Joe Cremo scored 1,469 points in three years at Albany. So when he decided to give up his final year of eligibility with the Great Danes and seek another school as a graduate transfer, he received attention from the likes of Kansas, Creighton, and Gonzaga.
One school that didn’t call right away was Villanova, and the 6-foot-4 guard thought, “Well, they’ve got [Donte] DiVincenzo, and they don’t have a need for me.”
Then the call came from Villanova, which Cremo estimated was “probably a month and change” after his recruitment process began. But what he saw and experienced from coach Jay Wright and the Cats was good enough for him to announce Tuesday that he will play his final year with the 2018 national champions.
The addition of Cremo, who will be eligible to play right away, is important for the Wildcats’ depth, given that they could lose as many as four players from last season’s team to the NBA draft.
“It was just a perfect fit,” Cremo said in a telephone interview. “There wasn’t even a question in my mind that that’s the school. Once I got on the phone with coach Wright and all the assistants and talked to them, and then I got around the players, I was like, ‘This is home.’ ”
The Wildcats already have lost consensus national player of the year Jalen Brunson and swingman Mikal Bridges, both of whom have signed with agents. DiVincenzo and forward Omari Spellman are going through the draft process without hiring an agent.
All four players will participate in next week’s NBA draft combine in Chicago. DiVincenzo, the most outstanding player of the Final Four, and Spellman must decide by May 30 whether they want to return to Villanova or enter the draft.
Cremo, who averaged a team-high 17.8 points per game, fourth in America East, spent three days at Villanova last week and played pickup ball against his new teammates.
“As soon as I stepped on campus, it felt like a family,” he said. “Coach Wright and those guys spent so much time with me, I just felt they were really bought in. All the guys, they made me seem like one of their brothers. It’s like family, and those guys play their hearts out for each other. I could just tell that in pickup.”
Cremo is an excellent three-point shooter, leading America East from beyond the arc (45.8 percent) and ranking fourth in threes made (2.4 per game). He also finished fifth in assists (3.8 per game) and free-throw percentage (81.9 percent).
He leaves a team that posted its fourth consecutive season of 20-plus wins and joins a unit that has won two national championships in three years. He calls it “a big step.”
“I know at Villanova, I’m surrounding myself with the right people and the people that are about the right things in life – not just basketball, but life in general,” Cremo said. “When I have that support system and everybody’s bought in on both sides, then it’ll be easier for me to go out there and compete.”