As of one week ago, the NCAA champion Villanova WIldcats had an 8-1 chance (according to Westgate Las Vegas Sportsbook) to go back-to-back and win the tournament for a second straight year.
Jay Wright’s Cats will no doubt get a huge boost as they welcome back Kris Jenkins, who contemplated a jump to the professional ranks after his junior season but decided to return to Radnor for his final year of elligiblity.
“It was a good experience going through this process but I’m looking forward to focusing on graduating next year and becoming a great leader,” Jenkins tweeted.
He is, of coursebest known — and will forever be known — for drilling the game-winning 3-pointer to beat UNC a month ago to clinch the school’s second national title.
Another junior, Josh Hart, is expected to participate in the NBA Combine prior to the draft. He will have a 10-day grace period to decide whether to return to the Main Line or take his chances in the draft this June.
If thetwo come back, they will join a loaded line up, with odds third to Kentucky and Duke to win it all once again. Several underclassman will return looking to improve on excellent performances in Nova’s record-setting year — along with two top recruits.
Here’s a way-too-early and very brief look at the Wildcats’ 2016-17 roster:
Kris Jenkins, F, SR: He will be the team’s emotional and on-court leader, and his star power will only grow as he plays for one more season in blue and white.
Josh Hart, G, SR: If he comes back, the Cats’ 1-2 punch will be deadly. Hart led the Wildcats with 15.5 points per game last year.
Darryl Reynolds, F, SR: Reynold’s will probably be a back up once again, but he’scapable of filling the role of veteran role player.
Phil Booth, G, JR: Booth hit some BIG shots in the Final Four, and he will become a big scoring threat once again in 2016-17.
Jalen Brunson, SO, G: He was pretty fantastic as a freshman, and will take a step forward as a scorer and defender as a sophomore.
Eric Paschall, SO, F: A transfer from Fordham, Paschall could be a key contributor to the Cats next year.
Mikal Bridges, SO, G: Bridges was an important asset during stretches in March and will compete for a starting guard spot.
Omari Spellman, FR, C: Spellman is a five-star recruit and the best high school prospect picked up by the Wildcats in six years. He’s big, at 6-foot-9, 287 pounds but will be a bit raw early in 2016-17.
Dylan Painter, FR, C: Another big boy, at 6-foot-10, the Hershey native was a three-star recruit and will help the Cats pick up much-needed size after Daniel Ochefu graduated.