NCAA Basketball Villanova and North Carolina

Rashad McCants will hit the NBA after winning an NCAA title
North Carolina’s McCants enters NBA draft

Junior will skip senior season after Tar Heels’ title run

April 13, 2005

CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina – North Carolina experienced the first of what may be a series of early departures.

Swingman Rashad McCants announced on Wednesday afternoon that he will forgo his final year of college eligibility and enter the NBA draft.

Three other members of North Carolina’s national championship team – junior center Sean May, junior guard Raymond Felton and freshman forward Marvin Williams – may also apply for the NBA draft before the May 14 deadline.

Players can withdraw before the June 21 deadline as long as they do not hire an agent.

"I felt like I achieved all the deeds I wanted to in college," McCants said. "The goal this year was to win the national championship and we did that. Now my dream is to shake (NBA commissioner) David Stern’s hand and play for an NBA team."

The 6-4 McCants ranked second on the Tar Heels in scoring (16.0 ppg) and shot 49 percent from the field this past season. In the NCAA Tournament, McCants averaged 17.0 points and scored 14 in the 75-70 win over Illinois in the championship game.

"We talked about this (entering the draft) as early as January and Rashad was able to maintain his focus throughout the season," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "I think he will be remembered as a player who helped us win a national championship and as a nice young man."

North Carolina is already losing two senior starters – forwards Jawad Williams and Jackie Manuel.

The 6-9 May was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player after scoring 26 points on 10-of-11 shooting in the win over Illinois.

Randy Foye
Nova Notebook: This Happiness Feels Wright

VU’s head coach discusses last season and what’s ahead

April 12, 2005

The Nova Notebook, by Villanova director of media relations Mike Sheridan, appears each week beginning in the fall and continues through the basketball regular season. In April through August, there are monthly entries. For our April edition, we sat down with Wildcats head coach Jay Wright to discuss a wide range of topics pertaining to Villanova basketball.

NOTEBOOK: You have often stated a preference for evaluating a season when it is complete. Having had several weeks to reflect on the 2004-05 campaign, what are your thoughts?

WRIGHT: I’m really happy for our players and fans. I had almost forgotten how much it means to all of the people at Villanova for this program to have the kind of success we did. I think it’s especially important to basketball alums. All through the NCAA Tournament we received calls and notes from our former players. In each instance they mentioned how much pride they took in the program, how hard the guys played and how they conducted themselves.

We’re just a small part of this great tradition and it just feels so good to see everyone in the Villanova family enjoying this.

NOTEBOOK: The Final Four is a gathering place for many prominent basketball people, including coaches. What was the response you received from some of those people when you attended this year’s event in St. Louis?

WRIGHT: The response brought a great sense of pride to our staff. Every basketball coach we met, be it a Division II or III coach or one of the top Division I guys, commented to us about how hard our guys played and that our team was enjoyable to watch play. It gave our staff a great sense of accomplishment.

But it was funny, too. I would be standing in the coaches lobby and another coach would spot me, walk up and say, "You guys got robbed." That’s how they would start a conversation. Jerry Tarkanian said it on a radio show. But after that they all went on to talk about the way our guys competed and, as a coach, that’s something that you take a lot of pride in.

The overwhelming sentiment was that people were impressed with our guys’ toughness and their togetherness.

NOTEBOOK: The official’s whistle in the final moments against North Carolina has, as you mentioned, received a lot of notice. Yet there also has been a lot of attention paid to how the team handled the circumstances of the defeat. Is that something people outside Villanova took note of?

WRIGHT: That’s something I failed to mention earlier. Everyone I spoke with was very complementary to me about the way we dealt with that. I received nice letters from alums and the coaches all mentioned that as well. People told me our players were outstanding and that they just exuded class after the North Carolina game.

That’s something we all want to do. We all realize that we represent something larger than just ourselves. We represent Villanova University and Villanova Basketball. It wasn’t anything calculated – it’s the way our guys conducted themselves all season. They had been through enough adversity that they had plenty of practice to deal with those situations.

I was very proud of them. We never addressed how to handle the media in the locker room after the game. We just said that there are things you can control and things that are out of your control. We made some mistakes in the game. There were things we could have controlled in the game that would have made that call less a part of the outcome than it was. But I told the guys I was still proud of them and loved their effort.

NOTEBOOK: Randy Foye excelled in the five postseason games, averaging 21 ppg and being named to the Big East and Syracuse region all-tournament teams. Did he take a step forward in your mind over the last six weeks of the season?

WRIGHT: Randy really has played himself into a great position. He came to Villanova as a highly touted player and in his three years here has really developed into an all-around player, one of the top college basketball players in the country. He’s been very coachable and has shown a willingness to adjust his game. It was really nice for him to be able to show that on a national stage.

Randy has really set the tone for our program. Great players can see that if you come to Villanova, you are going to get better and you are going to be surrounded by good people, not just coaches, but players.

NOTEBOOK: Can you offer us a health update on Randy, Curtis Sumpter (torn ACL in his right knee) and Jason Fraser (knees)?

WRIGHT: Randy is fine. He has a fracture of a tiny bone in his hand and it was something he played with throughout the season. It was decided to put him in a cast for a few weeks just because we can do it now. I expect him to be ready to participate in our individual workouts later this month.

Curtis has gone through an extensive pre-hab program. He has really worked hard to put his body into an advantageous position going into surgery. We think this will allow him to recuperate more quickly after he has the surgery, which is scheduled for April 15.

Jason has a decision to make. He can have surgery on both of his knees, which would probably help him long-term with a professional career. Or he can opt to not have surgery, and play in the limited manner he did this season for the next couple of years. We are trying to investigate the options we have and that’s what we are in the process of doing right now.

NOTEBOOK: Do you anticipate that any of the players will have the opportunity to compete in international competition or in other events, as several did last year?

WRIGHT: We have some great opportunities coming up for our guys this summer. Our summer program is very important to us. A lot of the opportunities come as a result of alumni donations. Our guys have to actually solicit alumni to sponsor them on a summer tour. It’s a very critical component of their development.

Randy will have an opportunity to try out for the World University Games team. We will probably have some guys attend the Pete Newell Big Man Camp. It will be a very busy summer for our guys. They will have the opportunity to get out and expand their games.

NOTEBOOK: Do you expect Randy Foye to participate in June’s National Basketball Association Draft Camp in Chicago?

WRIGHT: Right now we are looking into that opportunity for Randy. At this point, it looks like he would go to test the waters. He would not retain an agent. He would go as much for the experience of working out against the best players in the country as he would to find out where he stands.

Randy is in no hurry to go to the NBA. He is in a position where he could get a great experience and find out exactly where he stands.

NOTEBOOK: One of the original members of your staff, Fred Hill, departed last week to become the associate head coach at Rutgers. What are your thoughts about Fred’s exit and what that loss means to the program?

WRIGHT: We want every one of our assistants to move on to become head coaches. Being at Villanova enhances your career and it has throughout this program’s history. We want all of our guys on staff to be in a position to move up and improve themselves.

Both Freddie and I viewed this as a great opportunity to advance his career. The people at Rutgers have indicated to Freddie that there is a very good chance he could become the head coach there at some point. When we heard that, we thought this was a great spot for him because it is home and his father is the head baseball coach there. Freddie’s been connected to Rutgers for a long time.

We will sorely miss Freddie. But as is the case with every member of our Villanova family, when there is a chance for someone to improve their situation, we always want to encourage them. We’re happy for Freddie and his new opportunity.

NOTEBOOK: Is there a timetable to fill that vacancy on the staff?

WRIGHT: We are going to put Pat Chambers on the road temporarily. We will not be down a man in recruiting.

We will take our time in the next month or so to find who the best fit for our program is.

NOTEBOOK: What was your message to the team at the close of the season?

WRIGHT: We put an inordinate emphasis during the season on focusing only on the next game. We try not to look at the past or beyond the next game. Our idea is to sit back and look back at what we accomplished when it is all over.

When we had our final meeting of the season I encouraged our guys to look back at what we accomplished and the bumps along the road. I wanted them to sit back and look at the times of despair as well as the good times. Then we discussed them relaxing. I really wanted them to take the three weeks at the end of the season to decompress. We start in the spring and are so intense, it’s good to take a break.

On Monday (April 18) we will start up again with individual instruction. It starts a new cycle. We will start from ground zero. We haven’t proven anything. With all of our accomplishments we have, in a sense, become new people. Even though we don’t lose anyone other than Tom (Grace), we are all new people. Now we have to mesh all those people to become the team we are going to be next season.

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