Jay Wright, the men’s basketball coach at Villanova, a small catholic college in Pennsylvania, was extremely concerned about the ability to recruit new players at the start of the global pandemic.
Because of travel restrictions, quarantine guidelines, and coronavirus safety concerns, Wright was unsure how he and his staff would appropriately evaluate the athletes. Potential recruits were not able to visit college campuses and college coaches could not watch players in person.
In April, Wright claimed that although their inability to recruit appropriately could hinder their program, there were more important things to focus on.
After several months, many of Wright’s fears have subsided as the health crisis has actually opened the door to college recruitment.
Wright Does Not Have to Worry
Wright and his staff at Villanova currently have four rising seniors who have already committed to the class of 2021, making them the Number 1 recruiting class so far. Point guard Angelo Brizzi of Virginia, shooting guard Jordan Longino of Pennsylvania, small forward Trey Patterson of New Jersey, and Nnanna Njoku of Delaware are all among the potential starting team.
With Wright as head coach, Villanova’s men’s basketball team has continued to dominate the NCAA winning two of the last four championships. With their winning record and reputation, these players are ready to be a part of a growing legacy.
Patterson, of Rutgers Preparatory School, said that since they do not have A.A.U. this year and have not been able to travel or focus on games, he and his family have had more time to discuss schools and programs. He believes this has expedited the process of choosing where to commit to.
A New Normal Opens New Doors
During a usual summer, Patterson and other top recruit prospects would be playing at events across the nation in attempts to impress coaches and potentially receive a scholarship offer.
Tournaments have been largely canceled due to COVID-19. The NCAA also imposed a dead period for recruiting through at least August. Because of this, Patterson has only verbally committed but plans to sign his letter of intent in the fall.
As of Wednesday, it is clear that other universities are also benefiting from unfortunate circumstances. Baylor, Butler, Ohio State, Southern California, Louisville, Michigan, and Florida State each had three athletes commit to their 2021 class.
Tom Konchalski, a recruiting expert, claimed the pandemic has truly been a large push for the recruiting process. He said since recruits are unsure whether they will be able to make a paid visit to said university, virtual visits have made it possible to establish some level of personability between player and school.
In May, Jeff Ngandu committed to Seton Hall for the 2020-2021 season without having ever visited the school. Similarly to Ngandu, Saquan Singleton committed to New Mexico in April for the 2020 season.
Both players developed connections with the schools and coaches through phone call and video conferencing, which Singleton attributed to his connection and choice of school.
No Letter of Intent, No Commitment
With many of these commitments being verbal and not set in stone, it is unknown how recruits’ choices will change. Several college coaches believe this could be a downfall to early commitments as players could change their minds before signing.
Universities are bracing for a high number of transfers considering the circumstances.
Villanova commits, Patterson is hopeful that early commitment will help the team in the long run. He believes it will give them a substantial amount of time to familiarize themselves with each other and their new team.