every game. After every game. Jay Wright tweeted congratulations to the opponent, the coach and the program. Win or lose.
Wright adapted to current standards.
But he never changed.
He has always been and will continue to be all class.
Wright surprised the college basketball world on Wednesday by informing his Villanova team that he would retire as head coach. Fordham’s Kyle Neptune, a former assistant, will take on a program that has been seen as one of the standards in the sport.
Wright won two national titles in 2016 and 2018, went to the Final Four in 2009 and again earlier this month for his fourth trip. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame last year and was an assistant to the gold medal-winning Olympic men’s basketball team last summer.
STORY: Villanova College Basketball Championships: Full Story
“Over the last 21 seasons, I’ve had the opportunity to live a professional dream as Villanova’s coach,” Wright said in a tweet sent Wednesday night from his account. “Patty and I were blessed to work with amazing and talented young people who allowed us to train them and brought us unparalleled joy. We cannot overstate our gratitude to the players, coaches and administrators who have been with us on this path. It has been an honor and a privilege to work at Villanova, especially under Father Peter and Mark Jackson (Nova’s athletic director).
— Jay Wright (@VUCoachJWright) April 21, 2022
Wright continued, “Now, though, it’s time for us to enter a new era of Villanova basketball. After 35 years as a coach, I am proud and excited to hand over the reins to Villanova’s next coach. I am excited to continue to be a part of Villanova and look forward to working with Peter, Mark and the rest of the leadership team. Once Wildcat, Always Wildcat.”
Wright switched from well-tailored suits to casual wear during the pandemic, like his peers, but once again he never altered the way he presented himself.
“Jay Wright is as good a coach as our sport,” said Hall of Fame coach Bill Self of Kansas, whose Jayhawks beat Villanova in the national semifinals before beating North Carolina for the national title earlier this month in New Orleans. “All of his peers admire and respect how his teams play and compete and how he runs his program. He’s total class.”
Wright coached for 21 seasons at Villanova, winning eight Big East regular season titles and five Big East tournament titles, as well as being named Naismith Coach of the Year twice.
His two national titles were completely different. The first in 2016 was won at the sport’s biggest buzzer when Kris Jenkins defeated North Carolina on a 3-pointer after Marcus Paige tied the game on his own 3-point shot.
“I love Jay Wright,” said former North Carolina coach Roy Williams, also a member of the Hall of Fame. “I admired him a lot. He is one of the true giants of our game and our profession. I believe Jay did everything first class and with integrity. He worked his ass off. He was a great recruiter and ambassador for his university. He was great for college basketball.”
WRIGHT’S LEGACY: Villanova’s second title in three years asserts blue-blood status
Williams said that when Jenkins took that shot, he made a point of standing and waiting for Wright to congratulate him. He said it was one of his saddest moments as a coach, but he was happy to see Jay Wright win his first title.
Nova won the 2018 title with a resounding victory over Michigan after dominating Kansas in the semifinals.
Wright’s show has continued to develop stars throughout his career, including Kyle Lowry, Josh Hart, Ryan Arcidiancono, Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges and Donte DiVincenzo, among many.
“Coach Wright’s true legacy will not be his championships,” said former assistant Baker Dunleavy, current Quinnipiac head coach. “His legacy of his is the set of values he instilled in his coaches and players. This is obvious from watching a Villanova game and, more importantly, getting to know a Villanova player. For him, this is the most significant mark he could leave. We are all proud to be associated with him.”
Wright also ensured that the Big Five never disappeared in the basketball-loving city of Philadelphia. Villanova can dominate the series, dictate whether it still exists, and yet Wright was loved by his rivals.
“Villanova and Jay Wright are synonymous with excellence,” said former Saint Joseph coach Phil Martelli, now an assistant from Michigan. “Jay is the perfect combination of coaching, recruiting and representing his school. The game and the profession are better because of Jay. He’s a true friend.”
Wright’s announcement comes the same month that Hall of Fame legend Mike Krzyzewski trained his final game on the same night at the Final Four in New Orleans.
Williams retired a year ago. It’s three Hall of Fame coaches finishing their careers at the top of their game.
“NCAA basketball will certainly miss a great coach and an even better person with the retirement of Jay Wright,” said NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt. involved in the game – creating an amazing culture in Villanova for its players I wish Jay and Patty nothing but joy and fulfillment in the next chapter of their lives.
Coach Krzyzewski, Coach Williams and Coach Wright are big losses for college basketball in just over a year. However, like the legends who learned and followed – Bob Knight, Dean Smith and Rollie Massimino – the next generation of coaches will face the challenge of advancing our great game.”
Wright, 60, will now rest and will likely be the most coveted former coach by all the television networks covering the game.
Regardless, his legacy is intact as one of the greatest coaches in modern football.
Villanova wasn’t a blue blood before Wright arrived. The Wildcats are now. All because of Wright’s master class in leadership and execution of an elite program.