Breakdown: Five-star Jalen Brunson commits to Villanova
Villanova landed one of the best pure point guards in the country on Wednesday, as Jalen Brunson announced his commitment.
As of last week, Jalen Brunson’s commitment wasn’t expected to end so quickly. He had just visited Illinois, and had plans to check out Villanova, Temple, Michigan State and Purdue.
After visiting Villanova, though, Brunson was ready to end his recruitment – and the Wildcats must have done a tremendous job of convincing him on his visit.
Brunson committed to Villanova on Wednesday, announcing his decision at a press conference before donning a 'Nova T-shirt and hat.
He chose the Wildcats over fellow finalist Illinois, although Brunson’s recruitment was far from that simple.
As Brunson ascended to the top of the point guard rankings, a number of schools became involved. He trimmed his list to eight in May, with Michigan State, Connecticut, Purdue, Illinois, Kansas, Villanova, Michigan and Temple remaining.
It was tough to get a read on his recruitment -- until his father, Rick Brunson, was on the verge of being hired as an assistant coach at Temple. The thought was that his son would follow, and the Owls would land a five-star prospect. Then Rick Brunson was arrested for an alleged sexual assault, and the job rumors soon disappeared. As did Temple's status as the frontrunner. Michigan State looked to make up some ground, but visits to Illinois and Villanova cemented those two as the leaders.
Both Jay Wright and John Groce made their final pitches on Tuesday, but the Wildcats won out.
Brunson is the highest-rated point guard to commit in the class of 2015.
The file on … Jalen Brunson
- Height: 6-foot-1
- Weight: 190 pounds
- Position: Point Guard
- Ranking: No. 18 in the 247Sports Composite (No. 2 PG)
- High School: Adlai E. Stevenson HS (Ill.)
- AAU: Mac Irvin Fire
- Stats: 17.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 2.7 steals on Nike EYBL circuit (15 games)
How he fits at Villanova
One of the best pure point guards in the class of 2015, Brunson can run a team like few others in high school basketball. The lefty is adept in the half-court, initiating offense for himself and others. He is also capable of knocking down shots from the perimeter so defenses can’t sag off consistently, and he has also improved his mid-range and pull-up arsenal. In transition, Brunson is outstanding -- without having next-level speed. He controls tempo, changes speed and has great vision, especially when pushing the ball. His basketball IQ and feel are terrific, as well. Brunson has gotten better throughout the course of his career, and his ability to score and create will fit in well with Jay Wright and Villanova.
Under Wright, the Wildcats have been known for their annual allotment of talented perimeter guards. The NBA-level ones have dropped off a bit lately, but Brunson is next in a long line of big-time guards. From Randy Foye and Kyle Lowry to Maalik Wayns and Corey Fisher, Wright knows how to use his guards. Projecting Villanova’s 2015-16 roster, the Wildcats will still have starter Ryan Arcidiacono in the backcourt, but Dylan Ennis and Phil Booth will be the only other returnees. It’s not hard to see Arcidiacono and Brunson in the backcourt together -- both players can score themselves and create for others.
What it means for Villanova’s class
Brunson is the third commitment for Villanova in the 2015 class, joining shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo and power forward Tim Delaney. Divincenzo is a four-star shooting guard from Delaware who committed back in January, while Delaney is a New Jersey native that pledged last summer. DiVincenzo will help shore up the backcourt with the loss of Darrun Hilliard after the upcoming season, while Delaney can provide frontcourt depth. Outside of Hilliard, the only other player Villanova is scheduled to lose is senior forward Jayvaughn Pinkston. While it’s nice the Wildcats are only likely losing two players, they happen to be the team’s two best players. Brunson will certainly have to make an immediate impact -- and he’s ready for the role.
Villanova still has two scholarships available for this class, and it’s unclear where Wright will use them. The Wildcats looked like the favorite for forward Chris Silva, but things have cooled off between the two. They are on his final list of five, but are the lone school not expected to get a visit. With Brunson in the fold, the Wildcats are likely done in the backcourt. But where will they look in the frontcourt? One interesting thing to note will be Villanova's pursuit of 2016 point guard Payton Pritchard. Wright and assistant coach Baker Dunleavy went to Oregon on Tuesday to watch him; will Brunson's commitment have an impact?
Which school loses the most?
Illinois was the second choice for Brunson, and the Fighting Illini do suffer a tough loss. However, they might not be down for too long. Jawun Evans is clearly the next option, and he might be better moving forward than Brunson. He had an outstanding summer, and made his case to be among the elite point guards in the country. Moreover, Evans is good friends with five-star power forward Elijah Thomas – another top target for the Fighting Illini. Thomas is expected to visit Champaign in a couple of weeks, while Evans just took a trip this past weekend.
Among the other high-profile targets for John Groce and Illinois is five-star power forward Carlton Bragg, who kept the Fighting Illini in his final five and will welcome them for an in-home visit later this month. Top-50 big man Doral Moore is also taking a visit later this month, while Jalen Coleman and Shake Milton could also trip to campus. Wings D.J. Williams and Aaron Jordan are already in the fold for Illinois.
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