If his team is going to make a run at another national championship next year, Villa coach Jay Wright certainly would like to have back Josh Hart, his leading scorer this season, and Kris Jenkins, the hero of Monday night's unforgettable title game against North Carolina.
But Wright also has an eye to the future for his two junior stars, which is why he said Wednesday he is "completely supportive" of the decisions of Hart and Jenkins to go through the NBA's draft evaluation process to see where they stand with league scouts.
The NCAA passed a new rule last January that allowed underclassmen to test their draft status without jeopardizing their eligibility. Players may participate in the NBA combine and one team tryout per year. They will be allowed to withdraw from the draft within 10 days after the combine, which is scheduled to be held May 11 through 15 in Chicago, and can return to school provided they have not hired an agent.
"The way the process is set up right now is really helpful to the players and to the coaches because you can really advise them properly," Wright said. "It's set up where they can go through the whole process. The NBA, if they invite them [to the combine], you have a good shot. After you go to the camp, they'll tell you where you are. I just think it's so beneficial to the players."
Wright has said in the past that he would kick Hart, a 6-foot-5 guard who scored 23 points in the national semifinal blowout of Oklahoma, "out the door" if he proved to be a first-round pick.
"If he's a guaranteed first-round pick, I think he's ready to handle it," he said. "I just think it's the right thing to do for him and his family. Sometimes if you don't think maturity-wise they're ready, it might not be a good thing. I think he's ready."
Hart is listed as No. 37 and a possible late first-round pick among players listed on ESPN.com's NBA draft board. Jenkins, a 6-6 forward who hit the game-winning three-point basket Monday night in Houston, is not in the top 100.
"I'll go through the process and see how it goes and get feedback," Jenkins said. "If I hear good things, then I'll go from there. But if it's not what I want to hear, then I have another year left in college and there's nothing wrong with that."
Hart said he "wouldn't even be thinking about going to the NBA" before the rule change.
"Now with how it is, I'm definitely going to go through the whole process and see how that goes," he said.
Hart averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds for the entire season, and 15.0 points and 5.7 rebounds in the NCAA tournament. Jenkins, who sank a full-season total of 100 three-point baskets, shot 56.9 percent overall and 48.6 percent from three-point range in the NCAA tournament, averaging 15.5 points.