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Hershey big man Dylan Painter picks 'Nova

09/16/2015, 11:00am EDT
By Josh Verlin and Ari Rosenfeld

Dylan Painter (above, with Team Final this summer) will be headed to Villanova in the fall. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin) &
Ari Rosenfeld (@realA_rosenfeld)

After a roller-coaster recruiting side of a summer, Dylan Painter’s college train has finally found its station on the Main Line.

The Hershey (Pa.) big man had over 30 different schools offer him over the last year, but ultimately the lure of his childhood favorite school, Villanova, was too much to turn down.

Painter announced his commitment to head coach Jay Wright and the Wildcats on Wednesday morning, becoming the second player in Villanova’s 2016 recruiting class along with five-star St. Thomas More (Conn.) forward Omari Spellman.

“I guess it’s always been kind of my dream school, and over the last couple months, me and Coach Wright have had a great bond,” Painter told CoBL exclusively on Tuesday night. “He’s always been honest to me, just about their plan for me; they laid out a really good plan for me.

Just a year ago, Painter held only five scholarship offers, with none coming from any of the traditional power conferences.

However, after adding a couple inches to his frame and expanding his offensive skillset over the course of his junior season with Hershey, Painter hit the Nike EYBL circuit with Team Final, and high-major schools almost immediately took notice.

Over the course of the EYBL’s four sessions, he averaged 8.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game, with the latter number being good for fifth-best on the entire circuit. And the offers poured in--schools like Providence, Pittsburgh, Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Iowa all extended scholarships.

Last month, though, Painter cut his list of over 30 schools down to just eight: Villanova, North Carolina State, Xavier, Saint Joseph’s, Rhode Island, George Washington, and Penn State.

Hershey coach Paul Blackburn said that Painter was arguably one of the most-recruited student-athletes out of the middle part of the state over the last decade.

“He’s a very serious, thoughtful, bright, hard-working kid and you like seeing great things happen to kids like that,” Blackburn said. “His rapid recruitment and a place like Villanova extending an offer, giving him a chance to be a part of such a terrific program, I really couldn’t be prouder as a coach.”

Ultimately, things came down to the first high-major program to offer him a scholarship--Penn State, which did so in April--and the last, being Villanova, which offered just last month after tracking him closely all summer.

Both schools received official visits, with Painter tripping to Penn State just last weekend after going to ‘Nova the weekend before; Iowa and Xavier got official visits in June. While the Nittany Lions weren’t yet ruled out going into the weekend, Painter ultimately came away still thinking that Villanova was the place for him.

“They were definitely my top two schools. I knew beforehand that I wanted to take a visit to both of them for sure, just so I could give them both a fair chance and check them both out,” he said. “Throughout the recruiting process I had to think of what was best for me. It took me a long time to decide, but in the end I thought [Villanova] was the best.”

A 6-foot-10, 220-pound forward, Painter projects as a combo forward/center with the ability to post up and defend the rim but also step out and knock down perimeter jumpers, a skill he and Spellman share.

When he and Spellman arrive on campus next fall, they’ll add to an already strong group of bigs in Wright’s arsenal, joining current junior Kris Jenkins, sophomore Darryl Reynolds and freshman Tim Delaney, who will form the frontcourt of this year’s Wildcats along with star senior Daniel Ochefu.

Despite somewhat similar skill-sets, Painter thinks the two will become a formidable duo for ‘Nova due to their versatility.

“(Wright) said that if he can play two skilled guys that can both shoot the ‘3’-ball and play inside and outside, that would be a huge advantage because we’re both pretty big,” Painter said. “He said the only thing we both need to work on is our footwork to be able to defend some of the quicker ‘4’s; If we can get to that point, he said that we can both play.”

With two commitments now in hand, Wright has two remaining scholarships to work with in the 2016 class. Seeing as he prefers to run a guard-oriented system, expect him to target a perimeter player for one of those open spots-- the Wildcats don’t currently have an offer extended to any available backcourt recruits.

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