It always seemed unlikely that Jay Wright would actually walk away from the school where he’s won two national championships, and from a team talented and experienced enough to win another title next season, to become the coach of the Philadelphia 76ers.
But you never know!
And that’s why the statement the future Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame coach published Wednesday afternoon, at 1:15 ET, provided a sense of relief for any nervous Villanova fans who had been waiting for some public words from Wright, who immediately became a candidate for the NBA job in his hometown the moment the 76ers fired Brett Brown last week. After praising Philadelphia’s front office, and the young talent in the organization, Wright concluded his statement (delivered via Twitter) with the following sentences: “I am not a candidate for the [76ers] job. I am very happy and honored to coach at Villanova.”
So that, as they say, is that.
Whether Wright is not a candidate for the 76ers job because he didn’t want to be a candidate for the 76ers job, or because he realized Philadelphia was likely headed in a different direction with its coaching search, remains unclear. But it also doesn’t matter. Because, either way, the bottom line is the same, and the bottom line is this: Jay Wright will be coaching Villanova next season and, presumably, for many seasons to come, which is obviously great for the Big East school and college basketball in general.
Simply put, he’s one of the best.
The 58 year-old is already more accomplished than most and universally liked and respected. He’s won two of the past four NCAA Tournaments — first in 2016, then in 2018. And considering his Wildcats are currently ranked third in the 2020-21 CBS Sports Preseason Top 25 And 1, it’s not crazy to suggest he could become, next April, at the age of 59, just the seventh person in Division I history to win at least three national championships. The six men already in the club are all legends — namely John Wooden (10), Mike Krzyzewski (5), Adolph Rupp (4), Roy Williams (3), Jim Calhoun (3) and Bob Knight (3).
Does this guarantee Wright will someday retire at Villanova?
Given the nature of the NBA, whomever the 76ers hire next might come and go in the span of a couple of years, at which point Philadelphia could decide to make a serious run at Wright one last time. And if the job is more appealing then, and if Wright is more interested in the lifestyle change that coaching in the NBA provides then, perhaps that will be the time he finally jumps to the NBA. Who knows? But if I were a Villanova fan, I’d worry about that another day because this day should be a day of relief and celebration.
The greatest coach in Villanova history is staying at Villanova.
He tweeted the news Wednesday.
Now Villanova fans can breathe.