Executives around the NBA voted in a 25-man poll in hopes to find the few NCAA Division I coaches who are most likely to have a successful NBA stint. Villanova head coach Jay Wright ranked above them all, scoring only one point above Virginia's Tony Bennett and notching six first-place votes in the poll conducted by Jeff Goodman of Stadium.
The executives also offered some anonymous quotes to paint the picture behind their reasoning. Their main point was that Wright had developed NBA-ready talent consistently, and it's showing in recent years.
“I’m not sure he leaves for anything except for the Sixers job, but obviously he’s proven he can really coach and develop young guys,” said the executive. “Look at what he has done over the years with guys like Josh Hart, Ryan Arcidiacono, Jalen Brunson. He gets guys ready and that’s important.”
Hart, Arcidiacono, and Brunson have all found consistent roles on their respective teams and aren't just part of the group of young players that are shelved for the season.
A more recent example of a Villanova player finding success in the league is Eric Paschall, the 41st overall selection that has been the gem of the Golden State Warriors' 2019 NBA Draft, thriving alongside fellow Wildcat Omari Spellman, who lost 50 pounds from last season and is now in line for big minutes, potentially even a starting spot in his second year in the league.
Wright has consistently equipped his players with the tools to do well at the next level during his time at Villanova. His charisma and relatability are some of the reasons USA Basketball named him as part of Gregg Popovich's coaching staff.
Should he ever decide to try his hands in the pros, there will be plenty of NBA executives willing to give him a chance.