We conclude our recruit and return series with the Villanova Wildcats. A look at what the 2018-19 season could hold:
Possible 2018-19 starting five
G: Phil Booth
Who is lost: This is a likely farewell to Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges, two of the best players in the country this past season. Brunson developed into an elite point guard, becoming more of a leader -- and a legitimate Wooden Award candidate. Meanwhile, Bridges entered Villanova as an unheralded recruit, and became a lottery pick by the end of his career. Brunson and Bridges formed arguably the best duo in college basketball this season, and will both likely leave early for the NBA.
Who is added: Coach Jay Wright is bringing in perhaps his best recruiting class in nearly a decade next season, led by five-star point guard Jahvon Quinerly. Quinerly was a one-time Arizona commit who reopened his recruitment after the FBI investigation in September. He’s a high-level playmaker who can really shoot it from the perimeter. Cole Swider and Brandon Slater are also ESPN 100 prospects. Swider is a high-ceiling player who can score at all three levels, and his size poses matchup problems. Slater buys in at both ends of the floor and will help provide wing depth as a freshman.
What it means for next season: No program in the country shakes off player departures like Villanova. The Wildcats have ready-made replacements for Brunson and Bridges, with Quinerly stepping in for Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo taking on a bigger role as a scorer. DiVincenzo is poised for a huge season offensively, and could be one of the top scorers in the Big East. Phil Booth should be back for his final season, and his ability at both ends is a boost. Up front, Eric Paschall and Omari Spellman are expected to return. Paschall is one of the best defenders in the league and can guard every position. Spellman has brought a different dimension to Villanova, given his ability to score inside and out. Collin Gillespie, Jermaine Samuels and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree are also back.
Trending: Neutral. In this case, neutral isn’t a bad thing. Villanova is arguably the best program in college basketball over the past five years, and won’t miss a beat even with the departures of Brunson and Bridges. The incoming class is terrific, and role players this season are ready to become impact contributors next season.