Why wouldn’t he?
There’s nothing left to achieve at Villanova.
He’s the Naismith Player of the Year and a two-time national champion, the Wildcats’ leading scorer this season and a leader on and off the court. He’ll follow his father Rick to the NBA and forego his senior season on the Main Line.
Brunson wrote a letter to Villanova after making his decision, which was published on ESPN:
“Dear Nova Nation,
It is with great honor and privilege that I have called Villanova University my home for the past three years. When I decided to commit to Coach Jay Wright and the basketball program, I was driven by three goals: getting my education, competing at the highest level and winning a national championship. While I pride myself on remaining disciplined and focused to achieve these goals, I have grown as a man and have established lifelong relationships with my teammates, classmates, members of the basketball staff, fellow student-athletes and the wonderful educators and administrators of this prestigious university.
After careful consideration and prayer, I have decided to enter the 2018 NBA draft and hire an agent. I want to thank my parents, family members including extended family, and close friends for their continued love and support through this process. I would also like to thank all the coaches that I have had throughout my career for everything they have done for me and my family. Lastly, I want to thank my teammates for welcoming me to a family that I am forever grateful for being able to join.
Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat!
Brunson averaged 18.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 4.6 assists this season. He shot the ball at a 52.1% clip and hit 40.8% of his three pointers. Per game, he committed a measly 1.8 turnovers in 31.8 minutes and finished in double figures in every single contest except the national title victory over Michigan.
Most experts see Brunson going late in the first round or early in the second round. He’s not going to wow anybody with his athleticism, his 6’2″ height, or his limited wing span, but he has a veteran feel for the game, plays a smart brand of basketball, and is a reliable shooter.
I think this blurb from Jonathan Wasserman at Bleacher Report pretty much nails it:
He ranks in the 96th percentile or better in each major guard category: pick-and-roll ball-handling, transition, spot-up and isolation. And he’s shooting an elite 61.1 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers and 56.1 percent on jumpers off the dribble.
It’s still fair to question how well he’ll defend NBA point guards, and if he’ll be able to blow by them and finish at the rim. A perceived low ceiling may keep him from drawing first-round consideration.
But as a second-round option, Brunson has too much going for him to nitpick at deficiencies that enough current pro guards have gotten away with. Leading America’s No. 1 team, scoring and passing with extreme efficiency and effectiveness, Brunson is building a case as a pro game-manager or backup.
I could see Brunson being an 8 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists type of guy as a rookie running somebody’s second unit. Golden State? He’s gonna fall in that range where some of the better teams are picking, unless they decide to pass and he falls to the early second round instead. It’s highly unlikely the Sixers show interest, since they already have Markelle Fultz and T.J. McConnell in secondary ball-handling roles. I guess that could change slightly if Fultz ends up assuming an off-the-ball position alongside Ben Simmons next year. The Sixers do have second round picks to burn.
For comparisons, I’ve heard Andre Miller, Shabazz Napier, and Mark Jackson and Derek Fisher, too. Fisher is a great example; 6’1″, another lefty, a point guard who didn’t have amazing measurables but went 24th overall and ended up winning a bunch of rings.
We’ll see. It’s basically going to come down to how much value teams place on Brunson’s IQ, leadership, and steadiness. No matter what happens in June, he’ll have one hell of a college career to look back on: