Charlie Villanueva is in a great position regarding his future as a basketball player. On one hand, he has the ability to be a major impact player next season at Illinois. On the other hand, Villanueva, a 6-10 skilled forward from Blair Academy in New Jersey, has many NBA scouts taking a serious look at him for a possible jump to the NBA.
On the record, Villanueva has stated he plans on first focusing on the college part of his career. He has indicated if he was guaranteed a shot to be a lottery pick he would jump. But there are no guarantees as many previous high school players have found out in past NBA drafts.
There are certain aspects though of Villanueva's game that make him an attractive target of the NBA. A. He is big. B. He is a big man who is skilled. C. He is athletic too.
So if you take into account the above three positives in Villanueva's situation, then you have to say the odds are pretty good he will be jumping to the NBA if he has a great senior year at Blair.
And the scouts are around. RivalsHoops.com saw it up close and in person last Sunday at Hofstra when an NBA scout spoke to Charlie and handed him a business card. There are many scouts RivalsHoops.com has spoken to over the past several months who share a very favorable opinion on Villanueva. But having a great opinion on a player right now doesn't necessarily mean the NBA team will select that particular player.
It's early right now. It would be smart for any player like Villanueva to take a deep breath and focus on his high school year and take care of the degree.
On the basketball side, Villanueva is going to have to show he has consistent perimeter skills to be a lottery pick. Yes, a year or two on the college level would certainly help him achieve that goal. So it is going to be a difficult decision for Villanueva come next Spring.
Villanueva, a New York City native, chose Illinois over Indiana, Seton Hall, and Villanova. There is some question on whether Charlie will sign a letter of intent. But whether he signs a LOI now or in the spring won't change what might happen with his thoughts about jumping to the NBA. He can jump whether he signs a letter with Illinois or not.
Villanueva is also qualified academically. He recently achieved a qualifying test score. Villanueva worked very hard in this area. So credit has to be given to Charlie for keeping all of his options open. But from what we hear in the New York City pipeline, the odds of Villanueva playing at Illinois next season are not very good.
*This is a column and an opinion by the author. His views on this subject are not necessarily the feelings of any other person associated with Rivals.com, RivalsHoops.com or any site on this network.