There are two key AAU events taking place Memorial Day weekend in Los Angeles CA and VUSports will be there reporting on prospects of interest to Villanova from the High School Classes of 2018 and 2019. To put some context around the 2018 players you will be learning more about, here is a synopsis of where the ‘Nova roster stands, what holes need to be filled and which key targets could potentially be brought in to address those gaps.
Throughout this spring the Wildcat staff has been evaluating and prioritizing players and keeping steady communication with key prospects. It is important to keep in mind that “roster uncertainty” could have an impact on the eventual composition of the ‘Nova recruiting class of 2018. There are currently twelve (of the maximum allowable thirteen) scholarships spoken for on the Wildcat roster / commit list for 2018 and there are no Seniors (from a playing eligibility standpoint) among the eleven. Theoretically, all eleven players on the 2017-18 roster could return to play during the 2018-19 season. However, the likelihood of that is small and the Cats must recruit accordingly.
The current scholarship roster includes four Juniors, three Sophs, and four Freshmen. Of those players a handful could potentially decide to move on after the 2017-18 season and free up spots in the rotation for incoming Frosh from the High School Class of 2018.
Players who could potentially leave early include:
Junior PG, Jalen Brunson
Freshman F, Omari Spellman
Junior F, Mikal Bridges
Junior G, Phil Booth (on track to earn his degree in Spring of 2018)
Soph G, Donte DiVincenzo
Junior F, Eric Paschall
Instead of trying to account for every permutation and combination of possibilities from this list of six players, let’s make the reasonable assumption that the players with the most NBA buzz at the end of the 2016-17 season will make additional progress and decide to move on and that the others decide to stay. With this assumption made, Villanova should recruit the High Class of 2018 with the expectation that Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges and Omari Spellman will not be on the 2018-19 roster but all others will remain.
Based on the assumption above, there will be eight scholarships spoken for and a maximum of five remaining to be given out to the High School Class of 2018. The recruiting effort needs to focus on finding prospects to complement and/or under-study behind this projected 8-man rotation:
G: Phil Booth (Sr), Collin Gillespie (So)
G: Donte DiVincenzo (Jr), Brandon Slater (Fr)
G: Jermaine Samuels (So)
F: Eric Paschall (Sr), Tim Delaney (Jr)
F: Dylan Painter (Jr), Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (So)
Another high quality recruit or two could certainly find adequate playing time as a Frosh blending with those nine players above. The best perimeter player has a good shot to earn playing time as one of the six perimeter/outside players in the mix. A player with interior ability or perhaps some stretch-4 talents could blend into a rotation with Cosby-Roundtree, Paschall and Painter where the players were paired in line-ups together based on match-ups and their blend of ability to defend the perimeter and play facing the bucket.
The projected rotation above points towards the following “needs list” (given not only the needs for 2018-19 but the need to groom replacements for the Booth, Paschall, DiVincenzo triumvirate that will be the next group to leave the program.
- a point guard / combo-guard with ball-handling / play-making skills
- a wing or two - preferably one with shooting ability (Brandon Slater addresses this need - though he does not have a rep as a dead-eye shooter)
- a big forward with some projected scoring ability that could play some interior minutes
One could also view the primary need, independent of position, as “go-to scoring ability” to back-fill for the significant scoring/shooting ability lost over two seasons (between Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, Jalen Brunson, Omari Spellman and Mikal Bridges). Yes, some of the players in the remaining eight-man rotation have scoring ability and will take on more of the scoring load - but two of those are Booth and Paschall and they will be Seniors … and if DiVincenzo continues at his rate of development he could be a Junior with one foot out the door by the time 2018-19 rolls around.
All of these things considered, the Class of 2018 could be anywhere from a two-man to a four-man class - more likely two than four but most likely a three-man class.
At this time, there are three point guard / combo guard prospects that have bubbled to the top of the list for the Cats. They are Jahvon Quinerly, David Duke and Elijah Weaver.
Villanova just landed a verbal from Brandon Slater and are involved with additional wings: Cole Swider, A.J. Reeves, and Cameron Reddish.
As far as interior prospects, Jalen “Sticks” Smith and Jake Forrester are the two players in the picture right now.
There are certainly other players out there being evaluated and recruited to varying degrees. The names on the list in the Spring are always in flux and there are “puts and takes” as the Fall early signing period approaches … but, for now, those eight names above seem to be most frequently bubbling near the surface. Players like Cormac Ryan, Nate Laszewski, Devon Dotson seem to be more on the “back burner” at this point.
VUSports will be covering not only the newest commit, Bradon Slater but also: Quinerly, Weaver, Swider, Reddish, Smith, Forrester, and Ryan from the Class of 2018 this coming weekend - as well as another ten or so players from the Class of 2019. There is too much roster uncertainty between what players stay for 2018-19 and how many 2018 recruits are brought in to realistically project needs for the Class of 2019 right now. Our coverage of the 2019s will focus on player evaluation, projecting best positions for players and projected “fit”.
The VUSports Villanova Recruiting Depth Chart has links to the player pages for all of these players and more from the Classes of 2018 through 2020.