The first Associated Press preseason Top 25 men's basketball poll was released today.
The Villanova Wildcats came in at No. 6, and the Pittsburgh Panthers, ranked No. 5, were the only Big East team to be ranked ahead of them.
Villanova returns eight players from last year's team that finished 24-6 overall and 13-5 in the Big East last year. The team faltered in the NCAA Tournament, losing in the second round to the No. 10 Saint Mary's Gaels.
The Wildcats lost guard/forward Reggie Redding to graduation, forward Taylor King to transfer and star guard Scottie Reynolds to graduation as well.
Stepping in for Reynolds will be senior guard Corey Fisher. Fisher was a prized recruit in 'Nova's 2007 class, a 5-star recruit and the No. 5-ranked point guard in his class according to Rivals.com. The Wildcats expected big things out of the Brooklyn native.
Fisher was used as a spark off the bench in his freshman season and didn't disappoint, as he averaged 9.7 PPG, 2.7 APG and 1.1 SPG.
Fisher continued to do more of the same in the 2008-09 season and upped his averages across the board (10.8 PPG, 2.8 APG and 1.2 SPG) and had a key role in the Wildcats' run to the Final Four that season.
Last year Fisher continued to show improvement, averaging 13.3 PPG, 3.9 APG and 1.3 SPG. All three years he got to watch the development and learn from guard Scottie Reynolds (named a consensus first team All-American in 2009-10).
At the end of a practice Villanova held in New York, spectators came over to Wright and talked to him about how amazed they were by Corey's transformation. He had taken over the practice and truly ran the team as a leader.
This isn't the end for Fisher, however; he knows that he needs to make sure this leadership carries over into the season.
Fisher will have an immense amount of talent surrounding him this year: seniors Corey Stokes and Antonio Pena, sophomores Dominic Cheek and Mouphtaou Yarou plus freshman JayVaughn Pinkston.
If he can become the leader that he's shown in the preseason and that Jay Wright has been trying to mold him into for three years, then the Wildcats may be able to make another Final Four trip in 2011.
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