Archbishop Wood basketball star Collin Gillespie signs with Villanova

Archbishop Wood basketball star Collin Gillespie signs with Villanova

Archbishop Wood's Collin Gillespie, the Philadelphia Catholic League's MVP, has signed a national letter of intent to attend Villanova and play for Jay Wright.

Gillespie, during his senior year, averaged 24.1 points per game. The 6-foot-2 guard lead Archbishop Wood to their first Catholic League title in school history and followed that up with a PIAA State Championship game victory -- also a first for the school. Along with the league MVP, Gillespie was named Player of the Year by the Philadelphia Daily News.

"We are excited to have Collin and his family join the Nova Nation," Villanova coach Jay Wright said in a statement. "Collin comes from a great program at Archbishop Wood and has been well prepared by John Mosco. His guard skills, basketball IQ and winning instincts will be a welcome addition to our program."

Gillespie will join previously announced signees Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (Neumann-Goretti High School in Philadelphia) and Jermaine Samuels (Rivers School, Weston, Mass.) in Villanova's class of 2021.

Villanova the 2018 NCAA champions? The odds are favorable

Villanova the 2018 NCAA champions? The odds are favorable

One year ago, on Tuesday, Villanova's Kris Jenkins hit "the shot" to defeat North Carolina 77-74 in the 2016 national championship game. 

This year, Villanova suffered a second-round loss to an under-seeded Wisconsin team. But 'Nova has a good chance to win it all in 2018. 

The Wildcats have 14/1 odds of winning the 2018 NCAA national championship, according to Bovada.

Kentucky tops the list with odds at 9/1. Newly-crowned champions UNC have 12/1 odds, while Duke sits at 14/1, along with Villanova, Gonzaga, Kansas and Louisville.

Wisconsin, which knocked off ‘Nova this year, has 66/1 odds. South Carolina, this year’s Cinderella story, has 100/1 odds.

Rounding out the list are Temple and St. Joe’s, each given 1,000/1 odds.

Why the odds make sense
The Wildcats' roster next season will be led by four juniors: Phil Booth, Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges and Eric Paschall. Booth, who was injured during the 2016 championship game, should be fully recovered from an arthroscopic procedure performed on his knee last May. Booth technically should be going into his senior year, but an impending medical red shirt would give the point guard two more years of eligibility.

Brunson may go through the NBA draft process like Jenkins and Josh Hart did last season, but it's certainly possible he returns to school. The NBA allows college underclassmen to work out for teams and go to the draft combine, but can return to school if they do not hire an agent. 

Brunson, in 36 games last season, averaged 14.7 points and 2.6 rebounds. Bridges averaged 9.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in 33 games. Both players shot 54 percent from the field.  

The final junior, Eric Paschall, averaged 7.2 points per game and shot 51 percent from the field.  

The Wildcats will also return rebound-machine Donte Divincenzo. The red-shirt freshman averaged 8.8 points and 3.8 rebounds off the bench in the regular season. The reserve played his best basketball during the NCAA Tournament, when he averaged 18 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. 

In addition to those players, the Wildcats will also add five-star recruit Omari Spellman, who was ruled academically ineligible this past season. The forward should provide an inside presence for Villanova next season. 

Randy Foye reflects on college days, 'grandfather' role to Villanova players

Randy Foye reflects on college days, 'grandfather' role to Villanova players

In the blink of the eye, Randy Foye has been in the NBA for over a decade. College still seems like yesterday for the former Villanova standout, especially when he returns to Philadelphia.

"It's a dream come true," Foye, now 33, said. "It's my 11th year and it seems like it went by so fast. ... I still feel as though I'm a kid. That's how I know I really enjoy playing the game a lot."

Foye, the starting point guard for the Brooklyn Nets, reflected as he sat in the visiting locker room of the Wells Fargo Center to play the Sixers. The arena held an important meaning to him as he chased his pro dreams in college.

"This is a special place," Foye said. "Even though we play on the Main Line, this is where it all started, where you got that atmosphere of your lifetime of being an NBA player and you got a chance to play in the building Allen Iverson was putting up big numbers in every night."

Foye was drafted seventh overall in 2006. The Celtics traded him to the Trail Blazers on draft night, and he has suited up for seven teams over his career.

Foye reflects on his collegiate success with pride. The team's accomplishments supersede his awards, which included Big East Player of the Year, Wooden Award Finalist, Sporting News First Team All-American and Big 5 Outstanding Player of the Year.

"The tenacity, resiliency that no matter size or height, guard someone that's seven inches taller than you, we just fought every single day," Foye said. "That's what stands out to me. Not all the accolades I received or Allan Ray or those guys, but just the heart that we had."

Foye respected that same fight from this year's Villanova squad, who were eliminated in the second round by Wisconsin. The Wildcats earned the top overall seed in the tournament coming off a title season.

"They had a great year," Foye said. "No matter what happens in the NCAA Tournament, obviously we want them go win it every year, but that's impossible."

As new Villanova players enter the NBA, Foye tries to be a veteran mentor the way Kerry Kittles was for him. Foye considers himself to have a "grandfather" role to alumni and wants to keep a connection with all of those from the school.

"It's unique," Foye said, "because I just look at it like Coach (Jay Wright) always says to me: 'Tradition never dies.'"