Villanova Basketball: Potential impact of Saddiq Bey’s impending decision

Villanova basketball’s Saddiq Bey is currently testing the NBA Draft waters. How will his impending decision impact the Wildcats next season?

Even though the 2020 college basketball offseason is already a couple of months complete, there are still some stars that are yet to make their decisions regarding the NBA Draft. This includes the likes of Tyrell Terry (Stanford), Isaiah Joe (Arkansas), and Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois), among others. Perhaps most importantly, though, Villanova basketball’s Saddiq Bey is among those as he is yet to officially end his collegiate career and is leaving open the possibility of a return to Philadelphia.

A former Top 150 prospect from the 2018 recruiting class, Bey made a strong impact in his first year at Villanova but really exploded during this past season as a sophomore. Following the graduations of Eric Paschall and Phil Booth, Bey was tasked with stepping as a scorer and he did just that. While starting all 31 contests, he posted averages of 16.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game for a team that finished 24-7 (13-5 BE) prior to the cancelation of the postseason.

Moving forward, it is easy to see why NBA scouts are intrigued by Bey’s potential at the next level. With the importance of perimeter shooting in the modern era, 6-foot-8 knockdown catch-and-shoot threats are extremely valuable. Bey shot 45.1 percent from distance as a sophomore on nearly six perimeter attempts per game. Additionally, he projects as someone that could develop into a multi-positional stopper on the defensive end.

While he might not be a lottery selection, Bey’s 3-and-D potential at either forward slot makes him a potentially ideal candidate to immediately make an impact at the next level. He is currently projected to be selected in the latter half of the first round and could latch onto a role with a playoff contender from the start of his career. Without pre-draft workouts to showcase his shooting and all-around game, though, there is some uncertainty.

With all of this said, Bey still has a decision to make regarding whether or not he will keep his name in the NBA Draft. The current deadline to finalize this decision is uncertain, but let’s take a dive into how Bey’s choice in either direction will impact Villanova.

Where would Villanova rank with Bey?

Villanova was poised to land a Top 4 seed at the NCAA Tournament during this past season prior to its cancelation. It was an impressive campaign by the Wildcats and a junior-year return by Saddiq Bey would set them up for an even bigger year. This is due to the fact that Villanova is poised to return every single major contributor from that roster. This not only means their entire starting lineup but their main bench pieces as well.

To put it simply, the Wildcats would have one of the most talented rosters in the entire country (along with Gonzaga, Baylor, and a couple of others). They would also be a fairly experienced team with two upperclassmen scoring leaders in Bey and Collin Gillespie to go with an excellent rising sophomore class capable of taking a big leap. With Jay Wright roaming the sidelines as an elite-tier head coach, it’s easy to comprehend why expectations would be sky-high for Nova.

With Bey back in the fold, Villanova might be the preseason No. 1 team in the nation and the favorite to win the national title. Reaching that goal (obviously easier said than done) would give the program its third banner in just the last six years.

Where would Villanova rank without Bey?

Considering the massive amount of talent that Villanova is already returning, the team should be very good even without Bey in tow. Obviously, Coach Wright would happily welcome Bey back to Philly but his return is not a necessity in order for this team to compete for the national championship. His superb contributions would surely be missed, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Wildcats still find a slot among the preseason Top 15. They just wouldn’t be in the group in early championship frontrunners.

Arguably the biggest key for Villanova will be how Bryan Antoine looks when fully healthy. The former five-star forward barely saw the court as a freshman due to injury but could be poised to live up to his previous hype in Year 2. If he is able to experience that breakthrough and emerge as a legitimate contributor or star, then the Wildcats will still be a contender for the No. 1 spot at times next season.

Even without Bey, it would hard to ignore all of these returning pieces for Villanova: Gillespie, Justin Moore, Jermaine Samuels, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Cole Swider, and a few others that saw the court for stretches last season. There is plenty of talent for Coach Wright to work with and mold a title contender. It would just be more difficult without their All-Big East forward.

Next: Way-too-early Top 25 for 2020-21

Saddiq Bey’s looming NBA Draft decision definitely represents one of the most important college basketball headlines for this coming season. Villanova is going to be a very good team regardless of his decision, but a return would put the team in prime position to be a title favorite. There are not many “swing decisions” of this caliber left in the offseason.