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2019 NBA draft profile: Why Sixers might want to keep Eric Paschall in town

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2019 NBA draft profile: Why Sixers might want to keep Eric Paschall in town

Eric Paschall was an integral part of Villanova’s unprecedented success over the last four years. After transferring from Fordham, he redshirted during the Wildcats’ 2016 national championship season. His role gradually expanded within the Villanova program over the next three years. That culminated this past season with a First Team All-Big East selection.

Paschall averaged 16.5 points and 6.1 rebounds as a senior, establishing himself as a fringe first-round NBA Draft prospect. He’s a winning player — he enters the NBA with a pair of national championship rings and a 94-18 record in his three seasons on the court at Villanova.

He was overshadowed at times during his college career by the likes of Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, Mikal Bridges and Donte DiVincenzo. But Paschall has proven he is capable of shining when the lights are brightest. His 24 points on 10 of 11 shooting against Kansas in the 2018 Final Four is one of the greatest single game performances in Villanova history. 

  • Position: Forward
  • Height: 6-8
  • Weight: 255
  • School: Villanova

Strengths 

Versatility, athleticism and intangibles come to mind. Paschall will be able to play and defend multiple positions in the NBA. His perimeter shooting and passing ability should enable him to be utilized as a center in a small ball lineup, similar to how the Warriors use Draymond Green. 

Paschall’s strength and athleticism will serve him well on the defensive end of the floor. He has a sturdy frame and won’t be pushed around by too many NBA forwards. Paschall is also a tremendous finisher around the basket; he takes a backseat to no one when it comes to leaping ability. 

His mindset and work ethic may be his two greatest assets. Paschall is cut from the same cloth as former Villanova teammates Ryan Arcidiacono, Hart and Brunson, guys who were either drafted late in the first round, early in the second round or in Arcidiacono’s case, weren’t drafted at all. They all worked themselves into valuable NBA contributors. It’s a safe bet that Paschall will do the same. 

Weaknesses 

Paschall needs to prove that he can be a consistent perimeter shooter at the NBA level. He was a streaky shooter in college, prone to cold stretches. His ballhandling remains a work in progress. Paschall handled the ball quite a bit in college but still has plenty of room for improvement in that area of his game.

Paschall’s age could work against him. He’ll be 23 in November. NBA evaluators tend to prefer younger prospects who they believe have greater “upside.”  

His advanced age for a prospect shouldn’t be seen as a hinderance or an indication of limited potential. Paschall is a mature and experienced player who will be ready to contribute immediately for whichever team drafts him.

Fit

Paschall would be a great addition to the 76ers’ roster. He was impressive during a workout for the team earlier this month. Paschall would be a solid complementary piece and would have no trouble accepting and playing a supporting role.

Whether the Sixers consider Paschall a possibility with the 24th pick remains to be seen. But he would be a terrific option if he’s still available in the second round. 

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UCLA reportedly offered Jay Wright ridiculous amount he turned down

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UCLA reportedly offered Jay Wright ridiculous amount he turned down

Because of his success at Villanova, Jay Wright is always a hot name when a high-profile coaching job becomes available. But Wright really does seem happy at Villanova. 

It looks like Wright subscribes to the idea that money can’t buy happiness. 

The Los Angeles Times published a story today about UCLA’s long and winding search for a new head coach. Before they eventually landed on Mick Cronin, they went after some big names in the coaching world, including John Calipari and Wright. 

While Calipari showed some real interest in the gig, it doesn’t seem like Wright gave it a second thought, not even after UCLA offered to double his salary, according to the LA Times

Read by the LA Times, here’s part of what UCLA’s senior associate AD Josh Rebholz said in a text message to donors after the school failed to hire Calipari: 

We would have loved for Jay Wright to walk out on the floor, but even when we offered to double his salary, he still wasn’t coming. Nothing we can do about that. But I am proud of our effort. We didn’t assume anything, took our shots and I believe will end up with a solid coach who will embrace UCLA and build a program we all can be proud of and root for.

If that’s true, that UCLA offered to double his salary, Wright turned down a ton of money. According to USA Today, Wright makes $3,878,768 per season, so doubling that would give him an annual salary of over $7.75 million. That would be the second-highest salary in college basketball behind Calipari and ahead of Mike Krzyzewski. 

It seems like Wright really does love it here. 

Villanova's X-factors, chances at history in 2019 NCAA Tournament

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Villanova's X-factors, chances at history in 2019 NCAA Tournament

The NCAA Tournament tips off Tuesday night with the start of the First Four in Dayton. There are a couple prominent Big 5 storylines as college basketball takes center stage for the next three weeks. Namely, Villanova is trying to do something that hasn't been done in 44 years: win three national championships in the span of four years.

Then there's Temple's Fran Dunphy coaching in his 17th and final NCAA Tournament before stepping down at the end of the season.

Here's a breakdown of what lies ahead for the local teams.

Can Villanova make history?

The Wildcats are back in the NCAA Tournament for the 14th time in the last 15 years under Jay Wright. They arrive with plenty of momentum after winning their third straight Big East Tournament last week at Madison Square Garden. Villanova is riding a ridiculous wave of postseason success — since the 2016 season, the Wildcats have a 26-2 record in Big East and NCAA Tournament competition.

Now they set out to win a third national championship in the last four years. That hasn't been done since the UCLA dynasty in the mid-1970s.

Villanova is flying under the radar compared to previous years in terms of contending for a national title. The Wildcats are the 6-seed in the South Region and will play St. Mary's on Thursday night in Hartford, CT. St. Mary's comes into play with a 22-11 record after a shocking win over then-No. 1 Gonzaga in the WCC championship game last week.

Villanova is battle-tested and has one of the premiere coaches in the country. The Wildcats are led by two terrific seniors in Phil Booth and Eric Paschall, two guys with tons of NCAA Tournament experience. Those are the positives.

The biggest negative? Villanova's lack of depth. Wright's rotation essentially shrunk to six players during the Big East Tournament.

Sophomore Jermaine Samuels and freshman Saddiq Bey are the X-factors. Both Samuels and Bey have had their moments this season and were critical to Villanova's success last week. If Samuels and Bey can step up to complement Booth and Paschall, the Wildcats will be a tough out in the NCAA Tournament.

Fran Dunphy's last stand

Dunphy has pretty much done it all during a remarkable career. A standout player at La Salle, he received a master's degree from Villanova and has served as the head coach at both Penn and Temple. His "Mr. Big 5" nickname is well deserved.

He had tremendous success during his 17 seasons at Penn, winning nine Ivy League titles and going to nine NCAA Tournaments. Dunphy carried that success over to Temple, winning three straight Atlantic 10 Tournaments from 2008 to 2010. He has led the Owls to eight NCAA Tournaments during his 13 seasons as head coach.

The one thing missing from Dunphy's resume is success on the sport's biggest stage. He has a 3-16 career record in the NCAA Tournament. Dunphy's Owls will try to improve that record on Tuesday night against a Belmont team that won 26 games this season.

Dunphy is a great coach, terrific man and has been a wonderful ambassador for college basketball. It would be a great story if Temple sends him out with a nice run in this NCAA Tournament.