Evaluating Tony Chennault to Villanova

It was announced yesterday that Tony Chennault will be eligible immediately after transferring to Villanova. This is absolutely the right move for the NCAA, as his mother has health issues, and his brother recently passed. Chennault – who had been at Wake Forest – is from Philadelphia. He has two years of eligibility.

Now, what impact will he have on their roster?

Nova fans had become used to finishing the season in the NCAA Tournament. For the past seven years under Jay Wright they had done just that. And then last year they plummeted to 13-19 (5-13), and then found out after the season was over that their two star juniors – Dominic Cheek and Maalik Wayns – were headed for the NBA. This gutted an already thin back court. Cheek and Wayns both played 75% of the team’s minutes.

Chennault played a similar role as a sophomore for the Demon Deacons. He ran the point and played 75.5% of the minutes. The only point guards Villanova has on the roster are 6-3 sophomore Ty Johnson (combo guard) and 6-4 true freshman Ryan Arcidiacono, who is highly touted but missed most of his senior year with an injury.

A 3* recruit out of high school, Chennault played a limited role as a freshman before starting as a sophomore. And both seasons he’s struggled. Even throwing out his freshman numbers and focusing on his sophomore stats, Chennault has a lot of work to do if he’s to help out Villanova. He has no outside shot to speak of (25% 3-point shooter), struggles making 2s (43.7%) and is below average from the line (64.8%). He does draw fouls at a decent clip (4.0 per 40 minutes) but even there he was only better than one starter for Villanova. These offensive struggles diminish the allure of multiple point guard sets since Chennault really isn’t much of a threat to score. His 9.0 ppg were due to volume, as his offensive rating was poor (90.0). Defenses can sag off of him and dare him to shoot.

From a ballhandling perspective, his assist rate (20.9) was slightly behind Ty Johnson, while his turnover rate (20.1) – though poor – was much better than Johnson’s. Neither Chennault nor Johnson compare favorably with Maalik Wayns.

So what to expect from Chennault? If he’s running the team that is probably not a good sign. His ideal role would be contributing off the bench and helping to mentor Arcidiacono, who is the future (and potentially present) point guard for the Wildcats.