It’s odd that many great former Wildcats’ skills didn’t translate to the NBA or they were never given a chance with Villanova basketball’s seemingly annual success. Recent names include Kris Jenkins, Maalik Wayns, Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes; all above average players for Nova who didn’t last long or never made it to the NBA. Going further back, players such as Scottie Reynolds and Allan Ray never made it in the Association. Randy Foye, Ed Pinckney, Alvin Williams, Tim Thomas and Doug West had solid NBA careers but this off-the-bench role seemed to become the epitome of Villanova players in the NBA. Only two former Villanova players (and an additional on this list) come to mind when thinking of true starters in the NBA: Kerry Kittles and Paul Arizin, who was a bona fide star.
That trend is changing, if it hasn’t already.
One Villanova alum is an NBA star and has been for years, another won Summer League MVP after a solid rookie season and four others were drafted in the first 33 selections of the NBA Draft which is the most players drafted in a single draft in program history.
With two National Championships in three years, Villanova not only added to its prestige and allure but was able to showcase the talent of its players to the NBA.
Let’s take a look at the former Wildcats currently in the NBA.
Kyle Lowry, G, Toronto Raptors
Of the four (Mike Nardi, Ray, Foye, Lowry) starting guards on the 2005-06 Villanova team, Lowry has turned out to be the most successful in the NBA. He is entering his 13th year and, while it took him a little while to get going, he has been one of the best players in the league once he arrived in Toronto averaging 17.8 points, 6.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds in six seasons with the team. Lowry is the second-best NBA player to come out of Villanova behind Arizin.
Josh Hart, G, Los Angeles Lakers
After being selected with the 30th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Hart had a solid rookie season playing in 63 games, starting 23 and averaging 7.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists. He was recently named the Las Vegas Summer League MVP while averaging 24.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals and leading the Lakers to the championship game.
Darrun Hilliard, G, Free Agent
A former 38th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Hilliard is currently a free agent. He’s had stints on two-way contracts with the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs averaging 3.2 points in 91 games, three of which he started. He’s had success in the G-League where he’s averaged 21.3 points, 3.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds in 43 games the past three seasons.
Ryan Arcidiacono, G, Chicago Bulls
The undrafted Arcidiacono is on a two-way contract with Chicago. He averaged 13.9 points, 8.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals while starting 37 games with Chicago’s G-League affiliate Windy City Bulls last season. He was called up to the Association for 24 games and averaged 2.0 points, 1.5 assists and 1.0 rebound in 12.7 minutes per game off the bench. In his second Summer League stint that concluded this month; he averaged 7.2 points, 4.0 assists and 4.2 rebounds.
Dante Cunningham, F, San Antonio Spurs
After playing for six teams in nine seasons, Cunningham will be joining his seventh after signing a one-year deal with the Spurs. He’s been a solid role player off the bench his entire career playing in 651 games. His best season came in 2012-13 with the Minnesota Timberwolves as he averaged 8.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 25.1 minutes in 80 games (nine starts).
Mikal Bridges, F, Phoenix Suns
The No. 10 pick averaged 6.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 0.8 blocks in 20 minutes per game during Summer League. He could see significant playing time this season as a 3-and-D player who can play as a two-guard and either forward position.
Donte DiVincenzo, G, Milwaukee Bucks
The No. 17 pick struggled in Summer League playing in two games and averaging 0.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals in 13.5 minutes. He could get some minutes off the bench for the Bucks this season. He’ll definitely have more than $3 in his bank account soon: he signed his rookie contract which will make him around $2 million this year.
Omari Spellman, F, Atlanta Hawks
The No. 30 pick played in five games in the Summer League averaging 10.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 block and 1.40 steals in 27.4 minutes. If he can improve his low shooting percentages he could carve a role out for himself off the Atlanta bench.
Jalen Brunson, G, Dallas Mavericks
The No. 33 pick played 20.2 minutes per game with averages of 6.8 points, 4.4 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals in five games in the Summer League. He struggled shooting but the Mavericks must have seen enough as they signed him to a four-year deal with the money being similar to that of a late first-round pick.