Villanova basketball recruiting: Transfer Joe Cremo could be a key to repeating as NCAA champions

Villanova's not slowing down. 

On Tuesday morning, the reigning national champions added a graduate transfer from Albany named Joe Cremo. Now, while the annual transfer flock in college basketball is populated with hundreds players harmlessly moving from one school to another -- most of them not making any big-picture difference in the process -- Cremo sets up to be an exception. He's undeniably an impactful addition for Jay Wright's program. 

He's the kind of veteran who might figure to be vital come next year's NCAA Tournament

Cremo was arguably the best player in the America East last season, playing for an Albany team that went 22-10. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard averaged 17.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists for the Great Danes. Most importantly, he's a 42 percent career 3-point shooter. Nova won out for Cremo's final season of eligibility over Texas, Kansas and Creighton.

Because Cremo is a graduate transfer, he'll be immediately eligible. That's a big boost for a talented team that's still waiting on championship-level decisions from two of its best players.

To recap, here's Villanova's situation at this hour:

By bringing in Cremo, Villanova effectively ensures itself of having a top 25-level team no matter what DiVincenzo and Spellman decide. Starters Phil Booth and Eric Paschall, both of whom have had huge games in the Final Four, are back. A strong sophomore class -- Collin Gillespie, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree and Jermaine Samuels -- will see their minutes increase. The incoming freshman crop is ranked 16th in the country and features three top-50 prospects: five-star point guard Jahvon Quinerly, four-star power forward Cole Swider, four-star small forward Brandon Slater. 

Cremo is a coup of an add, though. Remember how deadly Villanova was from 3 last season? The Wildcats set records for most 3s made in a season (469), in an NCAA Tournament (76) and in a Final Four game (18). The 2017-18 Wildcats are among the best teams in college hoops history

Now they'll bolster their long-range arsenal by adding Cremo, who seems like an ideal fit for Villanova's culture and system. Six VU players shot at least 100 3s last season. Cremo's going to step in and get the green light. Villanova's 3-ball killer scheme isn't going anywhere. 

Cremo is also a good stop-gap if DiVincenzo opts to stay in the draft. At this point, Villanova's roster -- again -- sets up as the strongest in the Big East. Cremo coming in secures that. If the Wildcats want to enter all-time territory -- dynasty-level stuff -- then getting Spellman and/or DiVincenzo back is probably pivotal. 

But those decisions are still weeks away; those two players will compete in the NBA combine later this month. 

At least Wright knows he's got enough offensive firepower to maintain Villanova's status as one of the best teams in college hoops. With Cremo's commitment, Villanova has entered into its next stage of growth. It's not just that the program is cultivating lottery picks, and multiple NBA players, and top-20 recruiting classes. Now it's luring in highly coveted transfers. 

It feels like Wright is mastering every area necessary in order to hold the throne. The Wildcats stay winning. It's why this program has the best claim to being the best school in college hoops over the past half-decade. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his eighth season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics,... Full Bio

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