Jay Wright (basketball)

Jerold Taylor "Jay" Wright Jr. (born December 24, 1961) is a Hall of Fame American college basketball coach. He is currently the men's head coach at Villanova University, a position he has held since 2001. He previously served as head coach at Hofstra University (1994–2001), leading the program to NCAA Tournament appearances in both 2000 and 2001.

Jay Wright
Jay Wright 140507-D-HU462-384 (cropped).jpg
Current position
TitleHead coach
ConferenceBig East
Record494–192 (.720)
Biographical details
Born (1961-12-24) December 24, 1961 (age 59)
Churchville, Pennsylvania
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1984–1986Rochester (assistant)
1986–1987Drexel (assistant)
1987–1992Villanova (assistant)
1992–1994UNLV (assistant)
Head coaching record
Overall616–276 (.691)
Tournaments30–14 (NCAA Division I)
4–4 (NIT)
24–15 (Big East)
Accomplishments and honors
2 NCAA Division I Tournament (2016, 2018)
3 Final Four (2009, 2016, 2018)
2 America East regular season (2000, 2001)
2 America East Tournament (2000, 2001)
8 Big East regular season (2006, 20142017, 2019-2021)
4 Big East Tournament (2015, 20172019)
Naismith College Coach of the Year (2006, 2016)
NABC Coach of the Year (2006)
John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award (2018)
Big East Coach of the Year (2006, 2009, 2014–2016, 2019)
America East Coach of the Year (2000, 2001)
AP Coach of the Decade (2010s)
Medal record
Olympic Games
Assistant coach for the  United States
Gold medal – first place 2020 Tokyo Team

Wright has led the Villanova Wildcats to six Big East Conference championships and 14 NCAA Tournament appearances in his 19 seasons as head coach. Wright took Villanova to the Final Four in 2009. Wright then led Villanova to the 2016 NCAA Championship, defeating North Carolina, and the 2018 NCAA Championship, defeating Michigan. Wright is widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the NCAA,[1] and he is set to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the 2021 class later this year. [2]


Wright is a graduate of Council Rock High School North[3] in Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. During his senior season, he impressed scouts with a 69-point performance against rival Malvern Prep. He graduated from Bucknell University, in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1983, where he played on the basketball team and became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.

Coaching careerEdit

Early coaching careerEdit

Upon graduating from college, Wright got his first job as an assistant coach at Division III University of Rochester.[4] In 1986, he got his first position in Division I college basketball as an assistant coach at Drexel University. His next job came as an assistant to Rollie Massimino at Villanova, where he remained from 1987 to 1992. In 1992, he moved with Massimino to UNLV, where he remained until 1994.


In 1994, Wright was named head coach at Hofstra University, which had struggled through most of the 1980s and early '90s. Under Wright, the program slowly and steadily improved, and by 1999 the Pride were a premier team in the America East Conference. They won the conference championship in 2000 and 2001, and from 1999 to 2001, went 72–22, including two NCAA tournament appearances. Wright was named America East Coach of the Year in 1999–2000 and 2000–01. He was also tabbed Eastern Basketball's Coach of the Year in 1999–2000.

Wright took the Pride to the Postseason three times:

  • 1999 NIT: Hofstra was defeated by Rutgers University 68–45 in the first round
  • 2000 NCAA Tournament: As a #14 seed, Hofstra lost to Oklahoma State University 86–66 in the first round.
  • 2001 NCAA Tournament: As a #13 seed, Hofstra was defeated in the first round 61–48 by UCLA.


2001–2004 seasons: Two NIT appearancesEdit

On March 27, 2001, Wright was named head coach at Villanova, becoming the eighth coach in the 81-year history of the program. Wright inherited a mediocre team from previous coach Steve Lappas, and in Wright's first season, they made the NIT. In 2002, Wright was able to secure one of the top-rated recruiting classes in the country, led by McDonald's All-American center Jason Fraser. However, the Wildcats had a mediocre 2002–03 season, which was marred by a phone card abuse scandal that eventually resulted in suspensions to over half the roster. The Wildcats again made the NIT but did not advance far. The 2003–04 season saw more playing time for the talented young players from the previous recruiting class, but it also resulted in a mediocre season and another NIT appearance. Villanova advanced as far as the quarterfinals in the NIT, doing so in 2002 and 2004.

2004–05: Sweet SixteenEdit

In the 2004–05 season, Wright's Wildcats enjoyed a breakout campaign thanks to the emergence of forward Curtis Sumpter and guards Allen Ray and Randy Foye. Villanova finished 22–7 in a year that included upset wins over No. 2 Kansas and No. 3 Boston College. They were rewarded with a fifth seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats' first appearance in the tournament since 1999. Villanova defeated New Mexico and Florida to advance to the sweet 16. However, their tournament run came to an end next round after a narrow loss to North Carolina, the No. 1 seed (and eventual champion). Villanova was ranked 19th in the final Associated Press poll, their first such appearance in eight years.

2005–06: Elite EightEdit

The 2005–06 season saw the Wildcats ranked in the preseason top four of both major polls, thanks to the return of most players from the previous season. Led by seniors Allan Ray and Randy Foye, and explosive sophomore Kyle Lowry, the Wildcats lived up to the hype and finished with a 25–4 regular season record, including a 14–2 record in the Big East regular season, which tied them with University of Connecticut for first place in the conference.

In the 2006 NCAA Tournament, Wright's experienced team earned a No. 1 seed for the first time in school history and posted victories over Monmouth in the first round and Arizona in the second. Wright's squad then narrowly edged Boston College to advance to the Elite 8 for the first time since 1988. However, the Wildcats run ended there, as they lost to eventual champion Florida. This marked the second consecutive year in which Wright's Wildcats were eliminated by the eventual national champion.

For his performance in the 2005–06 season, Wright received national coach of the year honors from CBS/Chevrolet; the Naismith Awards; and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). He was also named the Big East Coach of the Year.

2006–07: Second RoundEdit

The 2006–07 squad had to replace three starters, but thanks in part to the healthy return of Curtis Sumpter, who had missed the previous season with an ACL injury, and McDonald's All-American Scottie Reynolds, the Wildcats made it back to the NCAA tournament for the third straight season. With a 22–10 record, they were seeded ninth but lost to Kentucky in the second round.

In the 2007 offseason, Wright once again came up with a highly rated recruiting class, this time led by McDonald's All-American Corey Stokes and Jordan Brand All-American Corey Fisher.

2007–08: Sweet SixteenEdit

The 2007–08 season saw Villanova struggle at times, including a five-game losing streak in the middle of the season. Wright and the Wildcats were able to rebound to get a 12 seed (the final at-large seed) in the NCAA Tournament. They upset fifth-seeded Clemson in round one, and beat Siena in round two to advance to their third Sweet 16 in four years. The team once again lost to the eventual champs, which this time was the Kansas Jayhawks.

2008–09: Final FourEdit

The 2008–09 team, led by senior Dante Cunningham, junior Scottie Reynolds and breakout sixth man Corey Fisher, streaked to a fourth-place finish in the Big East, and a double bye in the conference tournament. The third-seeded Wildcats overcame a double-digit halftime deficit to underdog American to avoid a first-round upset in the NCAA Tournament. The team then defeated sixth-seeded UCLA by twenty points to make the program's fourth Sweet Sixteen in five years. In its Sweet Sixteen matchup against Duke, the Wildcats used timely perimeter defense to score a 23-point victory and a trip to the Elite Eight. In a back-and-forth Elite Eight game with then-conference rival Pitt, Reynolds came up big with a game-winning shot to put Villanova back in the Final Four for the first time since their national championship run in 1985. Villanova then fell to North Carolina, the eventual champions, in the National Semifinals at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan by a score of 83–69.[5]

2009–10: Second Round UpsetEdit

For the 2009–10 season, Wright brought in a recruiting class in the top five of the national rankings.[6] The class was highlighted by point guard Maalik Wayns (Philadelphia/Roman Catholic), forwards Isaiah Armwood (Rockville, Md./Montrose Christian School) and Mouphtaou Yarou (Nattingou, Benin; also attending the same Montrose Christian School) and guard Dominic Cheek (Jersey City, NJ / St. Anthony's). Taylor King, a former McDonald's All-American and Duke transfer, also joined the rotation, after redshirting the '08–'09 season. The Wildcats earned a two seed in the NCAA tournament, but after a rocky start in the tournament, highlighted by Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher being benched to start the game, fell in the second round of play to Saint Mary's.

2010–11: First RoundEdit

The Wildcats got off to a 16–1 start, and were ranked as high as sixth in the nation. However, they went 5–11 the rest of the way, including six straight losses to finish the season. The final two losses were particularly tough, as Villanova lost to South Florida in the Big East tournament before falling to George Mason in the Round of 64 in the NCAA tournament.

2011–12: Losing SeasonEdit

Faced with a young team after the departures of seniors Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes, the Wildcats endured their worst season under Wright, finishing 13–19. To date, it's the only season in the Wright era where they have not competed in any postseason tournaments. They did manage a victory in the opening round of the Big East Tournament, defeating Rutgers 70–49, before falling to South Florida for the second consecutive season.

2012–13: Return to the TournamentEdit

Villanova's recent struggles prompted some to speculate that Wright's job was in danger. However, with the help of sophomores Darrun Hilliard and JayVaughn Pinkston, as well as freshmen Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu, the Wildcats returned to respectability, winning 20 games and returning to the NCAA Tournament. Though they fell to North Carolina in the Round of 64, the Wildcats picked up some signature wins, defeating #5 Louisville and #3 Syracuse in the span of a week. They also ended the regular season with wins over #17 Marquette and #5 Georgetown.

2013–14: Second Round UpsetEdit

In the first season of the current Big East Conference, formed after Villanova and six other schools broke away from the original Big East Conference, Villanova was the #2 seed in the East and lost in the second round to Connecticut, the #7 seed and eventual national champion.

2014–15: Second Round UpsetEdit

Villanova was the #1 seed in the East and lost in the second round to North Carolina State, the #8 seed.

2015–16: National ChampionsEdit

Villanova earned a #2 seed in the South Region, defeating UNC Asheville, Iowa, Miami and Kansas to advance to the Final Four for the first time since 2009. In the national semifinal, Villanova defeated Oklahoma 95–51, the largest margin of victory in Final Four history. The Wildcats then proceeded to defeat North Carolina in the national title game, 77–74, on a 3-point shot by Kris Jenkins as time expired, earning Wright his first championship.

In addition to the record shattering 44-point defeat of Oklahoma in the Final Four, the 2016 championship run included numerous other notable achievements. Villanova was the first school without an FBS football program to win the NCAA men's title since Villanova's own championship in 1985. They were also the first team in 31 years (again, since the 1985 Villanova team) to dispatch four straight AP top 10 teams (Miami, Kansas, Oklahoma and North Carolina) in their run, and 5 total AP ranked teams (Iowa, in addition to the previously mentioned teams). They were also the only team, again since the 1985 Villanova championship squad, to beat four straight top 3 seeds on their championship run: two 1 seeds (Kansas and North Carolina), one 2 seed (Oklahoma) and one 3 seed (Miami). Villanova's performance included two of the most offensively efficient games ever recorded since the analytics era began in 2002, tallying 1.56 and 1.51 points per possession against 3-seed Miami and 2-seed Oklahoma, respectively.[7] Villanova's average margin of victory for the tournament was nearly 21 points per game, and the only teams they defeated by less than 19 points were Kansas and North Carolina (the overall first and second seeded teams in the tournament, whom they beat by 5 and 3 points, respectively). It has been called perhaps the most dominant tournament championship run of all time, and the most dominant of the analytics era by a wide margin.[8]

2016–17: Second Round UpsetEdit

Villanova was the #1 seed in the East and lost in the second round to Wisconsin, the #8 seed.

2017–18: National ChampionsEdit

Shortly before the start of the 2017–18 season, Wright was named the recipient of the 2018 Legends of Coaching Award, part of the annual John R. Wooden Award program.[9] Villanova earned a #1 seed in the East Region, defeating Radford, Alabama, West Virginia, and Texas Tech to advance to the Final Four for the second time in three years. In the National Semifinal, Villanova defeated Kansas 95–79. The Wildcats then proceeded to defeat Michigan in the National Championship Game, 79–62 to give Wright his second championship in three years. Assistant head coach Ashley Howard left Villanova on April 8, 2018 to become the head coach at La Salle University, a Philadelphia Big 5 rival.

2018–19: Second Round exitEdit

Wright faced a difficult task after his second national title. Last year's departures included Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo, Omari Spellman, and Jalen Brunson, who were each taken in the 2018 NBA Draft. As a result, Wright was left with a young, inexperienced squad entering the season. Villanova stood at #8 in the preseason rankings, but they were crushed by Michigan in a title game rematch in their third game of the season. They later fell to Furman in overtime at home, dropping them from the Top 25 entirely. After losing to top-ranked Kansas in December, Villanova won 11 in a row and returned to the national rankings. A February win over #10 Marquette allowed them to clinch the Big East regular season title. They would then go on to defeat Providence, Xavier, and Seton Hall to win their third consecutive Big East Tournament, becoming the first team to do so. Wright earned his sixth Big East Coach of the Year Award for his efforts. The Wildcats finished 26–10 and earned a sixth seed in the NCAA Tournament. They would defeat 11th-seeded St. Mary's in the Round of 64 by 4, before falling to Purdue 87–61.

2019–20: Shared Big East TitleEdit

The Wildcats ended their season with a 24–7 record. Villanova's 13–5 record in Big East play allowed them to clinch a share of the conference's regular season title, tying with Creighton and Seton Hall. The Wildcats were seeded second in the Big East Tournament, but the tournament was cancelled early due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Oddly, the Big East Tournament was the last conference tournament to be cancelled, which resulted in games being played despite other conferences canceling their games.[10]

2020-21: Back to the Sweet 16Edit

Despite losing sophomore Saddiq Bey to the first round of the NBA Draft, Wright and the Wildcats were ranked third in the opening AP poll to start the season. Villanova got off to an 8-1 start (which included wins over No. 18 Arizona State and No. 17 Texas) but was forced to temporarily shut down when Wright and several other members of the program tested positive for COVID-19.[11] With an 11-4 conference record, the Wildcats clinched at least a share of the regular season title for the third consecutive season, clinching it with a win over Creighton on March 3. However, Villanova was ousted in the quarterfinal round of the conference tournament in an upset loss to eventual champion Georgetown after losing co-Big East Player of the Year Collin Gillespie (sharing with teammate Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Sandro Mamukelashvili of Seton Hall) to an injury. Many felt that, without Gillespie, the Wildcats would be subjected to a quick exit at the NCAA Tournament, where they were seeded fifth in the South region. Villanova instead topped Winthrop and North Texas to return to the Sweet 16. There, Villanova held a first half lead against top-seeded Baylor, but eventually fell in a 62-51 final.

Head coaching recordEdit

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Hofstra Flying Dutchmen (America East Conference) (1994–2001)
1994–95 Hofstra 10–18 5–11 9th
1995–96 Hofstra 9–18 5–12 T–7th
1996–97 Hofstra 12–15 9–9 4th
1997–98 Hofstra 19–12 11–7 T–3rd
1998–99 Hofstra 22–10 14–4 3rd NIT First Round
1999–00 Hofstra 24–7 16–2 1st NCAA Division I First Round
2000–01 Hofstra 26–5 16–2 1st NCAA Division I First Round
Hofstra: 122–85 (.589) 76–47 (.618)
Villanova Wildcats (Big East Conference[a]) (2001–present)
2001–02 Villanova 19–13 7–9 5th NIT Quarterfinal
2002–03 Villanova 15–16 8–8 T–3rd NIT First Round
2003–04 Villanova 18–17 6–10 11th NIT Quarterfinal
2004–05 Villanova 24–8 11–5 T–3rd NCAA Division I Sweet 16
2005–06 Villanova 28–5 14–2 T–1st NCAA Division I Elite Eight
2006–07 Villanova 22–11 9–7 7th NCAA Division I Round of 64
2007–08 Villanova 22–13 9–9 T–8th NCAA Division I Sweet 16
2008–09 Villanova 30–8 13–5 4th NCAA Division I Final Four
2009–10 Villanova 25–8 13–5 T–2nd NCAA Division I Round of 32
2010–11 Villanova 21–12 9–9 T–9th NCAA Division I Round of 64
2011–12 Villanova 13–19 5–13 T–13th
2012–13 Villanova 20–14 10–8 T–7th NCAA Division I Round of 64
2013–14 Villanova 29–5 16–2 1st NCAA Division I Round of 32
2014–15 Villanova 33–3 16–2 1st NCAA Division I Round of 32
2015–16 Villanova 35–5 16–2 1st NCAA Division I Champion
2016–17 Villanova 32–4 15–3 1st NCAA Division I Round of 32
2017–18 Villanova 36–4 14–4 2nd NCAA Division I Champion
2018–19 Villanova 26–10 13–5 1st NCAA Division I Round of 32
2019–20 Villanova 24–7 13–5 T-1st NCAA Division I Canceled*
2020–21 Villanova 18–7 11–4 1st NCAA Division I Sweet 16
2021–22 Villanova 4–2
Villanova: 494–192 (.720) 225–114 (.664)
Total: 616–276 (.691)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

  1. ^ The Big East Conference, as it exists today, was formed in 2013, following the three-way split of the original Big East Conference that also saw the departure of one group of teams to the Atlantic Coast Conference and the formation of the American Athletic Conference, consisting of the members of the original Big East that sponsored FBS football. However, the current Big East maintains the competitive history of the original Big East in all of the sports it sponsors.

International coaching careerEdit

Wright has coached, as a head coach or assistant coach, basketball teams representing the United States three times in international competitions. He led Team USA to a gold medal at the 2005 World University Games as head coach, and was an assistant coach in the 2000 World Championship for Young Men Qualifying Tournament.[12] Wright coached the American team in the 2007 Pan Am Games to a fifth-place finish, with a 3–2 record.

Personal lifeEdit

Wright is married to Patrica Wright (née Reilly). The couple has one daughter, Reilly, and two sons, Taylor and Colin.

Wright is a two-time winner of The Runway to the Fashionable Four, an award given by Tim Capstraw to the best-dressed coach in college basketball from 1998 until 2002.[13]


  1. ^ "Villanova's Jay Wright Becomes 8th Active Men's Basketball Coach Inducted into Naismith Hall of Fame". Forbes.
  2. ^ "Wright to be Inducted into Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame".
  3. ^ "Official Villanova University Bio". Archived from the original on February 28, 2018. Retrieved March 26, 2011.
  4. ^ Schonbrun, Zach (March 22, 2014). "Trip Upstate Takes Coach Back to Roots: Villanova's Jay Wright Relives Rochester Years". New York Times.
  5. ^ "North Carolina proves too much for Villanova in Final Four". ESPN.com. April 4, 2009. Retrieved April 3, 2020.
  6. ^ "2009 Scout.com College Basketball Team Recruiting Rankings". Scout.com. Archived from the original on May 15, 2011. Retrieved April 3, 2020.
  7. ^ Gasaway, John (May 5, 2016). "Best Offensive Performances". ESPN.
  8. ^ Winn, Luke. "The Five Most Dominant Tournament Runs of the Analyics Era". SI.com.
  9. ^ "Jay Wright of Villanova Named 2018 John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Recipient" (Press release). Los Angeles Athletic Club. October 10, 2017. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  10. ^ Braziller, Zach (March 12, 2020). "Big East Tournament canceled at halftime of St. John's-Creighton". New York Post. Retrieved April 3, 2020.
  11. ^ "Wright: 'I could tell this one was crushing to them'". January 4, 2021.
  12. ^ "Villanova University Mentor Jay Wright Chosen Head Coach Of 2007 USA Men's Pan American Games Team". USA Basketball. Archived from the original on December 5, 2010. Retrieved July 18, 2007.
  13. ^ "Runway to the Fashionable Four". collegeinsider.com. Retrieved March 23, 2009.

External linksEdit