Q&A with Villanova commit Cole Swider – He discusses the Wildcats season & gives advice to younger players

Senior wing Cole Swider from St. Andrew’s High School in Rhode Island and Villanova commit caught up with Hoop Group Insider to discuss the Wildcats’ impressive season thus far, his plans heading into the summer and much more.

Q: With your high school career being over, what are you now focusing on?

A: “Right now since I don’t have to worry about AAU, I’ve been working on gearing up college so I’ve been working on my body,” said Swider. “I’ve also been trying to fine tune my game so it will translate to the system I’ll end up playing in college. It’s not about short term it’s about long term right now. Before I used to be concerned that if I lift weights I’ll be sore for the weekend, but now I can lift weights and focus on long term development.”

Q: What have you seen from Villanova this season that has impressed you?

A: “I see that I fit in really well with their team,” he said. “They have seen me play and have told me that they like my competitiveness. I just really like their system and I feel like they will put me in positions to score and I can’t wait for that.”

Q: How do the coaches plan on using you on the floor when you get there?

A: “Coach Jay Wright told me to watch Mikal Bridges with the situations they put him in,” said Swider. “His role on the team will be similar to what mine will be when I get there. I’ve been watching him closely and have been going off of that.”

Q: What goals have you set for yourself next year when you get to Villanova?

A: “I just want to play Villanova basketball and hopefully win a national championship,” Swider said. “If I’m able to help in those two ways then everything will take care of itself.”

Q: What would you attribute your increased development to throughout your high school career?

A: “I mean definitely growing into my body,” Swider said. “I had a size 15 shoe when I was 6’0” feet tall so that was huge for me. Being under the radar my freshman and sophomore year definitely gave me motivation to play against those top guys every weekend. Obviously, another factor is working hard and staying in the gym. I think a combination of all of those things reflects me well today.”

Q: You flew under the radar until the latter part of your high school career. What advice would you give to younger kids that haven’t seen that type of exposure just yet?

A: “In middle school I didn’t play for a sponsored AAU team or anything,” said Swider. “My thing was that I saw all of these top guys ahead of me in middle school and it didn’t matter to me. I always thought long term with it and made sure to keep improving. You have to stay patient and keep working. The players ahead of you in middle school may be relaxed so I always told myself that I would get these guys when I’m older.”

What Happened This Weekend in College Basketball

It was a wild weekend in the college basketball world. Championships were won and lost all week. Some teams showed us they can be better than expected, others the opposite. Here’s your College Basketball weekend recap.

Villanova Wins Battle 4 Atlantis

In a tournament where Purdue and Arizona played in the last place game, it was Villanova who cruised to a championship in the Bahamas. The Wildcats look like a well-oiled machine with a top six that is as good as any in the nation. Donte DiVincenzo looks like the sixth man of the year and Jalen Brunson has looked like Big East Player of the Year. It should not come as a surprise, but Villanova will live within the Top 5 in the Polls for most of the year.

Arizona State Appears a Year Ahead of Schedule

Bobby Hurley is building something at Arizona State. Anyone who has kept an eye on the program would be able to tell you that. After edging Kansas State on Thanksgiving, the Sun Devils dominated number 15 Xavier on Saturday night to move to 6-0. Hurley’s top two returnees, Tra Holder and Shannon Evans, have been great so far. Holder erupted for 40 against Xavier, and has another 30+ points game on the young season. Freshman Romello White has already showed why he was highly touted, and contributing for ASU. With a couple key rotation players still missing, Arizona State could compete in the Pac-12 sooner than later.

Alabama Played 3 on 5

In the category of “Something You Don’t See Everyday,” Alabama played the last 10 minutes of their game against Minnesota with three players. The Tide lost their entire bench in the second half for leaving the bench area in the midst of an on court scuffle. They then saw one player foul out, and another leave with injury, leaving Avery Johnson with three eligible players for over 10 minutes. All that said, they still lost to a ranked team by just five points. While there are no morale victories, that’s impressive. The story here is Colin Sexton. The freshman found shined in the loss, going off for 40 points on 55% shooting. He showed why he is one of the most exciting players in the country.

Trae Young Outscored Oregon

That’s not a typo. Trae Young has been as good as advertised thus far in Norman. Young has upped his scoring in all five games this season, and capped the weekend off with a 43 put outburst against Oregon, who only managed 42 points as a team. This outburst comes just two days after he dropped 33 on Portland. Young has been nothing short of sensational thus far, averaging 28.2 points and 8.6 assists for Lon Kruger. I’ve mentioned before that Young could be the best freshman in the Big 12 since Kevin Durant, and he’s supporting that statement five games in.

Michigan State, Duke Win PK80

In a tournament that lived up to the hype, we saw Michigan State and Duke walk out of the PK80 with championships. For Michigan State, they dominated early and often against North Carolina. They completely shut down the Tar Heels’ offense and got 23 points from Josh Langford. It showed how scary the Spartans can be, winning handily against a top 10 team without huge performances from Jaren Jackson or Miles Bridges. The story was the defense however, as Tom Izzo’s squad held UNC to 25% shooting, the lowest total in program history.

Duke’s path to victory was very different. The Blue Devils were punched in the mouth early by a sizzling hot Florida club. They trailed by as many as 17 before mounting their championship comeback. Like the rest of the PK80, this championship game was just another national stage for Marvin Bagley to shine on. The freshman phenom poured in 30 and recorded 15 rebounds on his way to a MVP performance. Teams are not entirely put together during most of these early season tournaments (i.e. Arizona) but that’s scary for college basketball because it shows how high Duke’s ceiling can be.

Marvin Bagley Looks Like a Top Pick

Coming off the tough news concerning Michael Porter Jr, Marvin Bagley showed us why he is worthy of the number one pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Bagley’s talent is much more than his scoring. Sure he put in 34 against Texas and had another dominant game against Florida, but what makes Bagley so special is he’s always moving. He is always around the rim, getting numerous tip ins and second chance points and he’s a man on the boards. He’s definitely got NBA scouts salivating.

The SEC is Far From Just Kentucky

Florida made it to the Finals of the PK80 Motion Bracket. Texas A&M beat number 10 USC in California. Missouri made it to the Finals of the Advocare Invitational and almost took down number 23 West Virginia. Even Tennessee and Georgia beat ranked teams in Purdue and St. Mary’s this weekend. Add in a full strength Alabama team that went toe to toe with Minnesota, and the SEC could be the second best conference in college basketball this year. Of course time will tell, but don’t be surprised if Kentucky is not at the top of the SEC standings by end of year.

Big East Basketball: 2017-2018 Conference Preview

 

big east ball

Coming back from a relatively underwhelming 2016-2017 campaign, the Big East looks poised to make a bold statement this year to competitors from all conferences, while also securing a handful of bids to the NCAA Tournament in March. Big East play is bound to be exciting for everyone, so let’s break the conference down for a preseason preview and our predictions. 

 

PROJECTED FINISHES 

  1. Villanova — Few people will be surprised to find Villanova atop the Big East for the fifth year in a row. Not only should the Wildcats survive without superstar Josh Hart, they look poised to return even stronger. With redshirt freshman Omari Spellman cleared to play and Jalen Brunson set to step into the leadership position, the Wildcats should clinch the Big East without too much competition.
  2. Xavier — Xavier surprised a lot of college basketball fans last year with their trip to the Elite 8, but if the same happens this year, it would come as no shock. Trevon Bluiett’s decision to return to the Musketeers and forgo the NBA Draft will be a large part of Xavier’s dominance, but the return of shooting guard JP Macura to the wings could prove to be just as lethal.
  3. Seton Hall — It seems like it has been too long since the Pirates have been a dominant basketball team, and that time of waiting is over. Seton Hall returns arguably the strongest trio of seniors in the country (Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, and Angel Delgado) who will run the court with veteran talent. Delgado, a 6’10” power forward who can double as a center, threatens to average double-digit numbers in both points and rebounds per game.
  4. Providence — Providence finished top five in the Big East last year, surprising many people who wrote them off preseason as a team in a rebuilding year. Kyron Cartwright is one of the best point guards in the Big East and could easily lead the conference in assists; the Friars bring in more talent this year in freshman Makai Ashton-Langford, giving them the depth they need to threaten for an NCAA Tournament bid, and a run once they get there.
  5. Creighton — Marcus Foster is a beast, simply put. As a junior shooting guard last year, he averaged over 18 points per game; this year, he could break 20. The loss of Cole Huff and Isaiah Zierden puts a considerable hole in their production, but they should have the depth to stay near the top of the conference table.
  6. Marquette — The name Markus Howard may not mean much to people outside of the Golden Eagles fan base, but it will after this season. Last year, he shot just under 55% from three, even more astonishing numbers when you consider he was a freshman. Look to him to lead a very high scoring Marquette offense this year.
  7. Butler — The Bulldogs had good reason to be excited for this year, after being the only team in the NCAA to beat Villanova twice last season. But the late departure of Coach Holtmann may leave the new coach, LaVall Jordan, with a team in disarray. With a handful of talented players in back-court transfer Paul Jorgensen and guard Kamar Baldwin, Jordan could easily take the only team to beat Villanova twice last year to the top, but it’s too early to tell.
  8. St. John’s — The Red Storm have talent in point guard combo Marcus Lovett Jr. and Shamorie Ponds, who should account for most of the team’s offense. The team’s depth does not go much farther beyond these two however, and unless forward Bashir Ahmed can utilize his seniority, St. John’s could quickly fall to the bottom of the conference without a solidified leader.
  9. DePaul — DePaul has had a tough struggle on the court in recent years, finishing at the bottom of the conference table with two wins last season. This year, transfer Marin Maric and junior shooting guard Elijah Cain will help to begin the program’s revival, but it won’t be enough to bring them up more than one or two spots with the tough competition in the Big East.
  10. Georgetown — The Hoyas will be an intriguing team to watch this season, as it will be the first year with Georgetown and NBA legend Patrick Ewing taking over as head coach. His roster is rag-tag at its best, anchored by center Jessie Govan who is one of the few able to do damage to opposing defenses. Ewing’s name and basketball expertise will help Georgetown basketball rebuild, but for now they’ll be stuck at the bottom of the Big East.

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Late Rollie Massimino Leaves Mark On Basketball

Rollie Massimino is a name synonymous with college basketball. When you think of Massimino, you picture a larger-than-life persona in a coach that will forever be remembered as a hero at Villanova and a founder for the Big East Conference. And on Wednesday, Rollie Massimino passed at the age of 82.

The former Villanova coach will be remembered for everything he has done for the game of basketball.

Massimino sealed his name in the record books when he lead the 1984-1985 Wildcats to a NCAA title season as head coach of Villanova. The New Jersey native led his team in what was one of the greatest upsets in the NCAA tournament history, knocking off Georgetown University and its big man, the great Patrick Ewing. He was head coach at Villanova University for 19 seasons and will forever be remembered as a Wildcat.

Massimino coached for more than five decades, starting out as an assistant coach at Cranford High School in Cranford, N.J. His collegiate coaching career started at Stony Brook before he was assistant coach at Penn.

During his 19-year stint at Villanova, Massimino was a part of a crew of outspoken, big personalities that led the almighty Big East Conference during its prime. He was unapologetically an in-your-face coach. And he could back it up.

Massimino spent two years at UNLV from 1992-1994 where he was hired in hopes of bringing back a Runnin’ Rebels ball program to good standing with the forced departure of coach Jerry Tarkanian.

He ended his coaching career with assumed positions at Cleveland State and finally Keiser University, where he earned his 800th career win on Dec. 14, 2016 in its 77-47 blowout win over Trinity Baptist.

Cole Swider – HG Insider Player Spotlight

cole swider

Villanova commit Cole Swider shined at the Oladipo Skills Academy with his elite shooting ability. Swider is coming off a breakout AAU season with BABC. Other schools he was considering were Duke, Xavier and Syracuse. Swider showed what makes him such an intriguing prospect and why he was such a priority for Jay Wright and his staff. Swider led his team at camp in scoring, where he has made his biggest mark on the grassroots scene. He made a statement at the Nike Peach Jam as he averaged 23.2 points per game. Swider is intriguing as he is talented enough to make an impact right away for the Wildcats. He has done a great job showing that he is more than just a shooter this season. Swider is able to get into the lane and create for himself and his teammates because of his improved ball handling.

Swider was flying under the radar prior to this AAU season, but stepped up on the Nike EYBL circuit for BABC and his stock skyrocketed. He has been great during the July live period and seems to only be taking his game to a higher level as this season has progressed. The next step for Swider will be to bring home a NEPSAC “AA” championship for St. Andrew’s. He has played with a lot of confidence and will head into next high school season with a lot of momentum. They will heavily rely on him, but he has shown that he is more than capable of leading a team. The Villanova Wildcats got a great one in Cole Swider and it could be an even bigger get than people realize with the way he has played this summer. Swider is an excellent prospect and is yet another one to watch this high school season.