Under Jay Wright the Villanova Wildcats have become one of the premier basketball programs in the country. Fresh off their fourth trip to the Final Four under Wright this past season, the Wildcats were expected to be among the country’s best once again next season.
But that will have to be done without the 60-year-old George Clooney look-a-like who’s set to retire. Wright was one of the last pieces of fabric that held together the connection between the old Big East (pre-2010) and the new Big East.
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) April 1, 2022
According to various reports, longtime assistant and current Fordham head coach Kyle Neptune will succeed Wright.
A statement released by Shams Charania via The Athletic and Stadium read as follows:
“Jay Wright is likely retiring as head coach of Villanova soon. That means a succession plan is in order for the university.”
Jeff Goodman took the reports a little further when he tweeted that Wright has called a meeting to inform his players of the decision.
Villanova coach Jay Wright has called a team meeting to inform the players that he will be retiring, sources told @Stadium.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) April 20, 2022
New Coaching Era
Wright’s sudden retirement comes on the heels of Coach K retiring earlier this month after the Blue Devils Final Four loss to archrival North Carolina. And Roy Williams turning the reigns over to Hubert Davis following the 2020-21 season. That means three iconic blue blood/new blood programs are ushering in new leadership in the first seat on the sidelines.
Reportedly Wright “had been thinking about retirement for several weeks,” to spend more time with his family.
Wright Following Williams And UNC Model: Promoting Former Black Assistant
With iconic programs such as UNC, Duke and now Nova losing coaches who have been a a part of the program for decades, having a succession plan in place is vital. With AAU season in full-swing and many top 2023 and 2024 recruits undecided, it’s vital that current and potential recruits can trust the moves being made.
Also, with the transfer portal as hot as fish grease, trying to keep current players is also imperative. Coach K opted to have Jon Scheyer succeed him, although the school wanted former assistant Tommy Amaker, who is African-American. UNC went along with Roy Williams promoting Davis. Now Wright is doing the same in bringing back longtime assistant Kyle Neptune. It’s another win for Black coaches to have those two take over legendary hoops programs.
In order for a Black coach to have a shot at becoming the fifth of his kind to win an NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship, he has to be coaching a major program with the ability to attract five-star recruits.
Kyle Neptune Has Resume, Program Connection
The 37-year-old Brooklyn native served two stints under Wright, from 2008-2010, as video coordinator, then from 2013 to 2021 as lead assistant.
Sources: Fordham's Kyle Neptune is expected to be Jay Wright's successor at Villanova. https://t.co/2v9CEGbkHi
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 20, 2022
Jay Wright Has Many Accolades: Two National Championships to Boot
Wright began his head coaching career at Hofstra where he went (122-85). He arrived at Villanova in 2001, building a culture of winning. He preaches fundamentals and execution, and while he landed some of the best recruits, he also developed many two and three-star talents as well. When it comes to player development, Wright is arguably the best in the game.
His 520-197 overall record includes two national championships (2016 and 2018), four Final Fours (2009, 2016, 2018 and 2022), eight Big East regular season titles, five Big East tourney titles, six Big East Coach of the Year awards, 2010 AP Coach of the Decade, and two Naismith College Coach of the Year awards.
A 2021 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, Wright has put Nova on par with longtime “blue bloods,” UNC, Duke, Kansas, UCLA and Indiana. Often referred to as a new blood,” for their consistency, toughness and grit over Wright’s tenure, the Wildcats will now usher in the Kyle Neptune era. Don’t expect the locomotive to slowdown one bit, it’s Villanova, and thanks to Wright, they have a winning culture already in place.