VILLANOVA, Pa. -- If you're still bummed about the way Villanova's season ended, there's some hope for you.
Just think about next year.
"I’m trying to do it now so I don’t have to watch these games," Jay Wright said.
"I really am. I sit there with my pad and look at our roster and write out plays so I can’t watch the games that are going on right now.
"It’s kind of cathartic to think about next year."
Because Villanova, the winningest team in NCAA Division I over the last four years with 129 wins, should be very good again in 2018.
Yes, the Wildcats will lose Big East Player of the Year Josh Hart, 2016 championship game hero Kris Jenkins and post presence Darryl Reynolds.
But if Jalen Brunson returns to Villanova for his junior year, the Wildcats will return four of their top six scorers -- Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo and Eric Paschall. Brunson could very well be the Big East preseason Player of the Year.
They'll also potentially add as many as six new key pieces -- highly regarded post presence Omari Spellman, ruled ineligible by the NCAA before this season; sharp-shooting guard Phil Booth, who scored 20 points in the title game win over North Carolina but missed all but three games this year with knee pain; big man Tim Delaney, who missed the last two years with hip injuries and remains a question mark; plus incoming freshmen Collin Gillespie, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree and Jermaine Samuels.
Will the 2017-18 Wildcats have the potential to make a deep run? Maybe get to a Final Four?
"Absolutely," Jenkins said. "They're going to be real good. I’m excited to see how things unfold for them.
"You’ve got guys coming in, new guys stepping into different roles. They’re going to be fun to watch and they’re definitely going to do some special things and we’ll be cheering for them, for sure."
How does it all break down?
Assuming Brunson comes back, the likely starting five will be Brunson in the backcourt with Booth, with DiVincenzo, Bridges and Spellman in the frontcourt, and DiVincenzo obviously able to play the 1 or the 2 as well.
That leaves Paschall, who improved steadily as the year went on, coming off the bench in what will be the Wildcats' deepest frontcourt in years. And don't forget 6-10 Dylan Painter, who made great strides as the year went on.
Then factor in possible immediate contributions from the incoming freshmen -- Samuels, a 6-6 wing who should get immediate playing time, along with 6-8 Cosby-Roundtree and 6-2 combo guard Gillespie.
After going just seven deep this past year, Wright will have tremendous depth at his disposal next season, along with three guys who averaged at least 20 minutes per game on a national championship team.
There will likely be a redshirt or two, but even so, Wright should be able to go nine deep this coming season.
No wonder then that college basketball metrics site KenPom.com has already ranked Villanova as the No. 1 team in NCAA Division I … in 2018.
Obviously, the Wildcats will miss Hart tremendously, but DiVincenzo is clearly the heir apparent. Whether he'll be as good as Hart remains to be seen, but Wright didn't hesitate to compare him with Hart halfway through his freshman season, and DiVincenzo's late-season performance really did hint of future greatness.
Reynolds was a solid rebounder but not a scorer, and Jenkins struggled badly the second half of the season.
So maybe replacing those seniors won't be as difficult as you might assume.
As it stands now, Villanova won't have a senior on the floor next year, but leadership shouldn't be an issue.
Although Paschall, Booth and Bridges will be academic seniors, all should have two more years of eligibility. And Wright said earlier this week Brunson is actually already close to graduating, even though he'll be a junior on the court next year.
The Wildcats should be a better shooting team with Booth returning, a deeper team with all the additions, a stronger post team on both ends with Spellman patrolling the paint and a better defensive team, simply because Wright will be able to substitute more and go deeper.
See you in mid-November.
"Only thing I say to them is be coachable," Hart said. "They’re great basketball players but even better people. Their character is through the roof, and a lot of times it’s not about who’s the most talented, it’s not about who has the best physical gifts, it’s about character, it’s about heart, it’s about will, and that’s something that these guys have and that’s something that you guys are going to see next year.
"They're all going to have new opportunities, and I guarantee you’re going to see them grow up as people and as basketball players."