Villanova’s national champions received more honors Friday night with players Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges and coach Jay Wright collecting trophies at the College Basketball Awards Show presentation in Los Angeles.
Brunson, already named player of the year by various organizations — including the Associated Press, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and the Sporting News — added the Wooden Award as the nation’s best player. Brunson also collected the Bob Cousy point guard of the year award.
Brunson became the first Villanova player to win the Wooden Award, presented by the Los Angeles Athletic Club, and the first to win the trophy and be part of a national championship team since Anthony Davis of Kentucky in 2012.
“There have been so many great players that have come through Villanova, great coaches as well,” Brunson said on ESPN, which televised the awards. “To be the first Villanova player to win this gives me a lot of pride, and I’ll cherish this forever.”
Bridges, the former Great Valley High School star who was second to Brunson in scoring on the team, received the Julius Erving Award as the nation’s best small forward. Erving, the former 76er, presented Bridges with his award.
Bridges is the second Villanova player to win the Julius Erving Award in as many years. Josh Hart was presented with the trophy in 2017.
Wright, who led Villanova to its second national championship in the last three years and became the program’s all-time leader in career victories, was named winner of the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award in honor of the former UCLA coach.
“I’m not sure I’ve got my arms around that, honestly,” Wright said Thursday of the award following the Center City parade honoring the Wildcats. “Just to be connected with John Wooden in any way is such a thrill. When I heard about it, when they called me, I was really astounded.”
According to the Wooden Award steering committee, the award honors a coach based on character, success on the court, graduation rate of student athletes in their basketball program, coaching philosophy and identification with the goals of the late John Wooden.