Villanova may have just found itself a valuable big man for the future. The 6-foot-10, 230 pound, Dylan Painter committed to the Wildcats in the middle of September after many other schools sought after him.
Painter will be finishing his days with the Hershey High Trojans this season, as he is now in his senior year. Most recently, he averaged 17.8 points per game, 11.1 rebounds per game, and 3.6 blocks per game as a junior, which was enough to already garner Division 1 attention. La Salle was the first team to offer him a scholarship in June of last year.
From there, a list of over twenty schools would contact him to and bring him to their institution. When Penn State offered him in April it seemed likely that Painter would choose them, but Villanova became the last school to offer him a scholarship in August and he was sold.
But it all started in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Painter has enjoyed growing up in Chocolate Town, U.S.A. “Hershey is an amazing place. I love it. It’s such a tight community and everyone knows each other it seems like. I have so much support from friends and family.” His family is a big reason why he ended up playing basketball, but that wasn’t the sport he grew up on.
“I grew up in a football family. My dad was the head high school coach and played in college. I played football and basketball growing up and eventually stopped playing football after my sophomore year.” He played tight end and outside linebacker in football until he decided to only focus on basketball.
Painter isn’t the first successful big man coming from Hershey either. Scott Eatherton, a 2010 graduate, was an all-CAA Defensive Player of the Year at Northeastern. Matt Banas is a starting senior forward at Bucknell after being an one thousand point scorer in high school. When Painter began his run as a varsity basketball player, Chase Watkins was the big upperclassman as the starting center. Watkins, who now is an offensive lineman for Bucknell football, is credited by Painter for his growth in basketball. “Chase was really instrumental in helping me get better and pushing me.”
Along with Watkins, he says that his high school coaches are a big reason why he became the big recruit. “My high school teammates and high school coaches, Paul Blackburn and Ron Grier especially.”
Painter has played basketball for just about his entire life and it led to him playing varsity his freshman year, an unbelievable feat. But the first half in his first varsity game was a rough one. Blackburn lit a fire in him at halftime. It was a turning point for the big man. “Ever since then, it’s been all basketball all the time and I’ve been pushing to be the best I can be.”
Due to the support he has had throughout his basketball career, Painter has been able to put up great numbers in high school. He has been one of the most impressive big men in the state and he still has one more year left. He’ll definitely be someone to keep an eye on to see his progress before he begins his time at The Pavilion in Villanova.
Photo courtesy of http://tomreifsnyder.com/
“Whenever Villanova needs that extra umf: Josh Hart is the guy,” my grandfather told me as we were sitting in the media section of the Wells Fargo Center on February 7, 2015. Each year, my grandpa has watched every game since he came to the school as a freshman in 1954, so I trust his opinion, but in regards to junior Josh Hart, the play on the court speaks for itself.
Hart, the 2015 Big East 6th Man of the Year, was the spark plug that kept the Wildcats on track throughout their 33 win season last year. While some may say Ryan Arciadiacono filled that role, Hart’s outside shooting and stellar passing proved he was a major contributor to the ‘Nova offense. Last season, Josh Hart became an active element of the Villanova rotation, averaging a little over 26 minutes a game, but this year, expect number three to be an even more frequent member of the lineup.
Coming out of high school, Hart was a highly touted prospect from Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC. He developed great ball movement skills during his time in high school and could finish almost any shot. He brought these talents with him to the college level at Villanova, and they have showed up in big games. It was most notable in the 2014 Big East tournament when he dropped 18 points in the loss to Seton Hall as a freshman and in this past season’s tournament, he scored 53 points over three games and was named the tournament’s MVP.
Now as an upperclassmen, his role as a leader will be fully in the spotlight, but the starting guard position is still a question mark for him going into the season. The number two nationally ranked point guard recruit out of Adlai Stevenson High School in Chicago, Jalen Brunson, will be thrown into the fold this season following the transfer of Dylan Ennis and Darrun Hilliard’s graduation. Brunson opened eyes at the FIBA U19 World Championships this year, propelling the US national team to a gold medal victory. He has the potential to be an NBA lottery pick following some development and has been speculated as a lottery talent come June.
The perfect case study for Brunson would be shadowing Josh Hart. Give Hart starting time, and Brunson can learn how an elite point guard should look in the NCAA. Not only does this help Brunson see from first hand experience how to be a leader and a top option on the court, but it will allow Villanova to keep Brunson for one more year if he decides to leave for the NBA following a possible breakout season. Also, what Josh Hart gets out of this scenario is an opportunity to gain minutes and showcase his talent even more, so come March he isn’t the 6th Man of the Year, but the overall MVP.
Head coach Jay Wright was asked following the Big East Championship game, where Villanova took home its first title in 20 years, if the team could be the best that the school has ever had in its history. Wright responded, “It really could be.” But what I feel to be true, is that with a team like Villanova who has an extremely deep roster full of young and ready talent, this time around really could be the one where we see the ‘Cats prove they are more than a two and out tournament team. It all starts with Josh Hart’s transformation into the starting shooting guard role this year and showing really why he is “that guy”.
Photo courtesy of philly.com
Villanova announces that Tim Delaney will need hip surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. At this current time there is no expected return date for Delaney and it would be logical that Delaney would use a medical redshirt this year which would allow him to keep a year of eligibility.
The 6-foot-8 230 lbs forward arrived on Villanova’s campus this past June via Blair Academy in New Jersey. He participated in preseason workouts with his Wildcat teammates but before their first game of the season, the Nova depth chart has already taken a hit.
Photo courtesy of NJ.com
-(1) Villanova faces (5) West Virginia in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament