Villanova Wildcats

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Villanova freshman dealing with NCAA issue

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The prize of Villanova’s 2016 recruiting class has hit a snag with the NCAA.

Wildcats coach Jay Wright said Omari Spellman, a top-20 recruit, will not play in games with the team on its foreign trip to Spain as there is a question regarding when his ninth-grade year began, according to ESPN’s Dana O’Neil.

Spellman is academically eligible and cleared for practice, but cannot play in games while the issue is clarified, Wright said.

The issue isn’t a new one for Spellman as it was investigated by the Ohio High School Athletic Association when he moved from New York to Ohio. The 6-foot-9 forward attended two high schools in New York. Upon transferring to the second, he was re-classified from a freshman to an eighth grader.

Villanova’s title defense certainly won’t rest on Spellman’s eligibility given how much returns from last year’s national championship team, but his presence would certainly bolster their chances, especially in the interior with Daniel Ochefu graduating.

Video: Wildcats make it the “Blue And White House”

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Villanova’s title last month gave the Wildcats the opportunity to visit with the President of the United States on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

“It is the Blue and White House today,” President Barack Obama said, “because we’re giving it up for the 2016 NCAA champion Villanova Wildcats.”

The Wildcats were customarily honored by the President on Tuesday for their 77-74 title game win over North Carolina that featured Kris Jenkins’ now-legendary 3-pointer at the buzzer.

“It might be maybe the best title game of all-time,” Obama said. “Just the last few seconds could be a documentary.”

The President mentioned Marcus Paige’s circus shot that tied the game shot seconds before Jenkins’ game-winner.

“A lot of teams would have had their spirit broken,” Obama said. “The wildcats, they took control. They responded.”

That response was Jenkins’ 3 as time expired to place himself in the game’s lore with perhaps the best finish ever for an NCAA championship game.

“That was a good shot,” Obama deadpanned. “It was like a Christian Laettner shot, it was like a Jimmy V(alvano) running up and down the court shot. Charles Barkley apparently jumped out of his seat, which he doesn’t do very often these days.”

Villanova also presented the 44th President with a No. 44 jersey that the team used on Dec. 7, 2015, at Pearl Harbor against Oklahoma.

“This is a great day for Villanova University,” coach Jay Wright said.

Wright didn’t get out of the day without a goodnatured needling from the President.

“Best-dressed man in college basketball,” Obama said. “The George Clooney of coaches.”

The President also noted that Vice President Joe Biden picked ‘Nova to win it all before the tournament.

“This team possessed something that the coaches preached since day one,” Obama said, “and that’s attitude.”

 

Villanova’s Jenkins and Hart to gauge NBA interest

Villanova guard Josh Hart (3) shoots in front of Georgetown forward Isaac Copeland (11) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Fresh off a national championship, Villanova’s junior duo of Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins will submit their names to the NBA draft without immediately hiring an agent, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Joe Juliano.
The pair, who were integral in the Wildcats’ run to the title, have Villanova coach Jay Wright’s “blessing,” Juliano wrote.
Jenkins, the 6-foot-6 forward who hit the all-time classic game-winner against North Carolina, averaged 13.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game last season while shooting 45.9 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from 3-point range. Hart, a six-foot-five guard, put up 15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game and shot 51.3 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from distance.
Neither are right now projected to be first-round picks, and it would seem that both are likely to go through the process and return to the Wildcats given their less-than-stellar draft projection, though it only takes one good workout to change scouts’ perceptions. Hart is definitely the more intriguing NBA prospect heading into this spring.

Still, at this point, it seems likely that the pair will return to help Villanova in its title defense.

Villanova’s Jenkins day-to-day with right knee sprain

Villanova forward Kris Jenkins (2) moves around Delaware forward Barnett Harris in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, in Villanova, Pa. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
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No. 17 Villanova’s win over Delaware Tuesday night came with a price, as junior forward Kris Jenkins injured his right knee during the first half of the 78-48 victory. Wednesday afternoon the school announced that an MRI as revealed that Jenkins suffered a sprain in the knee, and his status is day-to-day.

Jenkins is averaging 10.9 points and 3.0 rebounds per game on the season, and he’s emerged as a key player alongside senior Daniel Ochefu in the Villanova front court.

The Wildcats won’t play again until December 28 against Big Five rival Penn, but two days after that they open Big East play against No. 6 Xavier. The Musketeers don’t lack for depth in the front court, led by Jalen Reynolds and James Farr, so having a healthy Jenkins for that game is of high importance.

“We’re relieved and thrilled for Kris that this is not as serious as we feared it might be last night,” Wright said in the release. “Kris has worked extremely hard and is an important part of our front court. Our Team Physician, Dr. Mike Duncan, and Head Athletic Trainer, Jeff Pierce, will continue to evaluate Kris’ progress as we look forward to a busy week when we return from Christmas break.”

Foot injury sidelines Villanova freshman DiVincenzo

Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo (10) takes a shot past Nebraska forward Nick Fuller (23) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, in Villanova, Pa. Villanova won 87-63. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
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Villanova has one of the deeper backcourt rotations in the country, but Friday morning they announced that they’ll be a man short in this area for the next four to six weeks.

6-foot-6 freshman guard Donte DiVincenzo suffered a broken fifth metatarsal in his right foot, and with the school’s timeline he isn’t expected back until mid-January at the earliest. DiVincenzo missed the Wildcats’ home win over La Salle on Sunday as a result of the injury.

The freshman from Delaware is averaging just over nine minutes per game for Villanova, which relies upon the likes of Ryan Arcidiacono, Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges for their majority of the minutes on the perimeter. All five of those guards play at least 19 minutes per game with Hart leading the way at 30.4 mpg, so it’s likely that DiVincenzo’s minutes get spread amongst this quintet moving forward.

No. 9 Villanova uses 3-point shooting to beat La Salle 76-47

Josh Hart, Jordan Pric
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VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) Josh Hart scored 18 points and Ryan Arcidiacono had 14 to lead No. 9 Villanova past La Salle 76-47 on Sunday.

The Wildcats (8-1) bounced back from their first loss of the season, 78-55 to No. 7 Oklahoma on Monday. They hit 13 3-pointers and had 24 assists on 28 baskets and again flexed their muscle as the class of Philadelphia basketball.

The Wildcats have won 12 straight games in the Big 5, round-robin play among five Philadelphia Division I basketball teams that dates to 1955.

Hart connected on two straight 3s midway through the first half to open a double-digit lead, and Villanova dominated from there.

The Wildcats missed 28 of 32 3-pointers against Oklahoma. They had made 11 of 19 when they doubled up the Explorers 66-33 midway through the second half.

Villanova holds the city series record with 14 straight victories from 2004-05 to 2007-08. The Explorers beat the Wildcats three seasons ago, the year they reached the Sweet 16.

La Salle hasn’t made the postseason since that remarkable run and played like a team on the brink of extending that streak another season.

Jordan Price, who entered third in the nation in scoring at 25.9 points per game, led the Explorers with 16 points on 6-of-17 shooting.

The Wildcats reached 70 points with 6:30 left and have won 36 consecutive games when scoring at least that many.

Hart, Jalen Brunson and Arcidiacono opened the second half with 3-pointers that turned a comfortable lead into a full-blown rout. Brunson, the highly touted freshman guard, scored 13 points.

Without much reason for sustained excitement, Daniel Ochefu snapped the crowd out of a funk with three rim-shaking dunks. He also grabbed 10 rebounds.

Inside or outside, the Explorers were no match for a Villanova team again stamped the Big East favorite.

TIP-INS

La Salle: The Explorers have made a 3-pointer in 786 straight games, the 13th-longest streak in the nation. … La Salle has lost three straight games.

Villanova: F Kris Jenkins was benched for a minor academic infraction. Phil Booth got the start. Jenkins scored three points and Booth had 10. … The Wildcats had 13 assists on 14 baskets in the first half. … Coach Jay Wright emptied the bench with 2:48 left.

UP NEXT

La Salle returns from a long break for exams Dec. 22 at the Palestra against Miami.

Villanova plays Saturday at No. 10 Virginia.