Jay Wright is entering his 20th season with the Villanova Wildcats. Since 2001, Wright has won two national titles, been to three Final Fours and has coached a litany of NBA talent.
Wright was this week’s guest on March Madness 365 where he and Andy Katz talked about the coronavirus pandemic and the racial-justice movements that are taking college campuses and the country by storm.
Wright was also excited about creating his ultimate Villanova dream player. He chose 10 student-athletes and broke them down into 10 different categories highlighting different basketball characteristics.
Here are Jay Wright’s top players:
The Quarterback — Ryan Arcidiacono, Guard (2012-2016)
Ryan Arcidiacono was Mr. Consistent for Jay Wright and Villanova right away when he joined the squad in 2012.
“He came in when we needed leadership and we made him captain,” Jay Wright told Andy Katz. “We made him a captain as a freshman. We needed his leadership, playmaking skills, quarterbacking right from the get-go and he did it from freshman year to senior year and completed it with a national championship.”
In 2012, Arcidiacono took that role head-on, averaging 11.9 points, 3.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He finished with a career average of 11.1 points, 3.7 assists and 1.2 steals.
The Clutch Gene — Kris Jenkins, Forward (2013-2017)
It’s hard to pick someone other than the man who made one of the most memorable shots in college basketball history — Kris Jenkins.
“You gotta go with Kris Jenkins,” Wright said. “Kris Jenkins’ shot is one for the ages.”
Jenkins hit one of the greatest buzzer-beaters of all-time against North Carolina in the 2016 National Championship game to give the Wildcats the title, cementing himself amongst the greatest March Madness moments in history.
The Athletic Wonder — Eric Paschall, Forward (2016-2019)
Eric Paschall originally started his college career in New York City playing in the Atlantic 10 conference for Fordham. After his 2014-2015 freshman season, the 6’8″ forward transfered to Villanova where Coach Wright was thrilled to have his athleticism on his squad.
“I would have to say though, pure athleticism and being an effective player would be Eric Paschall,” Wright said. “He did some ridiculous things athletically.”
Paschall joined Nova during the 2015-2016 season where they won national championship, but had to sit out a due to transfer rules. He got a ring of his own when he helped the Wildcats dominate the 2018 NCAA tournament averaging 10.6 and 5.3 rebounds per game that season.
The Bucket Getter — Scottie Reynolds, Guard (2006-2010)
Scottie Reynolds had an illustrious career at Villanova, clocking in at No. 2 on the Villanova all-time scoring list with 2,222 points. He averaged 16 points per game.
“Scottie Reynolds as a bucket getter was incredible,” Wright said. “He was elite as a college basketball player, as a guy who could just get buckets in so many different ways.”
Reynolds, who won 2006-2007 Big East Rookie of the Year started his career at Villanova averaging 14.8 points per game but he also ended his four-year career strong, averaging 18.2 points his senior season.
The Shooter — Allan Ray, Guard (2002-2006)
Jay Wright acknowledged that he has coached many great shooters over his 19 years as the head coach of the Wildcats, but taps Allan Ray for this category.
“Allan Ray for four years, he lit it up,” Wright told Katz.
Ray had his best season his senior year where he averaged 18.5 points with 3.3 three-pointers a game.
The Lockdown Defender — Mikal Bridges, Forward (2015-2018)
Mikal Bridges, who was taken No. 10 in the 2018 NBA Draft, lands here as Jay Wright’s top defender. Bridges used his length and defensive ability to help Nova win the 2016 and 2018 national titles.
“For three years he was our best defender on every team. Always played the team’s best player even if that guy was a center sometimes, or a point guard,” Wright said.
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Bridges averaged 1.4 steals per game and about one block per game as well, but he also got it done on the offensive end as he was one of the Wildcats’ top scorers during the 2017-2018 season averaging 17.7 points per game.
The Dirty Worker — Dante Cunningham, Forward (2005-2009)
Wright bounced back and forth between Daniel Ochefu, Josh Hart and Dante Cunningham before landing on Cunningham as his “dirty worker” — someone who wasn’t afraid to get under the basket and grab loose balls labeling him as his, “total best rebounder.”
Cunningham could also score and block shots averaging 16.1 points, 1.2 blocks and 7.5 rebounds per game during his senior season.
The Glue Guy — Dwayne Anderson, Guard (2005-2009)
Dwayne Anderson, who is now on Jay Wright’s coaching staff, lands here as the ultimate glue guy.
“He did things off the court, during his career that nobody knew. He was really a guy, during some rough times kept our program together,” Wright said. “In that Final Four team in ’09, he was probably the true leader of that team. He was captain and everybody listened to him.”
The Coach — Kyle Lowry, Guard (2004-2006)
Wright goes with Kyle Lowry as his coach on the floor or player who he thought had the highest basketball IQ. Lowry, who may be better known for his play on the NBA defending champions Toronto Raptors, played for two years under Jay Wright in the mid-2000s.
Lowry excelled on the defensive end as well as on the offensive side of the ball. He finished his career with 9.5 points, 3.5 boards and nearly two steals per game.
The Captain — Randy Foye, Guard (2002-2006)
Randy Foye was one of Jay Wright’s first players at Villanova as the program’s head coach. Wright credits Foye for being a key contributor to the growth of the program.
“I didn’t know what I was doing,” Wright said. “Randy kind of took over as the leader his junior year and became the ultimate captain.”
Randy Foye might have landed here as Jay Wright’s ultimate captain, but he did more than just lead. During his senior season, Foye stuffed the stat sheet for the Wildcats averaging 20.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game.
BONUS: Best All-Around — Jalen Brunson, Guard (2015-2018)
Wright had so much fun building his ultimate player that he wanted to include an extra category for who he believes was his best all-time player at Villanova — Jalen Brunson.
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“You gotta say Brunson was the all-around best Villanova player ever,” Wright told Katz.
Brunson, who helped Villanova claim the 2016 and 2018 national championship, was the 2017-2018 Wooden Award winner and the Naismith Player of the Year. He also led Villanova through the 2018 NCAA Tournament where they won their six games by an average of 18 points.