Dylan Ennis wanted to be closer to home. And he wanted to play in the Big East. So he's coming to Villanova.

The 6-2 lead guard, who averaged 8.5 points and 4.1 assists as a freshman starter last season at Rice, is transferring to the Main Line. He will have three seasons of eligibility remaining, but is considering applying to the NCAA for a hardship waiver that would make him available immediately.

His family lives in Toronto. His brother Brandon plays at the University of the District of Columbia. Another brother, Tyler, is a highly regarded senior at St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, N.J., where ex-Wildcat Corey Stokes went.

The Wildcats are supposedly one of the schools in the recruiting mix for Tyler. But as their father, Tony McIntyre, said: "If you have one, you don't need the other."

Coach Jay Wright isn't allowed to comment on Dylan until all the paperwork has been processed, which could take several days.

"Rice did nothing wrong," said Ennis, whose other finalist was Cincinnati. "But the flight from Houston to Toronto is long. This way my family will have an opportunity to see a lot more games. They can drive down on weekends, and my brothers can just take a bus. That's big for me."

Sources have said the Wildcats are also close to getting another transfer point guard, Ss. Neumann-Goretti product Tony Chennault, who decided to leave Wake Forest (where he started as a sophomore) after two seasons because his mother is experiencing health issues. He's awaiting word on his hardship application.

"I talked to him," Ennis said. "I don't think my decision will affect his. If he comes, it'll be great for the team."

As for his brother . . .

"We're two separate players," he said. "It's his decision. If we play together, that's great. But we like to compete. So maybe we'll play against each other."

Villanova, which tied a program record with 19 losses last season and missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004, has to replace two starting guards, Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek. The team's leading scorers, they left a year early to pursue professional careers.

"As a player, you always want to test your limits, see how far you can go in the game," Ennis said. "The Big East is one of the best conferences in the country. It's going to help me develop, at a higher level, whether it's right away or a year from now."

Contact Mike Kern at kernm@phillynews.com