Jalen Brunson announced through an essay on ESPN.com on Wednesday morning that he will be declaring for the NBA draft and signing with an agent.
“When I decided to commit to Coach Jay Wright and the basketball program, I was driven by three goals: getting my education, competing at the highest level and winning a national championship,” Brunson wrote, and he’s done all three. Brunson has won two national titles. He was named the 2018 NBC Sports National Player of the Year. And, more importantly, he earned his degree after just three seasons.
What does he have left to do in college?
And as a potential first round pick, it makes sense for him to go.
Brunson is a former McDonald’s All-American, but he doesn’t have the kind of physical tools that will make him a surefire lottery pick like a Collin Sexton or a De’Aaron Fox. But he’s smart — one NBC front office exec told NBC Sports that Brunson is the highest IQ player he’s ever scouted — and his talent and effect on a locker room should be enough to let him hang around the NBA for a decade.
Villanova was likely prepared for this possibility. They’ll be a little young in the back court next year, as Collin Gillispie will be an inexperienced sophomore and Jahvon Quinerly is just a freshman, but the bigger issue for Villanova was always the status of Omari Spellman and Donte DiVincenzo. With them back in the fold, the Wildcats look like they should once again challenge for a national title.