Just looking at Villanova freshman Ryan Arcidiacono, he looks like the kid who’s always picked first in your Saturday rec league.
He’s young, still with that youthful freshman face that stands out amongst his older teammates, packed with raw talent, a dash of flash, and a confidence beyond his years.
As a true freshman, Arcidiacono has more or less been handed the reins of the program on the court, the starting point guard for a team that is trying to compensate for the early departure of last year’s leading scorer at that position, Maalik Wayns.
“It’s fun coaching him. Ryan is another really high IQ guy. It’s really fun,” said coach Jay Wright. “When you know a guy who knows the game and studies the game, that’s great.”
But not only is Arcidiacono walking into the starting job with a Big East program, he didn’t play his senior season at Neshaminy (Pa.) because of a back injury.
“We went out and took two transfers because I wasn’t really sure he could play,” said Wright. “I’m amazed at what he’s doing. Not basketball wise, but physically. His timing is there.”
In just his second collegiate game, Arcidiacono went for 25 points and six assists in a win over Marshall. He started out hot against Purdue with 10 points in the first half, but then cooled off in the second half. He then picked up later in the second half and overtime, finishing with 18 points and six assists. He did, though, turn the ball over seven times.
This is the up-and-down that Wright and the Wildcats are working through as Arcidiacono settles into his role. At times, glimpses of a player who could flourish in the program, at others hitting some freshman bumps in the road.
“There are some bad spots,” said Wright. “Real good experienced teams play real good forty minutes. We’re not there yet, but they’re going to be a lot better at the end of the year.”