While Kris Jenkins' three-pointer at the horn will go down as the most pivotal shot in the illustrious history of Villanova men's basketball, one shouldn't ignore the senior who delivered the crucial pass.
Savvy. Elusive. Fierce. That's Ryan Arcidiacono in a nutshell. The Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA tournament guided the Wildcats to six wins, culminating in a national championship. However, he wouldn't find himself in this scenario without two crucial choices.
Before Arcidiacono committed to 'Nova, the 6-foot-3 guard was heavily recruited by Florida's former head coach Billy Donovan. According to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, Donovan showed up at many of Arcidiacono's workouts at Neshaminy High School, located in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. Thus, his original plan revolved around moving down south and playing for the Gators.
However, mothers seem to always push their children towards a certain direction. During Villanova's Hoops Mania, its form of Midnight Madness, Arcidiacono's mom brought plenty of family members and other folks to the event, persuading her son to call head coach Jay Wright. Both she and his father attended the university, as well.
"I told her I wanted to go to Florida, it was like, take your time," Arcidiacono said in a recent interview with CSN Philly. "But when I told her I wanted to go to Villanova, they were fine with that."
Following Arcidiacono's commitment to the university, he developed into a sensation. As a freshman, he was named a captain, averaging 11.9 points per game. Fans and critics alike know the saga that haunted the program, though.
In Arcidiacono's first three campaigns, Villanova failed to reach the Sweet Sixteen. Last season, the Wildcats held a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance and lost to North Carolina State in the round of 32. Frustration must have seeped into that group, as the roster gushed with talent.
As March Madness approached this season, Wright's bunch lost to Seton Hall in the Big East tournament championship, squandering its chance to earn a No. 1 seed. Despite the disappointment, Arcidiacono and his teammates wouldn't collapse again.
In NCAA tournament, Villanova's leader averaged 15.8 points per contest on 65.9 percent from the field and even posted a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Ironically, his most meaningful pass occurred in the final seconds of his Wildcats' career.
With a couple ticks left against North Carolina, Arcidiacono drew a double-team at the top of the arc. In that spot, a player tends to jack up a contested three-pointer, settling for overtime if he botches his opportunity to be the hero. The senior swayed away from the expected, though.
After shoveling the ball to Jenkins, Arcidiacono saw his assessment result in prosperity. Jenkins knocked down the triple, and 'Nova celebrated like it was 1985.
Arcidiacono wrapped up his resume with a 116-27 record at Villanova, along with becoming the first player in program history to record at least 1,500 points and 500 assists. He excelled at picking his moments to score throughout each half and displayed unselfishness otherwise. Plus, freshman Jalen Brunson, his backcourt-mate, could flourish next season after learning from the resilient veteran, who wasn't afraid to back down an opponent in the post, either.
Although his draft stock doesn't appear too high at the moment, ranking 81st among his fellow seniors on Draft Express, Arcidiacono entrenched himself as a legend of Northwest Philadelphia.
Still feeling appreciative? The guard is still accepting thank-you letters.