Jay Wright to Assistant Coach USA Men’s Select Team
The release of the roster for the 2016 USA Men’s Select Team Tuesday gave a big nod to the National Champion Villanova Wildcats — the team’s head coach Jay Wright has been selected to serve as an assistant coach to San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
Jerami Grant and Jahlil Okafor of the 76ers were listed among the 25 players who will practice with the USA National team — which will compete at the Rio Olympics — next month in Las Vegas. Spurs assistant coach Ime Udoka will also assist Popovich.
This marks a return to USA Basketball for Wright — he served as co-coach of the 2010 Select Team alongside Washington’s Lorenzo Romar. He served as head coach of the U.S. Team in 2005 at the World University Games, bringing home a gold medal, and again in 2007 at the Pan American games.
The announcement also comes on the heels of the Wildcats’ recent visit to the White House, where President Obama dubbed Coach Wright, known for his flawless courtside attire, “the George Clooney of coaches.” This distinction, along with his new position, can be added to a laundry list of recent accomplishments, chief among them clinching the National Championship against the North Carolina Tar Heels in what the President called, “an unbelievable showdown.”
Naturally, Wright’s abounding success has given rise to speculation surrounding how long he plans to continue coaching at Villanova. Less than a week passed after the championship before a rumor that Wright was being courted by the Phoenix Suns. Villanova fans rejoiced when Josh Hart, the season’s lead scorer, announced his decision to remain a Wildcat for his senior year. Should they worry about losing their beloved head coach?
Many, including Wright himself, say “no.”
In 2009 the coach was courted by the Sixers following his run to the Final Four, the first since the 1985 Championship, where the Wildcats fell to the Tar Heels (revenge is sweet). Wright reportedly turned down the offer, quelling rumors with a statement published by ESPN. “I love Villanova and it is where I want to be,” Wright said.
This time around it appears his reasons for staying put are geographical. The Churchville, Pa., native spoke to his love for Philadelphia in a Morning Show interview on 94WIP in early April. “I’m very happy here, I’m well taken care of at Villanova, I love living in Philly — my family is from here,” Wright said. “I feel so — you know in college basketball you never get to coach where you live. And when you get into college you know that, you never get to coach where you grew up.”
“To be able to do this here, in Philadelphia, to me is a dream.”
The Nova Nation will no doubt applaud this continued loyalty, along with Wright’s recent appearance at a press conference in support of “It’s On Us PA,” which combats sexual assault on college campuses. “We’re proud to be a part of this, and we’re proud to join you,” Wright told Governor Tom Wolf.
With any luck, Coach Wright’s Villanova pride and impressive record will stay where it belongs — with the Wildcats.