Jay Wright

Villanova forward Kris Jenkins (2) reacts to play against North Carolina during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Monday, April 4, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Villanova’s Jenkins to return for senior season

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After briefly taking part in the NBA Draft evaluation process, Villanova forward Kris Jenkins announced Monday night that he’s decided to withdraw and return to school for his senior year. Jenkins, whose three-pointer as time expired gave the Wildcats the win over North Carolina in the national title game, announced the news via Twitter.

2015-16 was a breakout season for Jenkins, who moved into the starting lineup and averaged 13.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. The 6-foot-6 forward shot 45.9 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from beyond the arc, and with starters Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu graduating he’ll have even more opportunities to produce next season.

Jenkins’ decision to return leaves wing Josh Hart as the lone Wildcats going through the early entry process at this time. Hart was a first team All-Big East selection as a junior, and his return would be the final piece to the puzzle for a team that many expect to be a national title contender in 2016-17.

Jenkins and Hart wouldn’t be the only returnees who had a part in the national title run, with guards Jalen Brunson and Phil Booth, wing Mikal Bridges and forward Darryl Reynolds back as well. To that group Villanova adds Fordham transfer Eric Paschall and a recruiting class anchored by Omari Spellman and Dylan Painter with Donte DiVincenzo and Tim Delaney available after being hampered by injuries last season.

Delaney missed all of last year after undergoing surgical procedures on his hips, and DiVincenzo played a total of 74 minutes over the first nine games before having to sit due to a broken foot.

College names surface in reports regarding Lakers coaching vacancy

Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie has a word with guard Rodney Purvis (44) during an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Paradise Island, Bahamas. (Brad Horrigan/The Courant via AP)
Brad Horrigan/The Courant via AP
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With some NBA head coaching jobs opening up, it’s that time of year when the names of prominent college basketball head coaches get mentioned for such opportunities. Of course we’ve all become used to the annual rumors involving Kentucky head coach John Calipari, who has yet to move away from one of the top jobs in the sport.

His name is one that has come up in recent reports surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers’ opening, with Connecticut’s Kevin Ollie and Villanova’s Jay Wright among those being mentioned by various outlets as well.

Ollie, who led his alma mater to a national title in his second season at the helm, was mentioned in reports by both Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com.

Ollie told ESPN’s Andy Katz on Monday that he has had no contact with the Lakers. He said he will always listen if called but it would take “something very special” to pull him away from UConn.

Ollie’s contract, which was signed after he led the Huskies to the national title in 2014, has a clause that would allow him to terminate his contract without penalty “on or after the one-year anniversary” of the departure of either athletic director Warde Manuel or UConn president Susan Herbst. Manuel left UConn in January to take over as athletic director at Michigan (his first official day was March 14), so a departure now would not meet the one-year requirement.

The buyout to leave for an NBA job would be $4 million until May 31, with the buyout amount dropping to $1 million after that date.

The latter report also named Wright, Calipari, Tom Izzo and Roy Williams as names the Lakers could consider for their opening. Wright led Villanova to its second national title earlier this month, and his Wildcats have won the last three Big East regular season titles.

NBA franchises have been more willing to look at successful college coaches in recent years, with Fred Hoiberg and Billy Donovan making the jump to the pros last season. Hoiberg took over in Chicago, but things didn’t go as planned for the Bulls as they missed out on the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season. As for Donovan, he’s running the show in Oklahoma City where the Thunder are up three games to one on the Mavericks.

Both coaches took jobs with (at first glance) the talent needed to be successful, which is a far cry from the jobs Calipari and Rick Pitino took with the Nets and Celtics respectively during the mid-1990’s. Does the Lakers job fit that mold? Having won a total of 38 games in their last two seasons, not to mention needing to fill the hole left by the retirement of Kobe Bryant, one can argue that this would not be an optimal job for a college coach to take.

But with the Lakers being a franchise that’s won 16 titles, the appeal of leading such a storied franchise can’t be denied even with the recent struggles.

PHOTO: Phil Martelli ‘re-labels’ Big 5 Coach of the Year award

Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli watches from the bench in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Villanova, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson

Monday night the Philadelphia Big 5 held its annual postseason awards dinner, an event in which La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova get together to honor the city’s best players and teams from the season. Among those honored at the dinner was St. Joseph’s head coach Phil Martelli, who after leading his team to an Atlantic 10 tournament title and the second round of the NCAA tournament was named Big 5 Coach of the Year.

However in receiving the honor Martelli made sure to show some respect to rival head coach Jay Wright, who led Villanova to a third straight Big East regular season title and the program’s second national title. Add in the fact that Villanova won the Big 5 for the third consecutive season.

So what did Martelli do with his trophy? He wrote “Jay Wright” on a Post-it note and applied it to the trophy.

VIDEO: Jay Wright’s reaction to the Kris Jenkins game-winner

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Kris Jenkins’ three-pointer as time expired gave No. 2 Villanova a 77-74 win over No. 1 North Carolina in Monday’s national title game, the program’s second national title. But for as stunning as the finish was for many who watched it all unfold, beginning with Marcus Paige’s incredible double-clutch three with 4.7 seconds remaining, one key figure didn’t seem stunned at all.

That person was none other than Villanova head coach Jay Wright. As he watched Jenkins rise up for the game winner the head coach simply said “bang,” and he didn’t have much of a reaction after the fact either.


Never in doubt.

Credit: The Cauldron

VIDEOS: Villanova wins second national title on wild sequence


After two duds in Saturday’s national semifinals, No. 2 Villanova and No. 1 North Carolina produced a national title game we won’t soon forget.

The Wildcats won 77-74 on a Kris Jenkins three as time expired, but his heroics came 4.7 seconds after North Carolina’s Marcus Paige hit a double-clutch three to tie the game.

And here’s the game-winner from Jenkins, who’s earned the nickname “Big Smooth” from his teammates, with Villanova winning its second national title in program history. The first came in 1985, when the Wildcats knocked off Big East rival Georgetown.

VIDEO: Early-season loss to Oklahoma benefitted Villanova

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Saturday’s national semifinal between No. 2 Villanova and No. 2 Oklahoma was a rematch of a game played in Hawaii on December 7, with the Sooners winning by 23 points in a game that wasn’t all that close. The second meeting of the season was even less competitive, with Jay Wright’s Wildcats rolling to a 95-51 victory to advance to Monday’s title game.

Following the game Wright made note of that first meeting, saying that it helped his team when it came to the rematch.