The Villanova Wildcats won the Big East with an 18-7 record in 2020-21. This was good enough for the No. 5 seed in the South Region. Unfortunately, their postseason tournament run concluded with a 62-51 loss to top-seeded Baylor in this year’s Sweet 16 round. While that loss to the eventual champions was a bitter pill to swallow, Villanova got some good news on Monday.
Seniors Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels will return to the team for the 2021-22 campaign. Gillespie missed the final five games of the 2020-21 season due to a torn MCL injury he sustained on March. 3. Before his injury, he compiled averages of 14 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per outing. He shot 42.8 percent from the field and 37.6 percent from beyond the arc. Additionally, Gillespie was named Co Big-East Player of the year and is a finalist for the Bob Cousy award.
“It is going to be a blessing to put the Villanova uniform on for one last year and play for such an amazing university!” Gillespie tweeted on Monday. “I am very excited to get fully healthy again and continue to grow as a player, student, and person.”
Meanwhile, Samuels has started in 76 games for the Villanova Wildcats over the past three seasons. And he turned in his best season thus far in a Wildcats uniform. He averaged 12 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per contest. Samuels also shot a career-best 48.1 percent from the floor, including a respectable 37.1 percent from the 3-point line.
It is also worth noting that Samuels contributed a team-high 16 points for the Wildcats in the team’s season-ending loss against Baylor. And head coach Jay Wright couldn’t be happier with his decision to return for another season.
“We are blessed to have Jermaine’s character, leadership, and talent in our community for another season,” Wright told VUHoops.com. “He will work hard to take his game to new heights and continue to lead our team.”
The Wildcats have put together eight consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament. And they won it all in 2016 and 2018. With a pair of key contributors back in the fold, they should be considered one of the favorites to win the national championship next season.