If there has been one piece missing from recent Villanova basketball teams it has been the presence of a dominant big man down low. Villanova head coach Jay Wright has struggled to land a highly recruited center during his 13 years as head coach of the program. This is not because of a lack of effort from Wright, I am sure sure he would love to have talented big men on his roster every year. It has more to do with the style of offense Villanova runs, as it does not utilize the center position as many other teams do. Some schools are known for being able to develop big men more than others, and Villanvova unfortunately is not one of them. It is no surprise that most of Villanova’s all-time greats are guards.
Coach Wright’s drought of not landing a talented center ended in 2012 when Daniel Ochefu committed to play for the Wildcats. The 6-foot-11, 245-pound Ochefu provides the Wildcats not only with size, he gives them a scoring threat inside the paint something Villanova has been lacking for some time now.
In his freshman season Ochefu played in all 34 games while only making 11 starts. He averaged 3.6 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game. Ochefu’s sophomore season was a positive one that saw his minutes increase substantially, as he started in all but two games. He was more effective on the defensive and offensive sides of the ball with an increase in rebounds, blocks, and points per game. Ochefu was awarded the BIG EAST most improved player award for the overall improvements he made to his game from his freshman to his sophomore season. As Ochefu’s game continues to develop he will continue to improve as a player. I could easily see him having a breakout junior season after the kind of year he had last year.
After Ochefu is where it gets interesting for the Wildcats due to their lack of depth in the front court. With no new big men on the team this year it looks like Darryl Reynolds has the inside track on being the backup center to Ochefu. Alhough he did not see much playing time last year, he seems to be the Wildcats’ best option as a backup just based off of size. Reynolds is the second tallest player on the roster behind Ochefu listed at 6-foot-8, 225 pounds. Reynolds would be considered an undersized center by many but will be forced to guard taller players because of Villanova’s lack of size.
Another possible backup at center is JayVaughn Pinkston. Pinkston will more than likely be the starting power forward when the season starts but he could also see some time at center to give Ochefu a rest, or if coach Wright wants to go with a smaller, more athletic lineup. Like previous seasons coach Wright will have to get creative when he puts together his lineup because of his team’s lack of size.
A player who could potentially see time at center but would need some time to develop is sophomore Kris Jenkins. Like Reynolds and Pinkston, Jenkins is better suited to play power forward because of his size but may have to step in and play center if Ochefu is injured or is in foul trouble. If there is one player Villanova can not afford to lose to injury next year it would be Ochefu.