one of the most prosperous eras of college hoops in the history of the storied Philadelphia Big Five.
Villanova’s rise to national prominence has been the result of Wright and his staff returning to the recruitment of “program” players, young student-athletes who understand the core values of what is most important to Villanova basketball – hard work, unselfishness and sacrifice. An essential component to the program’s success, Wright’s invaluable pursuits on the NCAA recruiting trail throughout his tenure have included the commitments of numerous high-profile recruits to the University.
Looking ahead to the 2017-18 season, Jay Wright has secured three commitments thus far to help fill the void that will remain after the graduations of Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins and Darryl Reynolds. While that is a ton of talent leaving the program, the Wildcats will also regain the services of formally top-15 ranked big man Omari Spellman, who will begin his Villanova career in 2017 after having to take an academic red-shirt during the current season. With Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Phil Booth, Eric Paschall and Donte DiVincenzo remaining on the roster to help indoctrinate the incoming freshmen, the Wildcats should still be in good shape to compete once again in the ever-improving Big East Conference.
Additionally, one of Jay Wright’s top targets for next season remains undeclared as of this posting. Jordan Tucker, a 6’7 forward out of Wheeler High School in Marietta, Georgia, has recently cut his list of potential landing spots to two – Indiana and Villanova. The final signing date for 2017-18 prospective student-athletes is May 17th, and some athletes do take the entire available time period in order to make their decision. Landing Tucker would be a huge boost to the recruiting class, considering the fact that he is currently a top-50 nationally ranked recruit. I have provided his scouting report from ESPNU.com…
- Position: Small Forward
- Hometown: Marietta, GA
- High School: Wheeler High School
- Height/Weight: 6’7/210 lbs.
- AAU Team: NY Rens
- Player Grade: 88 (4-star)
- Position: 9
- Regional: 11
- State: 5
- National: 40 (ESPN100)
Jordan is big strong wing forward that has a skill set to score from the perimeter and around the rim. He is a good 3 point shooter from beyond three when taking good shots and has the ability to create for himself out on the perimeter. He can set the ballscreen and pop for shot or use the ballscreen with his dribbling skills. Jordan is a mismatch for an opponent that puts a smaller defender on him because of his versatility. He can be a great rebounder as he matures especially on the offensive end. He has a very good mid range game with his size that you don’t see too much anymore. Can also post up on the block and bully his way to the rim if need be.
Despite Jordan being a mismatch on the offensive end, at this point he is going to have a hard time defending a quick athletic wing from the small forward positon. He has average lateral quickness which will have to improve at the next level. Also, with experience down the road his decision making off the dribble will improve. At times can force shots as he tries to out tough smaller defenders in the lane.
Jordan is a big strong forward with elite skills for his size and strength. His potential down the road is very high because of his versatility. Definitely an unfinished product which is very good for the high major program that ends up landing him.
Here are the scouting reports for the incoming freshman class as well as Omari Spellman’s scouting report from a year ago. As of right now, the 2017 class as a whole is ranked 36th in the nation (not including Spellman).
Jermaine Samuels (signed NLI 8/27/2016)
- Position: Small Forward
- Hometown: Mansfield, MA
- High School: The Rivers School
- Height/Weight: 6’6/205 lbs.
- AAU Team: Expressions Elite
- Player Grade: 87 (4-star)
- Position: 10
- Regional: 10
- State: 2
- National: 45 (ESPN100)
Samuels is a high level young talent who can really score the basketball. He owns a good one-on-one skill set and a special ability to make tough shots. He scores in a variety of different ways for a young player and can play both forward positions although he projects out as more of a big wing in the future. He’s a very good athlete with increasing power in his frame. He gets to the rim with straight line drives and short rip moves alike and is a very good finisher with body control, dexterity, and good natural instincts. He’s very agile and able to make subtle changes in direction while in attack mode, has a short-pull-up game, gets easy points in transition and on the offensive glass, and can also make some jumpers.
He’s an early bloomer in terms of his size and athleticism and right at the moment he is far more consistent from 12 feet and in. He’s going to have to continue to develop his total skill set while also extending his game to the perimeter on a more consistent basis. His handle will need to progress before he can play against pressure or be a consistent creator in a half-court game. He’ll also need to polish his shooting mechanics and become more consistent from the three-point line.
He’s a highly talented young player with physical tools, natural instincts, and developing skills that all contribute into making him one of the top scorers in the class of 2017.
Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (signed NLI 4/22/2016)
- Position: Power Forward
- Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
- High School: Neumann-Goretti HS
- Height/Weight: 6’9/210 lbs.
- AAU Team: Team Final
- Player Grade: 81 (4-star)
- Position: 31
- Regional: 33
- State: 4
- National: Unranked
Cosby is an athletic and mobile big man who is evolving at a rapid rate and full of intangibles. He has a terrific motor, plays hard all the time, rim runs in transition extremely well and is bouncy around the paint. He has good hands, touch and dexterity. He dunks with both hands on the move, gets quick separation when rolling off a ball-screen and is a live body around the rim. Defensively, he has the combination of size and mobility to defend multiple frontcourt positions and be an asset in various pick-and-roll coverages as well as a quality weak-side shot-blocker. He’s not deterred by contact inside and is very active rebounding the ball off both backboards as well. Offensively, he’s most valuable as a finisher – which comes through in transition, pick-and-roll and on the offensive glass – but his soft touch is gradually extending away from the basket as well. He’s an outstanding teammate and terrific “program” type guy.
He’s really evolving from a player who came up the ranks as a hybrid style big man into more of a true forward. He needs to continue to fill out his frame and develop his upper body strength while ideally maintaining the quickness and mobility that, along with his motor, is part of his value. Offensively, he’s still a work in progress. He only has a very basic post-up game and doesn’t project to be a back-to-the-basket player at the next level, nor is his shooting range yet consistent enough to be a good floor spacer at the four.
He’s a long and athletic forward in the making loaded with intangibles and all the personality characteristics for success. He’s a quality rebounder and potentially elite defender, who scores primarily off his energy and athleticism right now but is bound to continue to expand his skill set.
Collin Gillespie (committed 1/14/2017)
- Position: Point Guard
- Hometown: Warminster, PA
- High School: Archbishop Wood HS
- Height/Weight: 6’1/165 lbs.
- AAU Team: Team Final
- Player Grade: 64 (2-star)
- Position: 81
- Regional: 93
- State: 14
- National: Unranked
At his best, Collin is a younger version of Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova), complete with the savvy (vision), stroke, solid handle and slew of intangibles to make any coach very comfortable giving him the ball at the beginning, middle and, particularly, the end of a game. But for Collin, it all starts with the stroke, as he has excellent ‘beyond-the-3’ range and mechanics that rarely, if ever, change. Teams will have to commit at least 1 and one half defenders to Collin at all times.
As with his aforementioned “Arch” comparison, Collin is not blessed with the greatest of foot speed. Collin is not slow, but defensive quickness can get underfoot this heady quarterback and unsettle him some. Needs to get quicker defensively, too, though, at this juncture, he seems to understand keeping people in front is sufficient in one-on-one matchups with friskier foes. Handle can improve to assist in freeing him up for tasks his position will ask him to do with the ball at the next level.
Invariably you will hear coaches – mostly college coaches – crib after a loss about needing “guys who know how to play” and “kids who can shoot the ball.” Well here is a kid who has both, in spades. So, there oughta’ be a line out Archbishop Wood’s door for the services of this young man and for all of the sundry skills and, again, intangibles, this floor general brings to the court every night.
- Position: Power Forward
- Hometown: North Royalton, OH
- High School: St. Thomas More
- Height/Weight: 6’9/250 lbs.
- Player Grade: 93 (5-star)
- Position: 5
- Regional: 3
- State: 1
- National: 18
Spellman is a very talented offensive player who has consistently taken his game to new levels throughout his high school career. He’s got a super soft touch that extends all the way out to the arc and both as a trail big as well as in pick and pop action. He uses his wide frame and good footwork to create space for short-jumpers from the mid and high posts. He has outstanding hands, good ability to see the court and pass out of a double team at such a young age, and good sheer force at the rim. He is very agile and deceptively athletic for his size, getting off his feet quickly to finish with authority, making quick rolls off ball-screens, or even handling the ball in the open floor after pulling down a defensive rebound.
He’s a natural wide-body who is going to have to always be cognizant of his conditioning. He has a tendency to settle for tough jumpers at times and can struggle with balance when he starts kicking out his legs. He would do well to further develop a go-to move on the block that takes him towards the rim. Spellman is more of a positional defender who can struggle against hybrid style bigs that can bother him with their length and mobility.
A wide-bodied and skilled big man with great hands, agility, and deceptive athleticism, Spellman has separated himself with his ability to score on multiple levels.