Villanova received a No. 1 seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament after going 30-4 overall and winning the Big East Tournament.
One of the important players for the Wildcats throughout their run this season has been point guard Jalen Brunson. Brunson is the team’s undeniable leader, averaging a team-high 19.2 points and 4.7 assists per game. Villanova’s closest game during its NCAA Tournament have been two 12-point victories over West Virginia and Texas Tech.
Who is Jalen Brunson? 5 things to know
1. Jalen Brunson was a 5-star recruit coming out of high school
The 6-foot-2 floor general didn’t come out of nowhere to be the player he is today. In high school, 247Sports ranked Brunson as the No. 22 overall player and No. 4 point guard in the country. He was seen as a 5-star prospect.
2. Jalen Brunson was named the 2018 AP Player of the Year
Brunson’s season can’t be based solely on stats. He means much more to the Wildcats than what the numbers say, but, averaging 19.2 points per game is still impressive. Especially when you’re a point guard who is more than willing to distribute the ball.
Whatever Brunson decided to do this season offensively worked for Villanova, as according to kenpom.com, the Wildcats had the most efficient offense in the country.
“It’s really humbling and it’s something that you can’t really put into words,” said Brunson, after winning the player of the year award. “To know the great players that have won this award and just be named in the same breath, it’s really honoring, and it’s something I’m going to cherish forever.”
3. Jalen Brunson was fourth in minutes per game for Villanova as a freshman
In the 2015-16 season, Brunson was only a freshman. Despite that fact, he finished fourth in minutes per game for Villanova.
That Villanova team, by the way, won the national championship. Even in his first season of college basketball on a national title-winning team, Brunson made his impact felt. He averaged 9.6 points and 2.5 assists per game while shooting 45 percent from the field and 38 percent from 3-point range.
4. Jalen Brunson was given high praise by Michigan guard Zavier Simpson
The day before the national championship game, Michigan guard Zavier Simpson — who will be tasked with defending Brunson — talked up Villanova’s player of the year quite a bit.
“Brunson is actually a lot different from point guards [I’ve faced],” Simpson said. “He does a lot of things, as far as posting up, and he can definitely drive the ball really well, and he can shoot it.
“Sometimes I ran across a few point guards in the past that either can do one or the other. He can do it all (…) In order to be the best, you have to compete with the best.”
5. Jalen Brunson shot over 41 percent from 3-point range this season
It wasn’t too long ago that when a player shot 40 percent or better from behind the arc, they were considered to be an incredibly talented shooter. Nowadays, hitting that number isn’t as rare, but it is still impressive. Brunson, this season, shot 41.3 percent from 3-point range while attempting 5.3 attempts per game.
To give some perspective, no player on Michigan this season who played at least six games shot a better percentage than Brunson. Moritz Wagner led the Wolverines in 3-point percentage at 39.7 percent.