VUSports: Regarding Phil Booth's health prognosis moving forward - what was described as tendonitis turned into a missed season. Now that he is back, is he 100%?, what is the confidence level going into next season? … is it a long-term concern?
Jay Wright: It is a nagging, and I use the term tendonitis because it is not a serious issue, but it is a nagging, tendonitis sort of issue and I am not really sure. It is just one of those things where we are going to have to get into the season and see what he can do day in and day out. He has done our workouts in the spring but we still back him off. We still don’t have him do two-a-days. We still, honestly, can’t give you an answer until we get into November and see how he handles September and October because even this summer we are not going to have him go 100%.
Jay Wright: Cosby-Roundtree had a minor surgery on a stress fracture on his shin. So he had that last week and they say he should be fine. We will get him back in July and with him we have to see how he handles all that. Collin Gillespie - I don’t think he is going to excite anybody or blow anybody away but I know he excites our staff and our team because he is just solid and efficient. His game translates - he looks the same playing against our guys as he does in a high school game. He is just efficient and solid which again doesn’t catch the eye of highlight films but it is really effective for a basketball team. Jermaine Samuels has the chance, physically, to be a great defender and rebounder immediately at the collegiate level. How he adjusts offensively I could give you a better answer after the summer. It is one of the benefits of being able to work with the guys over the summer because you can get on the floor with them and you can tell in practices and situations that you set up on the floor how they are going to react come the season. Whereas in the past they could play pick-up and you couldn’t watch them and you really didn’t know anything until the fall.
VUSports: How will Omari Spellman be used offensively?
Jay Wright: Every way we can [laughing]. Last year he showed the ability to do everything - play in the post, play on the perimeter. I think he can be as versatile a player as Eric Paschall - just bigger.
VUSports: Of the 10 scholarship guys most likely to compete for minutes in the rotation next season, three are predominantly viewed as interior players and a fourth, Eric Paschall, played a lot of interior minutes last season - will you play two bigs together more than ever before or do you intend to perhaps move Paschall to the perimeter and then have Dylan Painter , Spellman & Cosby-Roundtree battle it out for the interior minutes?
Jay Wright: As you know, we are not as position-oriented as most teams. What we do like about all of them - all the way to Dylan Painter - is that they are pretty versatile basketball players. That is what we like. So, we are not going to be afraid to play two of those bigger guys. One of the things Omari has showed us and that we hope Dhamir can do is defend on the perimeter and allow us to play two of the bigs together so we will certainly not be afraid to do that. The other part of it is that our more experienced players are our perimeter players and we tend to go with the more experienced guys. So I think you will see a combination. Some line-ups where we go with a lot of perimeter players out there, maybe five, and some line-ups where you have two bigs out there.
VUSports: Mikal Bridges has been off the charts efficient as an offensive player to date - how is he equipped to handle an increased scoring burden - open threes, transition baskets, and the occasional take off the bounce have been his staples. How are his mid-range and break-down dribble game progressing?
Jay Wright: Just continuing to become complete. We want all of our players to be complete. It is one of the things that is encouraging me when Josh Hart goes to these workouts. That is what all the NBA guys say about him - he is position-less, he is a complete player. They kind of look at Kris Jenkins that way. Mikal could be that way. Mikal can add a midrange game, can add a better handle and better decisions in pick-and-roll, kind of how Josh did this year. They are different players physically, but I can see him becoming a complete player in a similar way that Josh Hart did.
VUSports: Kris Jenkins experienced a drop off in his offensive efficiency and shooting percentages as a Senior compared to how he performed as a Soph and certainly as a Junior - to what do you primarily attribute the drop-off?
Jay Wright: I think Kris actually got better as a player. He was better conditioned. He was better defensively. He was a better decision-maker and he was a better leader as a Senior. I think the fact that the opponent put their best defender on him a lot this year was something that affected him individually but helped our team and helped Josh Hart have a great year. It helped Jalen Brunson have a great year. In the past, Ryan Arcidiacono or Daniel Ochefu a lot of times would get the best defender and I think Kris was a huge factor for his offensively. Teams learned that they had to shut him down. I have never seen a player defended in terms of taking away threes as much as he was. Guys would stay with him on the weak side … they would run at him … he got better at driving the ball. They kept longer defender on him and that is why he got to the rim. It affected his post up. A lot of times Daniel would get the bigger defender and we would post-up Kris. A lot of times they put the bigger defender on Kris, not let him get threes, and it was tough to post him up. It might have affected Kris individually but: Big East Championship, we finished number one in the country, Josh Hart Player of the Year … teams determined: “we are not going to let Kris Jenkins beat us” and ever body else benefitted.