Less than a week ago, Villanova head coach Jay Wright learned of A.J. Reeves’ commitment to Ed Cooley and the Providence Friars. Reeves, who had listed the Wildcats in his “final four” of college choices, was one of Wright’s most sought-after recruits for the 2018 class.
Swider committed to Jay Wright and the Wildcats over Xavier, Duke and Syracuse. Villanova was the only school to not receive an official visit in the days leading up to the announcement. At face value, this is a massive recruiting victory for Wright and his staff over two rivals and a blue blood program (this makes two straight cycles Wright has beaten out Coach K for a prospect).
Swider has been a breakout performer this spring and summer for BABC on the Nike EYBL circuit and is widely known as one of the best shooters in the country. He has shown an expansive game driving the ball and hitting the glass. That skillset should thrive in the Villanova 4-in-1-out system.
Expect Villanova to turn up the heat on their remaining guard prospects. They’re still seeking a point guard and are looking strong with both Jahvon Quinerly and Elijah Weaver. If the ‘Cats can land one or the other, they will likely opt to see what type of roster attrition occurs and see if they can stay in it for 5-star local prospect Cam Reddish.
Just twice before has Villanova brought in more than two top-100 players, and it’s fair to point out that those classes worked out very differently. More highly-ranked talent doesn’t necessarily mean more winning for ‘Nova, though at this point I think Jay has it figured out. He hasn’t missed on his evaluations much lately.
Villanova looks capable of bringing in at least three top-100 players, if not a fourth. That’s how you (continue to) build title-caliber teams. With two high-level wings on board in Brandon Slater and Cole Swider for 2018, the remaining need is for a point guard.
Position: Power Forward
Height/Weight: 6’8/205 lbs.
Hometown: Providence, RI
High School: St. Andrew’s
Swider is one of the elite shooters in the national class. His release is pure and quick with the ability to make shots in bunches and in any number of ways – running to spots in transition, coming off screens, or off the dribble. Ironically, the area where we haven’t seen him utilized much to date, in pick-and-pop action, is perhaps the area he has the most potential with his size. He’s evolved nicely athletically, getting both lighter on his feet and showing some bounce when his momentum is at his back. He’s a very good ball-handler for his size within the flow of the offense, able to drive close-outs effectively, and surprisingly effective inside the lane with a series of flip shots and floaters. What separates him from other potential shooting forwards or stretch-fours is the confidence and competitive edge he plays with.
He’s a little limited laterally on the defensive end and so while his skill set may lead some to describe him as a big wing, he’s a straight stretch-four right now based on his defensive abilities. The problem is that he doesn’t always rebound the ball well enough off the defensive glass at that spot. Offensively, he has a tendency to hunt shots at times, especially when he isn’t being utilized consistently within the flow of the game, and his stroke can get a little flat at times when he starts forcing it. His general energy level can be impacted by his offensive involvement as well. He’s not the type of guy who is going to consistently create his offense off the dribble and needs to be a little bit more willing passer at times as well.
Swider is an elite shooter who plays the game with a confidence and edge that makes him capable of catching fire offensively at virtually any given time. He’s evolved nicely physically, but needs to continue to work on his consistency on the defensive end as well as on the glass.