Jay Wright couldn't help but wonder what was going on.

The Villanova head coach and one of his assistants, Ed Pinckney, had driven to Herndon (Va.) High School to visit with star guard Scottie Reynolds and try to persuade him to come to their university. But the object of their interest kept looking at his watch.

"I'm thinking, 'Aw, is this kid not interested in us?' " Wright recalled yesterday.

Actually, Reynolds had to cut the meeting short so he could catch a flight to Baton Rouge, La., home of Louisiana State. It was the last official visit he would make before announcing his choice of a college, which, to Wright's joy and relief, turned out to be Villanova.

Tonight, Reynolds, now a sophomore and the team's leading scorer, will lead the 25th-ranked Wildcats (5-1) onto the Wachovia Center floor to play LSU (5-2) in the nightcap of a Big East/SEC Invitational doubleheader.

However, back on that nerve-racking May weekend in 2006, Wright had to be thinking that Reynolds had a good chance to be in the Tigers' backcourt rather than the Wildcats'.

"I was scared to death," Wright said. "We had such a great visit. I just thought: 'We might have just been a day too late. Maybe if we could have gotten in there the day before, met with him, met with his family, developed a deeper bond.'

"He went down there, and he was going to look and listen. He's real smart, and his parents were real smart. But when you're going through it, you don't know the people, so you're scared to death. We sweated the whole weekend."

Reynolds, who originally had committed to Oklahoma but was released from his letter of intent after Kelvin Sampson left the university, said his meeting with Wright and Pinckney lasted just 45 minutes before he had to leave. The coaches then met with his high school coach and his parents without him.

"I was ready to go down there and see how Baton Rouge was, how LSU was," Reynolds said. "They just came off their Final Four appearance. Big Baby" - Glen Davis, now with the Boston Celtics - "was just awesome with me, and it was great getting to know him and everything. The time down there was unforgettable.

"Everything was just scrambling around. Just coming back on the flight, I was evaluating everything and hoping everything worked out. I couldn't have asked for a better situation."

LSU swingman Dameon Mason, who hosted Reynolds on his visit, said the Villanova sophomore is "an outstanding guard who understands his position and knows how to score, knows how to pass, and knows how to get guys in position to score.

"He would have made a difference to any team that got him."

Reynolds, who is averaging 17 points per game, mentioned center Chris Johnson, a fellow Virginian, and forward Tasmin Mitchell as two friends of his on the LSU team. Mitchell is out for the season after having undergone ankle surgery. But the 6-foot-11 Johnson is averaging 12.9 points and 5.3 rebounds.

"I played with Chris in the summer a couple of times," Reynolds said. "We stay in touch and everything."

Johnson is part of a strong 1-2 inside punch with 6-10 freshman Anthony Randolph, who is averaging 15.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.3 blocks.

The Tigers are led in scoring by 6-4 junior guard Marcus Thornton, a junior-college transfer averaging nearly 20 points. As a team, LSU is shooting 49.4 percent from the field and has blocked 8.3 shots per game.

"We didn't think we would see anybody bigger or more athletic than N.C. State," Wright said, referring to the team that handed the Wildcats their only loss of the season. But LSU "is quicker and more athletic. It's going to be a tough matchup."

For Villanova, whether forward Shane Clark, the team's No. 2 scorer and rebounder, will start will be a game-time decision. Clark missed the Penn game with a hip flexor injury suffered Nov. 25 against North Carolina State.

At least the Wildcats know they'll have Reynolds in Villanova blue, not LSU purple. It's something Reynolds tweaks Wright about from time to time.

"When he talks about his stories and everything, that's one he remembers most about me," Reynolds said. "We joke that when I'm in his presence, I'm going to leave."

Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or jjuliano@phillynews.com.