The forward position was one of the Villanova basketball team’s strengths this past season. Starting forwards James Bell and JayVaughn Pinkston had sensational years on the offensive side of the ball. Bell led the Wildcats in scoring, averaging 14.5 pints per game, while Pinkston was the teams second leading scorer averaging 14.1 points per game respectively.
Bell was not only a great offensive player, he made his presence known on the defensive side of the ball as well. He led the team in steals, and was tied for first in rebounds, with Pinkston averaging six rebounds a game. Whenever a team loses a player of Bell’s caliber it is difficult to replace their production in the starting lineup.
Although Bell will be tough to replace, Villanova does have some depth at the forward position.
Pinkston was also a great defender, because of his great athleticism, size, and quickness for a big man. He can cause opposing offenses nightmares with his ability to block shots, and rebound the basketball. Like last season, Pinkston will be a key piece of Villanova’s team even more so next year with the departure of Bell. Coach Jay Wright will look to Pinkston to provide leadership to the underclassman. Look for Pinkston to have a monster senior season.
Villanova has been notorious for starting a three guard lineup, over the years, dating back to 2005 when Jay Wright first implemented the three guard lineup, which featured Mike Nardi, Allan Ray, Randy Foye, and Kyle Lowry who came off the bench. The three guard lineup has been successful for the Wildcats over the years and is something I think they could return to in this upcoming season given their lack of size.
If the season were to open today, the starting five would feature four returning starters. This would include Ryan Arcidiacono at point guard and Darrun Hilliard who would move from shooting guard to small forward to replace Bell. JayVaughn Pinkston at power forward, and center Daniel Ochefu are the other returning starters. The lone newcomer to the starting lineup would be Dylan Ennis, who would be the starting point guard. Ennis came off the bench last year as a reserve and showed Villanova fans his potential with his explosive offensive game.
A few players who saw limited action last year as freshman will be asked to act in a more active role next year. As a result, they will see more playing time. Kris Jenkins and Daryl Reynolds in particular will likely be the main backups to Hilliard and Pinkston at the forward positions.
I liked what I saw from both Jenkins and Reynolds in the limited minutes they played last year. Both players appear to have tremendous potential. Reynolds is suited best to play built power forward with his 6-foot-8 230-pound frame, and because of this he will likely back up Pinkston at power forward. Reynolds runs the floor well for a big man. He has the ability to block shots, rebound, and defend. His offensive game continues to develop and will improve with more experience. Reynolds should be a key part of the bench this upcoming year.
Like Reynolds, Jenkins is also a big body at 6-foot-6 255 pounds. Jenkins impressed many last year with his 3 point shot shooting nearly 40 percent from the outside, which is outstanding for any player especially one of his size. He is a versatile offensive player as he can play the interior or on the perimeter. One thing Jenkins needs to improve on is his defense. Jenkins repeatedly had a tough time covering quicker players on defense. If he dedicates himself this offseason to getting in shape and losing weight it could help his defensive game significantly.
One forward who might need some time to develop before seeing game action is incoming freshman Mikal Bridges. Bridges, a four star recruit, was highly recruited out of high school. He could be the wildcard in the Villanova lineup later in the season depending on how he develops and adjusts to the college game. Bridges is definitely a player Villanova fans should pay close attention to as the season progresses.