Another successful week has Villanova right back where it began the week — at the top of the AP poll.
Jay Wright's Wildcats received 45 of the 65 first-place votes this week after smacking Big 5 rival Temple, 87-67, on Wednesday to improve to 11-0 on the season and extend their record Big 5 winning streak to an unprecedented 22 games.
Junior guard Jalen Brunson was spectacular vs. the Owls with a career high 31 points. Redshirt freshman big man Omari Spellman added 27 points of his own. Those two headed a sustained attack that just smothered Temple all evening long.
This marks the second straight week the Wildcats have been atop the poll.
With the holidays approaching, the 'Cats have a quiet week this week with just a Friday night trip to Nassau Coliseum on Long Island to face Hoftsra in a game where Villanova will actually serve as the home team. Wright served as head coach at Hofstra from 1994-2001. Friday's game will be the last before Villanova hops into Big East play vs. DePaul on Dec. 27.
As for the rest of the top five this week, Michigan State held steady at No. 2, upstart Arizona state jumped all the way to No. 3, Duke stayed at No. 4 and defending champ North Carolina moved up to No. 5.
To see this week's entire AP top 25, click here.
Villanova might be losing yet another star player.
This time, redshirt freshman Omari Spellman is entering his name for the 2018 NBA draft process. But unlike Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges, Spellman won’t hire an agent. That’s an important distinction.
Basically, this will allow Spellman to test the waters of the draft with the option of pulling his name and returning to Villanova for another season. He would need to withdraw from the draft by May 30 to maintain his eligibility.
“Omari’s intelligence and willingness to be coached allowed him to make great strides last season,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said in a statement. “His development as a complete Villanova Basketball player was instrumental to our team’s success. We look forward to working together with Omari and his family in the coming weeks as they go through the process of evaluating the next step in his basketball career.”
During the 2017-18 season, Spellman was the Big East and Big 5 Rookie of the Year. He started all but one game during the season, averaging 10.9 points and 8.0 rebounds. He also led the Wildcats with 59 blocked shots. In addition to his big-man skills — Spellman is 6-9, 245 — he also hit over 43 percent of his shots from three.
While we’ve heard from Spellman, Brunson and Bridges, still no word from Donte DiVincenzo or Eric Paschall about their future. The deadline for early entry to the draft is at 11:59 p.m. on April 22.
Villanova star swingman Mikal Bridges will bypass his senior season and enter the NBA draft, the redshirt junior told ESPN Tuesday morning.
Bridges, who stands at 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, will likely be a lottery pick. He'll intrigue NBA teams as a three-and-D guy who can defend multiple positions.
"My success has been because of a lot of hard work and a lot of patience," Bridges said. "My first year in college, that was the longest time I ever sat out. Villanova and the coaches helped me to build a really strong work ethic. I didn't have as much of an ethic my freshman year, but I was pushed a lot by my coaches and that helped get me to become the player that I am."
He's expected to go around pick No. 10. That should intrigue Sixers fans since the Lakers' pick — which should finally convey this season — is likely to land around there. We outlined how Bridges would be a perfect fit alongside Joel Embiid and company last week (see story).
Along with being crowned as a national champion, Bridges was awarded the Julius Erving Award as the nation's top small forward. He was also named third team All-American and first team All-Big East.
“Mikal has been an exemplary student-athlete during his four years with us at Villanova,” Jay Wright said in a statement. “His work ethic and willingness to accept coaching have helped him grow steadily in his time here. He’s a great teammate and leader. I’m confident he will enjoy a very successful professional career.”
Bridges averaged 17.7 points and 5.3 rebounds and shot 44 percent from three during his junior season. He'll receive his degree in May.