Since Jay Wright first arrived at Villanova in 2001, he has built a winning tradition at the school throughout the 2000s and into this decade as well. He has also groomed some extremely talented players, some of which currently represent the Wlidcats in the NBA.
One of these players, Randy Foye of the Denver Nuggets, also happens to be whom I consider the best player of the 2000s for the Villanova Wildcats, slightly edging out Scottie Reynolds.
Villanova recruited Foye out of East High School in Newark, New Jersey, where in 2003 he was named the New Jersey Player of the Year.
He came to Villanova and immediately made an offensive impact, seeing a hair under 27 minutes per game and rewarding Jay Wright & Co. with 10.3 points per game. This offensive output in his freshman season would be a sign of things to come, as Foye never averaged less than double figures during his four-year career.
Foye was also a coaches' dream, because with how strongly he began his career as a scorer, he continued to improve year-by-year. In fact, while at Villanova, Foye increased both his averages in points and rebounds every single season, as he continued to get better and better as his career progressed.
Easily his best season for the Wildcats came in his senior year, where his productivity reached a new high. He set career highs in points (20.5), minutes (34.7) and rebounds (5.8) as he became the go-to scorer on a team that included another backcourt star in Allan Ray (not to be confused with UCONN great Ray Allen).
That season, Foye was rewarded for his success with an award that is rare in Villanova basketball. He won the 2006 Big East Player of the Year Award beating out his teammate Ray and future NBA star Rudy Gay. By winning the award, Foye only the second Villanova player to ever receive the honor, joining Villanova great Kerry Kittles.
Now, you may wonder, why him over another Wildcat great in Reynolds?
Well, in my honest opinion, you could really go either way with the argument and have an extremely strong case to back yourself up, because both were great players and top-10 players all-time in Wildcats history. In the end though, I went with Foye because he was a better all-around player (thus the Big East POY award), and focused more on individual accolades and ability rather than team success during his time there. If I would've focused more on team success, I think you'd have to lean with Reynolds there, because he was the main contributor on a more successful team (Final Four vs. the Elite Eight).
Also, I give the edge to Foye because he was and still is one of the most gifted scorers to ever done a Wildcat uniform. He could score in a multitude of ways, and in college, he was almost impossible to stop offensively because he could hurt you in so many different forms. He was great at finishing at the hoop, but also had a dangerous mid-range game. He also improved vastly on his 3-point shooting, over his career. When he first arrived at ‘Nova, he struggled mightily form beyond the arc, hovering around 30 percent over his first two seasons. By his senior season though, he had bumped that number up to 35 percent, and while that's not fantastic, with all his other offensive weapons it was extremely acceptable for a third option offensively.
You could even make a case that Foye was part of the group that helped turn around Villanova basketball under Coach Wright. When Foye committed to Villanova, the team was coming off of a 15-16 record in his second season as head coach. In Foye's first season, the ‘Cats went 18-17 and have accumulated the same amount of losing seasons (1) in the 10 years since as Wright had in his first two.
And while Foye may not have panned out as many had hoped in the NBA, his legacy will forever remain as one of the best ever to play at ‘Nova, and in my mind, the best Villanova Wildcat to ever play the game during the 2000s.