Long Road Back for Villanova’s Ryan Arch; Jenkins, Hart Sign With Wildcats

NEW YORK — Villanova coach Jay Wright was so uncertain of Ryan Arcidiacono’s health entering this season, that he brought in two guard transfers just in case  the freshman couldn’t go.

Arcidiacono, a 6-foot-3 point guard from Langhorne, Pa., missed his entire senior season at Neshaminy High School because of back surgery and it was unclear how his freshman year of college would play out.

“I don’t think it’s a secret, we went out and got two transfers,” Wright said Thursday after his Wildcats held off Purdue, 89-81 in OT, in the semifinals of the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden thanks, in part, to Arcidiacono’s 18 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds and 7 turnovers and two OT 3-pointers from James Bell.

“We never take transfers because I wasn’t even sure he was going to be able to play. So we were just protecting ourselves.”

As a senior in high school, Arcidiacono was suffering from back pain due to overuse combined with a weak core and hamstrings.

His doctor said he was “an accident waiting to happen.”

At first he got “a couple [cortisone] shots” for his back but they didn’t alleviate the pain.

“So we decided — my family and I and the coaching staff at ‘Nova — in November to have back surgery,” he said.

After the December surgery, he was laid up in his house for two weeks with nothing to do but watch hoops on TV.

“Basketball,” he said. “I just watched basketball, 24/7.”

After averaging 20.4 points and 5 assists as a junior, missing out on his senior year was understandably frustrating.

“Yeah, it was definitely frustrating,” said Arcidiacono.

Still, there was a bright side.

He spent a lot of time hanging out at Villanova and learning the way things are done.

“I just had a good attitude,” Arcidiacono said. “I was up at ‘Nova a lot, just to see how they played and I just got accustomed to the attitude and how everything had to be all about the team. I was just coming in ready to work. I had no spot or anything like that.”

“There’s a positive to this because he was around us all the time because he couldn’t play,” Wright said. “He came to all our games, he’d come to practices. We were talking all the time.

“He watched everything we did. At halftime, he’d be in the locker room with us, him and I would be talking about what happened. After the game, we’d be talking about what happened so he really got to learn before do.”

Still, Arcidiacono’s road back wasn’t smooth.

In June, he was cut from the USA U18 team in Colorado Springs, Colo., along with some other big-name prospects like  Andrew and Aaron Harrison (Kentucky), Troy Williams (Indiana) and Kris Dunn (Providence).

“They said he’s a step behind, that was early in the summer,” Wright said.

But he kept working his way back into form and now, a year after surgery, the man they call “Ryan Arch” has given the Wildcats (3-0) a big boost.

Entering Friday’s final against Alabama, Arcidiacono is averaging 18 points, 5.3 assists and 3 rebounds.

He is the starting point guard and the Wildcats are so set at the guard spot now, that sophomore Ty Johnson of Plainfield, N.J., opted to transfer.

Wright, who’s coached many great guards in the past, says Arcidiacono reminds him of another former Villanova point guard, Mike Nardi.

“He does a lot,” Wright said. “He’s got the same kind of work ethic, the same kind of respect for all his teammates. And Mike has been working out with us because he hurt his foot, so he’s been with us. He’s going back to Italy soon but he’s been with us, he’s been kind of mentoring him. And he’s had a big impact on Ryan.”

A year after surgery that knocked him out for a year, Arcidiacono says he’s just happy to be back playing basketball.

“I’m definitely grateful,” he said. “I missed basketball my senior year of high school. I wish I could’ve played.

“Now I’m back. I haven’t thought about surgery. I never think about it. So I just feel like I’m back to where I was junior of high school.”

JENKINS, HART SIGN WITH WILDCATS

Guard Josh Hart of Sidwell Friends School and forward Kris Jenkins of Gonzaga High School signed Letters of Intent with Villanova.

The 6-5 Hart averaged 20.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game as a junior in 2011-12. The versatile swingman played his AAU basketball for Team Takeover.

“Josh Hart is a complete player who can play any position,” Jay Wright said. “He and his family will be great Villanovans for life. Josh is an outstanding player and student coming from Sidwell Friends and having been coached by Eric Singletary.”

The 6-6- Jenkins is ranked No. 73 in the ESPN top 100 listing of the class of 2013. As a junior, he averaged 20.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per outing. The native of Washington, D.C. played his AAU basketball for D.C. Assault.

“We’re thrilled to have Kris Jenkins join the Villanova family,” said Wright. “He brings incredible skill, toughness and great basketball IQ. He comes from a tremendous program with a great coach in Steve Turner. He will be a favorite of the Nova Nation.”

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23 comments
charlie duck sauce
charlie duck sauce

Agreed. This organization is indeed on course to a bright future. Seeing the fanbase's exuberance and interactions in regards to the cap space, draft picks and current young prospects makes one cringe at the possibilities. Very exciting times for sure.

frustjetfn
frustjetfn

Goodbye. Your contract year was great.

lindro88
lindro88

His kind words probably crack the top ten of accomplishments during Tone's time as a Jet.  

J. Smooth
J. Smooth

The idea of Revis and Ed Reed in the same secondary puts me inappropriately close to full chub...

oddmanrush
oddmanrush

It's been a weird four years for him. I loved the move at first, thinking we were finally getting a good WR. Then, the whole character concern in the huddle at the end of the season in 2011 made me completely dislike him. Then, he became just completely injury prone, but during that time, kind of seemed very appreciative for his spot on the roster and said and did all the right things despite not being on the field too much. He gave a paycut to stay with the team last year and offered to do it again this year. It really feels like he completely grew up over the four years he was here.


Regardless, we have to move on by getting better and more consistent at the position. 

juunit
juunit

Peace out Slantonio.

harold
harold

Tone good player when healthy.  Unfortunately, just wasn't healthy much last two seasons.

ww85
ww85

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

idothis2
idothis2

@harold he was a damn good player when healthy. that toe tapping pass he caught from Sanchez in the endzone in the playoff game against the Pats was a thing of beauty

Brendan
Brendan

@ww85  Notice that he thanked even the fans like you, WW. 

Brendan
Brendan

@idothis2  To this day one of the best catches I've ever seen. 

ww85
ww85

@Brendan He should be thanking us. He scammed us all & we made him wealthy.  I have respect for virtually every Jet that has played for us over the years. I defended Revis through his Mevis stuff, defended Braylon when he was dui(sort of). But Tone really gets my flames. He didn't perform for us, he was unable to adapt to a poor QB & whined about it the whole time & still acted like he was Megatron. Never disliked a Jet like this punk.  We should have kept Bray & Cotch & let this punk go after his "contract" year. 

Brendan
Brendan

@Bent Oh, yeah. I need to be clearer about which banning I'm talking about. That wasn't even the only bar ban I got for watching the Jets on my birthday. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@Brendan @Bent  Sorry I thought you were still talking about that game.

Brendan
Brendan

@Bent Haha no, that was the 2010 Divisional Playoff game. 



#NeverForget

Brendan
Brendan

@metsjetsdu That game happened on my actual birthday. I received a lifetime ban from the bar I was in when Holmes made that catch. 

metsjetsdu
metsjetsdu

@Brendan @idothis2  I was at the Texans game when he caught that winning touchdown . It was right in my face, I'll never forget it. Most people had already left the game and it was my brother, father and I running up and down our row going crazy. There was a lot of bad that came with Santonio's good, but he sure was fun to watch sometimes. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@oddmanrush @ww85 @Brendan  To be honest, when that deal happened, pretty much everyone (here, at least) was perfectly happy with it.  

oddmanrush
oddmanrush

@ww85 @Brendan  He didn't scam us. Mike Tannenbaum scammed us for giving him a contract that  Jets fans questioned since day one.

Brendan
Brendan

@ww85 He scammed you? How much does he owe, WW? You're better than this.