Arcidiacono sidelined by back pain

Ryan Arcidiacono (Langhorne, Pa./Neshaminy) is on the shelf and he’s one of those guys that the physical pain will dwarf the mental anguish of not being able to participate in basketball his senior year.

Arcidiacono will have surgery to repair a ruptured disc this month. He tried rehab, got cortisone shots and while things worked in moderation, none fixed the problem. Eighteen-year old kids shouldn’t have herniated discs at all, let alone worry about getting them removed. But, if you’ve ever watched this kid play and watched him get after it with little regard for his body, things would make more sense.

The Villanova-bound senior is one of the toughest point guards I’ve seen in some time. Upon hearing that he was going to miss his senior year because of a back problem, the thought that this was self-induced immediately crossed my mind. “Arch” is the guy with the bruises and scratches that are indicators of his rugged style. The first time I ever saw him he had stitches above his eye. Did I mention he’s a point guard?

Shortly after his junior season, Arcidiacono herniated a disc in his back. “It happened a couple of days after my high school season,” Arcidiacono said. “Maybe it was using a weight vest, I don’t know. It was eventually going to happen. It’s a blessing in disguise that it happened before college because that’s what’s most important to me.”

What’s never been important to Arcidiacono are the individual honors or hype. He’s the last guy who would worry about things like the McDonald’s game or all-american lists. Because of the injury, he’s not going to be in those games. He won’t even have a shot at playing in them since he’s on the shelf. The reality is, the NBAPA Top 100 Camp was the last time he was on the national stage. He missed LeBron’s camp because of the injury. In terms of being off the radar, he’s been the guy with the least hype.

So, who is this kid and why did Villanova want him? The reason is simple: leadership. He was only one of three point guards invited to the NBPA Top 100 Camp as a rising junior in 2010. The next year, he served as one of the leaders at the camp and even though he wasn’t 100 percent, you’d have never known. Excuses aren’t a big part of this guy’s makeup. Toughness? Now, that he gets from his pop. Joe Arcidiacono played football at Villanova during the Howie Long Era. He passed his passion for sports onto his son.

Arcidiacono has March circled on his calendar. That’s the next time he hopes to be able to lace them up. “It’s tough. Not being able to play my senior year and play with the guys I’ve been with for so long. It’s tough. My teammates need to know that I’ll be at every practice and every game. I’ll be there for them. Why not be there with them when I’m hurt? I’d have been there if I was healthy.”

In the fall of 2012, Villanova coach Jay Wright will have the services of a healthy Arcidiacono. Even though the guard won’t be playing his final year of high school ball, the coach knows exactly what he has coming to campus.