PHILADELPHIA — Cam Whitmore touched a basketball only a handful of times more than 7 weeks since of a broken thumb that delayed the start of his career that now seemed established as a brief a single at Villanova.
As soon as he obtained his shot, Whitmore applied his dimension and the physical expertise that manufactured him a single of the prime recruits out of higher school to spark a Wildcats group in sore need of his intangibles.
“Honestly, I’m stunned,” coach Kyle Neptune claimed. “Regular human beings, they would have been just wholly discombobulated.”
Whitmore experienced 7 points, 3 rebounds and 3 steals above 20 minutes in his debut and Caleb Daniels scored 22 factors to guide Villanova to a 70-66 gain more than Oklahoma on Saturday in the initially activity with previous Wildcats coach Jay Wright in the broadcast booth.
The intriguing cocktail of Whitmore’s debut, Villanova’s slow get started, Wright on hand as a broadcaster and the streaking Sooners in city made this university basketball’s greatest attraction of the working day.
Wright wore a headset on the CBS broadcast for both of those his broadcast debut and the first collegiate match for Whitmore, arguably his most prized recruit more than a Hall of Fame coaching vocation. Wright in no way coached Whitmore adhering to his amazing resignation in April just after he gained two countrywide championships and took the Wildcats to the Closing 4 past year.
Wright yielded the application to Neptune — his longtime assistant who returned to realize success him immediately after a person 12 months at Fordham — and the Wildcats (3-5) stumbled early. They experienced missing 4 straight moving into Saturday and have been off to their worst seven-sport begin given that 1991.
Villanova could have made use of Whitmore. He was a 2022 McDonald’s All American and the Maryland Gatorade Participant of the Year and could turn out to be the program’s to start with one particular-and-finished participant given that Tim Thomas in 1997. Wright crafted a nationwide electric power in the Philadelphia suburbs with out a single participant at any time bolting for the NBA after a person year. Most stayed for three or 4, and Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges are among the the scores of players who reaped the positive aspects of collegiate achievement and NBA riches. Both of those gamers also graduated.
Whitmore missed the start out of the period after undergoing surgical procedure on a damaged ideal thumb suffered in an early Oct exercise.
“I have been itching [to go] due to the fact the day I got damage,” Whitmore reported.
The 6-foot-7, 232-pound ahead had the crowd stirring from the instant he sat at the scorer’s table to verify in early in the first half.
His thumb taped, Whitmore obtained a rousing ovation when he checked in at 14:18, and a action-back 3 for his 1st occupation bucket had the crowd of 17,079 heading wild. Whitmore flashed his electricity and pace late in the half. He dribbled beyond the arc, skipped past two defenders and bump-and-blew previous Jacob Groves for a twisting still left-handed layup.
“That was really like from Nova Nation,” Whitmore explained of the ovation. “Due to the fact the commencing, they have been setting up me up.”
Whitmore’s delayed start has not influenced his draft inventory. ESPN has him detailed as the sixth-greatest available draft prospect.
Whitmore shook off mild suffering in the thumb and played like a potential star at the house of the Philadelphia 76ers, hunting like someone who could get employed to NBA arenas in a hurry.
“I am in school now, so I am concerned about school now,” he explained. “Try to get a championship.”
Wright was again to his GQ Jay model in a go well with following he shifted to everyday wear in the course of the pandemic. The 60-12 months-previous Wright built a cameo visual appearance on the broadcast and flawlessly identified as the Wildcats “they” or “them.” Wright will make his debut as a activity analyst Wednesday for the Penn-Villanova sport on CBS Athletics Community.
The Sooners, who saw their six-activity successful streak stop, designed an early 11-stage direct and were being a handful all game until eventually the Wildcats got hot down the extend. Brandon Slater drove the paint for a bucket and a 62-61 Villanova direct, and Daniels went inside for a difficult basket for a 3-stage direct.
Oklahoma’s Jalen Hill missed one of two free throws with 1:18 still left, and Daniels hit a 3 to seal the gain.
“Daniels just will make you pay back. I thought Daniels just designed some veteran performs,” Oklahoma coach Porter Moser mentioned.
The Wildcats can only hope the initially earn with Whitmore receives them back again on the path toward March achievement.