VILLANOVA, Pa. — Villanova coach Jay Wright enjoys an abundance of riches with two terrific point guards in senior Ryan Arcidiacono sharing backcourt responsibilities with freshman Jalen Brunson. They are a poised pairing that led the Wildcats to the Final Four and an NCAA Tournament national semifinal date with Oklahoma Saturday in Houston.
But they aren’t the only great point guards Wright has coached. When he was at Hofstra from 1994-2001, Wright might have had his most talented point guard ever in Speedy Claxton, who led the Pride to the first of two straight NCAA berths as a senior in 2000 before a seven-season NBA career.
Comparing Claxton and Arcidiacono, Wright said, “They’re completely different personalities. Speedy Claxton never said a word to anybody. He always led by example. He was the most talented guy, which had a great impact. We’d always put the ball in his hands to make the decisions in tough situations.
“But Arch is much more vocal as a leader and much more outgoing. Speedy and I were very close. I knew what I would tell him would get done on the court, but he wouldn’t tell anybody else.”
Wright said the basketball IQ of both Claxton and Arcidiacono is “off the charts.” Interestingly Wright truly valued Claxton’s opinion of potential recruits.
“If he told me a guy could play, I believed him and we would recruit him,” Wright said. “If I asked Speedy about a kid and he said, ‘I don’t know coach’ . . . He knew if a guy was good enough to play for us and if he would let us coach him.”