VUSports: Elite local recruits going away to college - is it a Philly thing or do elite level recruits from everywhere simply choose to go to the same handful of blue-blood programs.
Jay Wright: I think it is a combination of both. One of the things about recruiting that we always have to keep in mind is that they are human beings and every one of them is different. Even though you see a trend, it only takes one, unique guy to break that trend. The trends you are referring to - I do think guys get enthralled with Kentucky and Kansas and Duke and Carolina - those names ... that is something that you have to deal with. There are two kinds of competition. There is the competitiveness in recruiting - almost the scorekeeping in recruiting and you have to do your best at that and then there is the scorekeeping in terms of how many games you win and championships and NCAA Tournament appearances. It is not just winning games anymore that you get evaluated on so we have to be aware of that and we are. We certainly don’t like that guys go away. I wish in some way guys would start to think of Villanova the way they do Kansas, Duke and Kentucky but we don’t control that. All we can do is keep doing the best that we can do … keep upgrading our facilities, keep our facilities fresh, keep our program branded in a way that players see it as attractive … and we work hard at that every day. We aren’t giving up on those local guys. There are a few that we are recruiting right now. It only takes one guy to break that trend and that is how we look at it. We don’t look at it like “we are not going to go after those guys because this is what kids do”. We are going to go after each guy individually.
VUSports: Have you seen a recruiting bump from the 2016 Championship?
Jay Wright: We have seen a little bit of a bump. I wouldn’t say it is one that breaks that aura of Kentucky, Duke and Kansas. But, definitely there is an attractiveness to Villanova to these guys. There is an open door to every recruit. For us it is about getting the right guy and for the recruits it is about finding a position where they can come in and start. We are just going to have to find those unique situations that fit.
VUSports: Has there ever been a situation where the staff believes a recruits decision may have been swayed positively or negatively because of something written on VUSports making an impression on a recruit or on people close to him?
Jay Wright: VUSports generally has been a very positive factor in our recruiting. The recruits and their families are very well informed and they use the sites - especially as they get close to their decision-making - they are following everything. An interview like this could sway one of them and they might not tell you why - positively or negatively. I think they like keeping that information to themselves. I think for us generally that the passion of the people on VUSports and the general consistency between the philosophy of our program and the philosophy of our fan base is unique. Great programs have it. Our program and our fans are unique and I think people respect it. The key is that we are in concert in terms of understanding what our program is about and believing in it - I think it is pretty positive.
VUSports: Please describe the recruiting process you normally go through - the timeline for the typical recruit you successfully land from start to finish.
Jay Wright: It starts, usually, in their Freshman or Sophomore year in terms of pure talent. It starts with identifying talent. Once we identify the talent, then it is an investigative process to learn, number one, if they are interested and, number two, based on the people around them, in their circle, if they would fit into our culture. You can never deny the fact that it starts with talent. Then, you are investigating their circle, their coach, their family, whoever is in their life and if those people would accept the Villanova culture. Then, it is getting them to campus and not “wow-ing them with bells and whistles” but educating them as to what our culture is about and trying to educate them on how being a part of this would really give them the best opportunity to be the best all-around person they can be: the best student, the best player, and the best person in the end. As we are educating them, they are getting to know you and you are getting to know them and starting realize if that is appealing to them when they compare it to say a “one-and-done culture”. You are educating but also listening and trying to learn whether you know what they are hearing elsewhere and what they are hearing here and trying to determine whether they are going to choose us. That is really what it is - they choose us. So we have to be smart about not wasting time on guys we know aren’t going to choose us and making sure that we really get the guys where we know if we really do a good job on them that they are going to believe this is the best place for them.
VUSports: And that is usually by Junior year …
Jay Wright: Usually by Junior year we have a good feel - mid-way through their high school year, we have a good feel for who really fits and who would really want Villanova.