Post-ti­tle sum­mer was Jay’s most ex­cel­lent ad­ven­ture

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Dan Gel­ston


Jay Wright calmly mouthed one word when Kris Jenk­ins hit the 3-pointer at the buzzer that won Villanova a na­tional cham­pi­onship. The Wild­cats re­turned home the next day for a pep rally at the cam­pus foot­ball sta­dium, and their cel­e­bra­tory vic­tory tour has barely slowed down since April.

The White House. Wall Street. The ESPYs. The ticker tape pa­rade. The Philadel­phia pro­fes­sional sports teams feted the Wild­cats with first pitch, first puck, first tip fun. Wright de­liv­ered a pep talk to the Ea­gles. Bas­ket­ball and Basil­ica in Spain. What’s the next chap­ter? Read all about it in Wright’s up­com­ing book, “At­ti­tude.”

Wright sat down with The As­so­ci­ated Press to talk about his fa­vorite mo­ments from a sum­mer where the Wild­cats reigned as the na­tional cham­pi­ons. Here are some of his mem­o­ries from what Wright called, “a wild off­sea­son. Wild. And great.”

••• HAIL TO THE CHAMPS » Pres­i­dent Barack Obama wel­comed the Wild­cats to the White House in May and con­grat­u­lated them for win­ning what he de­scribed as “maybe the best ti­tle game of all time.”

Wait­ing to be in­tro­duced, Wright chat­ted with Obama where the two dis­cussed, well, bas­ket­ball, of course. Obama’s broth­erin-law is for­mer col­lege hoops player and Ore­gon State coach Craig Robin­son and the pres­i­dent fills out an NCAA Tour­na­ment bracket ev­ery year. He even picked the Wild­cats to win the na­tional cham­pi­onship in 2015 (and lost).

“He re­ally knows our busi­ness, re­ally knows it well,” Wright said. “It’s funny to hear the pres­i­dent of the United States say how dif­fi­cult a job we have. And you’re hear­ing it from the pres­i­dent! But we had a re­ally in­sight­ful con­ver­sa­tion about col­lege coach­ing that was awe­some to me.”

••• ’CATS & BIRDS » Wright was in­vited by the Ea­gles to give a pri­vate pep talk to coaches and play­ers in June.

“It was all about just be­ing loyal to each other, the Ea­gles, the coaches and play­ers. They’re my fa­vorite team,” Wright said. “I had met (coach) Doug Ped­er­son be­cause of (for­mer coach) Andy Reid and I was friends with Andy.

“I would say the talk with the Pres­i­dent was first and then the Ea­gles, that was re­ally cool.”

••• EMPTY HANDED » Wright was in Wash­ing­ton for a lead­er­ship sum­mit at the Pen­tagon when he met Los An­ge­les Dodgers ace Clay­ton Ker­shaw back in 2014. Ker­shaw was in town to face the Na­tion­als and the two bumped into each other at the Ritz.

Ker­shaw was ex­cited to re­unite with Wright two years later on the red car­pet for the ESPYs.

“He was like, ‘I want to take a pic­ture with the ring. I’ve got to get one of those, I don’t have one of those,’” Wright said, laugh­ing.

Ker­shaw then threw Wright a curve — that the Wild­cats weren’t go­ing to win any awards.

“He said, ‘Did you win?”’ Wright said. “I was like, well, we were nom­i­nated for three. As he said it, I re­al­ized, we would know if we won. He kind of started back­ing off. ‘No, no, no. I just re­mem­ber last year I was up for one and the guy who won knew he won.’ It hit me be­fore we went in there, we prob­a­bly didn’t win. We would have known if we won.”

••• MOV­ING ON » The Wild­cats stamped their pass­ports for an eight-day tour of Spain that in­cluded three ex­hi­bi­tion games against Span­ish Se­lect teams. The Wild­cats toured Barcelona and Madrid in rel­a­tive anonymity and avoided mobs of au­to­graph seek­ers.

Lit­tle known fact, Villanova is named for a Span­ish Au­gus­tinian, Thomas Gar­cía (1486-1555), the son of a miller who was born in Fuen­l­lana, a vil­lage near Vil­lanueva de los In­fantes, Castile, Spain.

Known fact, fans know who the Wild­cats are in Philadel­phia.

“We got back and peo­ple started tak­ing pic­tures of us again,” Wright said. “It smacked us right in the face. In Spain, no one knew us. No one both­ered us. But we got smacked in the face wait­ing for our bags. Ev­ery­body started ask­ing for pic­tures be­cause we were all to­gether. It was all just a smack in the face of re­al­ity.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.