Sunday, July 3, 2022

Retired Villanova coach Jay Wright doesn’t shut down possibility of coaching in the NBA

Just a week after announcing his surprise retirement from coaching the Villanova men’s basketball team, Jay Wright made some comments hinting at the possibility of him coaching the NBA at some point in the future. 

During an appearance on the ESPN Radio show “Keyshawn, JWill & Max,” Wright said that “I’d be lying” if he said he hasn’t thought about coaching at the professional level. However, while he’s thought about the possibility of coaching in the NBA, he’s not thinking about it right now. 

“Not right now. That was something I always thought about,” Wright said. “My experience with the Olympics kind of scratched that itch. … I kind of feel like I did it a little bit. And I loved coaching those guys.”

Wright was on Gregg Popovich’s coaching staff for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics when Team USA took home its fourth-straight gold medal. He’s been mentioned before as a possible candidate for NBA-level coaching jobs before, but he’s never taken the leap. When his retirement was announced last week after 21 seasons coaching Villanova, it was reported that Wright wasn’t thinking about coaching in the NBA, but that doesn’t mean it’s a definitive no forever. 

“Right now I definitely need a break,” Wright said. “Right now I’m looking forward to this [special assistant] position at Villanova. But honestly, down the road, I’d be lying — I don’t know what I’m going to feel like.”

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Though Wright hasn’t said it publicly, it’s been reported that he’s privately “shared frustrations” regarding some of the changes to the way college basketball operates, primarily the transfer portal and name, image and likeness rules. Those added changes have altered how coaches recruit players, and Wright has reportedly felt some “burnout” from the high expectations that come with coaching at a power-conference school. 

“I know I made the right decision, because I don’t think going into next year I’d be able to do the things I need to do to keep this program at a high level,” Wright said. “But I’m going to take this year and really throw myself into this position at Villanova, and then see what’s out there. I just didn’t want to be the coach at Villanova and not be 100 percent in.”

For the time being it sounds like Wright is content in not looking for another coaching job, but if he ever were to throw his hat into the ring for an NBA job, he’d be a highly-coveted coach. With two national titles to his name, in addition to four Final Four appearances — the latest of which came this past season — Wright’s a highly respected coach in the basketball world. He’s already been enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and was named the Naismith Coach of the Year back in 2006, so the only thing left on his resume would be trying his hand at coaching in the NBA. 

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