Villanova was picked to finish second behind Seton Hall in the Big East's preseason poll released Thursday, but its hopes to outperform that projection took a hit hours later when coach Jay Wright revealed the recovery of freshman Bryan Antoine's shoulder injury is still in progress. Antoine underwent surgery on the shoulder at the end of May and has yet to be fully cleared to return to practice.
"He hasn't touched a basketball since his last high school game," Wright said at Big East Media Day via ESPN. "He still hasn't practiced. It's going to be tough for him to make an impact early."
Antoine hasn't hit a setback in his recovery -- he was initially expected to take roughly six months to recover -- but the way Villanova seems to view his return has changed. Wright mentioned that a redshirt season for Antoine is now a possibility because of his ongoing rehab. As of now, he's tracking to return to practice at some point in November, but returning to practice and getting prepared to withstand the physicality of games in the Big East are two different things.
Any way you look at it, Antoine's injury is a hit for Villanova and for his own draft stock. The five-star Class of 2019 recruit was a McDonald's All-American expected to be a major contributor for the Wildcats this season at shooting guard, and had cracked the top 20 of our preseason NBA Draft prospect rankings for 2020. With his status in limbo, Villanova will likely rely even more heavily on Jermaine Samuels and Saddiq Bey, both of whom were vital role players last season.