May 16, 2021 –
Villanova men’s basketball coach Jay Wright will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2021. The announcement was made earlier today on ESPN. The ceremony will be held in Springfield, MA on Saturday, September 11. The induction is an honor that Wright describes as ‘overwhelming’ as well as ‘stunning’ ’emotional’ ‘humbling’.
Members of The Class of 2021 in addition to Wright are; Val Ackerman, Rick Adelman, Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce, Bill Russell, Ben Wallace, Chris Webber, Yolanda Griffith, Lauren Jackson, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Howard Garfinkel, Clarence ‘Fats’ Jenkins, Toni Kukoc, Bob Dandridge, and Pearl Moore.
To meet with this group is an experience that left a feeling of awe.
“You are in awe because of why you are with them,” Wright said. “You in awe by the magnitude of being with hall of famers. The cool part is hanging and talking with basketball guys. Just talking basketball shows how comfortable everybody was.”
Wright has been a head coach for 27 seasons. He spent seven years and Hofstra and twenty at Villanova. The overall win total is 612, and was the winning coach in the 2016 and 2018 NCAA National Championship game.
These are statistics. Wright is so much more.
He is a teacher, never missing a teaching point. The care he has for his players and those around the program is something to be admired. A trait he learned from his mentors including former Villanova Coach Rollie Massimino, just teaching young guys how to be their best.
For example in a February 24th game against St. John’s two reserve players Brandon Slater and Bryan Antoine combined on a highlight reel play. Antione came up with a steal close to the sideline, fed the ball to a streaking Slater who jammed it home. On the ensuing possession Slater stole the ball and a dunked it to increase the lead to 28 – 12.
This is what the coach saw about that play.
“You want to see these guys grow, that’s why you coach college,” Wright said. “You want to see them learn how to play on this level, gain confidence in themselves, and how hard they worked to get to this point. In the long run that excites me more than wins.”
The last sentence summarizes Wright and his proper perspective.
His players buy-in to playing forty minutes of Villanova basketball.
In a year that defied anything anyone could think of, think back to what he endured. There may not have been a season. Then there was. Later there was a pause and Wright himself contracted the virus. The season restarted. Point guard Collin Gillespie would not finish the year due to injury. The team lost in the first round of the Big East Tournament. Then would redeem themselves going to the Sweet 16 losing to eventual national champion Baylor. A lesser team would have folded. Jay found a way to make them better.
In his presence Wright shows the utmost respect for those he is in contact with. An up person who makes you feel good about yourself. It’s not about just himself, it was everyone involved.
“Today was a great day for our program and our staff and it was something we are all really proud of,” said Wright.
It adds up to a Hall of Famer. Well Deserved!
Written By: Glenn Papazian
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