Jalen Brunson, the No. 22 player in the ESPN 100, made his college choice Wednesday as he picked Villanova over Illinois. He visited both schools and also had Michigan State, Temple and Purdue on his list.
Why he committed: The opportunity to play early as a freshman in a system that plays a multiple-guard lineup was attractive. "There was a comfort level with coach [Jay] Wright, and he is a proven guard coach," Brunson's father, Rick, said.
What he brings: As a classic point guard, Brunson can see and read the game. There are not many guards who look to throw it into the post, but Brunson does it better than most. He's a pass-first point guard who will run the team, but he can also knock down elbow jumpers and has improved his 3-point shot into a viable option. This lefty can take a bump and protect the ball on his drive. He already owns a high basketball IQ, but he still wants to improve, as he possesses a teachable spirit to learn and grow as a player.
He also boasts a strong basketball bloodline, as his father Rick was the MVP of the McDonald's All-American game in 1991. He went on to be a standout at Temple and spent nine seasons in the NBA.
"[Jalen] brings a competitive spirit and winning to the game," Rick Brunson said.
How he fits: Wright has had tremendous success developing and winning with strong guard play, as players such as Kyle Lowry, Randy Foye, Scottie Reynolds and Mike Nardi come to mind. The Wildcats play a four-out-one-in motion offense, which usually means three- and four-guard lineups. They space the floor with two high and two wide playmakers in constant motion, exchanging and replacing each other out on the perimeter. Wright loves to keep the paint open to allow his guards to drive and score or find the next open teammate. There are plenty of random ball screens in Villanova's attack to keep the defense off balance.
Who he reminds us of: He has shades of former great Saint Joseph's and current NBA point guard Jameer Nelson. Both are built with a stocky frame and a crafty dribble to set up their teammates or score the ball with the drive or jumper. Brunson scored 56 points in the Illinois state championship game for Stevenson High, so he has shown he can carry a team as well as run one.
How the class is shaping up: With ESPN 100 guard Donte DiVincenzo already on board, along with four-star forward Tim Delaney, this class has the chance to carry the torch for the Wildcats. DiVincenzo has versatility on the perimeter with college-ready skills, such as a pull-up game and the ability to make consecutive 3s in a contest, while Delaney rebounds, runs and defends the paint. Brunson puts a bow on this senior class. The staff will now hone in on ESPN 60 prospects guard Tyus Battle and center Omari Spellman.