Point guard Jalen Brunson came to Villanova as a big-time recruit.
As a freshman he helped the Wildcats win a national title in a valuable supporting role. Last season he was the second-leading scorer (14.7 points), behind Big East player of the year Josh Hart, on a team that went 32-4. Now, as a junior, he's already been voted as the player to succeed Hart in a preseason poll of conference coaches.
And on Monday Brunson was among five players voted by national media onto the Associated Press preseason All-America team.
He joins Michigan State's 6-foot-7 sophomore, Miles Bridges, who received 61 votes from the 65-member panel, 14 more than Notre Dame senior forward Bonzie Coles. Arizona junior shooting guard Allonzo Trier and 6-foot-10 Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. were the others who made it. Brunson got 33 votes.
"Last year he stepped up a little more," said Villanova coach Jay Wright. "But this year he's stepped up to become the player and leader that he is. He's just a natural born leader."
The Wildcats, who are ranked sixth, open Friday night against Columbia at the Wells Fargo Center. They are the favorites to win their fifth consecutive Big East regular-season title. They're also the defending tournament champions.