The Villanova Wildcats were ranked eighth in the Big East preseason coaches' poll, one season after a disappointing finish concluded in a first-round NCAA Tournament exit.
The Wildcats lost three of their four leading scorers from last season, but will be led by junior Maalik Wayns (13.8 points, 4.5 assists per game last year) and his talented junior class. Wayns was named to the Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 List two weeks ago, and was voted by Big East coaches to the conference's preseason second team.
After losing Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes and Antonio Fisher to graduation, juniors Dominic Cheeks and Mouphtaou Yarou are expected to take on a bigger role.
Villanova will also lean on five newcomers, who coach Jay Wright believes have benefited from a summer exhibition tour in Paris and Amsterdam.
"The trip we took really helped us," stated Wright. "It enabled us to put last season behind us and gave this group some shared experiences to build on."
One freshman who didn't get to experience the summer exhibition tour was Ty Johnson, a highly-touted guard from Montrose Christian School. Johnson had a stress fracture in his left foot that required surgery this summer. He did travel with his teammates to Europe, but was unable to participate in any practices or exhibitions with the team.
Now, Johnson continues to rehab his foot. He's not entirely healthy, but he can feel the foot regaining strength.
"I'm getting used to being back on two feet," he says. "My foot is still weak now but this is a process of building up because I hadn't done anything on it for three months.
"If just feels great to do a crossover move again, pass to a teammate, or really anything. For someone who loves basketball as much as I do, it just feels great to be able to do those things again."
UConn and Syracuse tied for first in the preseason poll, followed by Louisville, Pittsburgh, Cincinatti, Marquette, West Virginia, Villanova, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Rutgers, St. John's, Seton Hall, South Florida, Providence and DePaul.
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