Fordham coach Kyle Neptune has been named Villanova’s next men’s basketball coach following Jay Wright’s sudden retirement. I saw Called an impromptu team meeting Wednesday night as he notified the team of his retirement after 21 seasons with the Wildcats and also revealed that Neptune, 37, will be his successor.
An announcement was made from the school shortly thereafter. An introductory press conference has been scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m.
“As we look for a successor, we wanted a candidate who could navigate the changing landscape of collegiate athletics and keep Villanova in a position of strength – now and in the future,” athletic director Mark Jackson said in a statement. “After meeting with several exceptional candidates, we found all of these traits and more in Kyle Neptune. Kyle quickly emerged for his knowledge of basketball, an intelligent recruit and a natural ability to connect with student-athletes and coaches.”
Neptune began his coaching career in 2008 at Villanova as a video coordinator and management trainee before moving to Niagara for three years as an assistant coach. He subsequently returned to Villanova as an assistant under Wright from 2013 to 2021, becoming the Wildcats’ longest-serving assistant under Wright before leaving the gig in 2021 to take on the Fordham job. During his first and second stints with the program, Vilanova made three finals and won two national championships, all while earning the confidence of the Hall of Famer.
Here’s a closer look at Neptune and what Vilanova will have in his next coach.
Fordham run short
A little over a year ago, Neptune took over at Fordham after the dismissal of Jeff Neubauer. Neubauer spent six seasons at the helm of the program scoring five losing seasons and it seemed that Neptune, a rookie with an impressive reputation, was poised to lead the school into a new era. In the end, it was a repetitive run and a bit of a mixed bag with a 16-16 finish that put the rams in the bottom half of the A-10 standings. However, it was the first .500 or better season since Neubauer’s first in 2015-16, a notable turnaround even a year ago after finishing 2-12 in 2021-22.
Previous periods in Villanova
Neptune began his coaching career as a video coordinator and management trainee at Villanova in 2008 after a short stint as a professional overseas player. That mission continued into 2010, but it was a significant time in Villanova’s history as the Wildcats reached their fourth final in 2009 – for the first time since winning the championship in 1985 – and once again establishing themselves as a force in the Big East and beyond.
The second mission to Neptune came with a larger job title. In 2013, after three years with Niagara, he returned as an assistant on Wright’s crew as he cut his teeth as a senior coach learning under the Hall of Famer. His return culminated in what is arguably the most successful and sustainable program in the program’s history. Between 2013 and 2021, Villanova won 233 games – and even in a shortened 2020-21 season marred in part by COVID-19 – his win averaged 29.1 times per season. The school never missed an NCAA championship during that round and won two titles.
Play a career in Lehigh
Knowing the ins and outs of Villanova as an assistant should pay him dividends as he takes on the duties of the head, but also, it should be his job as a player. Near Lehigh University, about an hour away in Pennsylvania, where Neptune played college ball.
Neptune spent four seasons with the Mountain Hawks, averaging 7.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. As captain of the team in his first season in 2006-07, he averaged 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. As a junior the year before, he played 33 minutes as a start for the team in a 84-47 loss to Villanova on the wing.
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