Eric Paschall gives Villanova a versatile weapon

NCAA rules state that a transfer student in basketball must sit out a season before becoming a full-fledged playing member at his new school, so Eric Paschall took the year off to learn about Villanova and Jay Wright's philosophy for what makes a successful team.

The lessons hit home. The Wildcats were as successful as a team could be last season, winning the national championship. Now the 6-foot-7, 240-pound Paschall gets his chance to show what he has learned and help the Cats, who lost two key starters but have everyone else back.

"It just taught me a lot," Paschall said of last season Tuesday during Villanova's media day at the Pavilion. "It taught me all the little things that I needed to do to play at this level. Coach Wright is a great coach, so I feel like last year was great for me learning all the little things possible to get me ready for this year."

Paschall, who is in his sophomore year of eligibility, was Atlantic Ten rookie of the year in the 2014-15 season, averaging 15.9 points and 5.5 rebounds playing for Fordham. He decided to transfer after Tom Pecora was fired as the Rams' coach, and found a spot at Villanova.

His size and ability to play several positions will help the Wildcats in defense of their championship.

"He's got a shot to be a starter, but he's going to play starter's minutes because he's so versatile," Wright said. "He can play big. He can play on the perimeter. He can play inside. He rebounds. He can shoot threes. He's got to get some experience in the Big East and we're going to be patient with him on that. But we've got high hopes for him."

Paschall describes himself as "an aggressive player offensively and defensively."

"I try to make plays," he said. "I'm usually known as a scorer, but wherever I can fit in here, I will fit in. It doesn't matter if I'm just playing defense or if I'm just rebounding, I'll just fit in however I can."

Paschall practiced with Villanova last season and credited his teammates with making him "feel like I was definitely a part of the team." He could sit on the bench for home games but could not travel with the team. He saw his first action during the Wildcats' three-game tour of Spain in August and scored 21 points in his final contest.

Now that he'll be playing against Division I competition, Paschall wants to be a good teammate.

"I just have to try to make my teammates trust me," he said. "Sitting out last year, I haven't played with them in a game except for a few games in Spain. But it's making sure they trust me, making sure I'm not a liability on defense or offense, just understanding the concepts of defense and rebounding. I feel like that's how I could be there for the team."

Josh Hart has liked what he has seen of Paschall since last season and is excited about the possibilities this year.

"To see how versatile he is, how athletic he is, that's definitely going to help," said Hart, the team's leading scorer last season. "That definitely will help when we go small, or times when we can go big. When you have a guy that can play four different positions on the court, it just gives you that sense of confidence that you can do anything when he's out there."

jjuliano@phillynews.com

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