Villanova earns well-deserved honors at Big 5 banquet

James Bell also earned Most Improved Player honors after averaging 14.4 points and 6.1 rebounds a game. — AP PHOTO/FILE

There was very little doubt about who had the best team, player and coach in the city this season.

It was Villanova. The Wildcats won the city series making them the Big 5 champions. In addition, Villanova shooting guard James Bell and head coach Jay Wright were named the Philadelphia Big 5 player and coach of the year respectively.

They will be recognized at the Big 5 banquet at the Palestra on April 14.

Joining Bell on the All-Big 5 first team are teammate JayVaughn Pinkston, La Salle’s Tyreek Duren and Langston Galloway and Halil Kanacevic of Saint Joseph’s. The second team features Dalton Pepper and Will Cummings of Temple, Ronald Roberts Jr. of Saint Joseph’s, Darrun Hilliard and Ryan Arcidianco of Villanova and Jerrell Wright of La Salle.

Wright led Villanova to a 29-5 record. The Wildcats were nationally ranked throughout most of the season. They won the Big East regular season championship and posted a 4-0 record in the Big 5. Villanova was a No. 2 seed going into the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats defeated Milwaukee and lost to Connecticut in the third round. Bell also earned Most Improved Player honors. He averaged 14.4 points and 6.1 rebounds a game.

Saint Joseph’s DeAndre’ Bembry captured Rookie of the Year honors. Bembry becomes the first Hawk to earn the top rookie award since Galloway did so in 2010-11. The 6-foot-6 freshman averaged 12.1 points and 4.5 rebounds a game while shooting 45.8 percent from the field. Bembry, who was named the Atlantic 10 Co-Rookie of the year, scored double figures in 25 games this season. He was the first Saint Joseph’s freshman to average double figures since Galloway in his rookie season.

Galloway is the Big 5’s leading scorer. He scored 602 points this season. Galloway finished his career as the second leading scorer in school history with 1,991 points and as SJU’s all-time leader in three-pointers with 334. Galloway topped the team with a career-best 17.7 points a game and 108 three-point field goals, while converting 44.3 percent from behind the arc.

One of the SJU’s most reliable players, he set the school record with 132 games started. An Atlantic 10 all-conference first team and all-championship selection in 2014, Galloway earns All-Big-5 honors for the third time.

Pepper is the Big 5’s leading free throw shooter. The 6-foot-5 senior shot 87.1 percent from the free throw line. He also had a fine year as Temple’s leading scorer. Pepper averaged 17.5 points a game.

Temple player Jimmy McDonnell rounds out the awards as the Big 5’s Scholar Athlete.

Tickets for the Big 5 banquet are $50 each and can be reserved by contacting Steve Crider at (814) 935-5015 or


Contact Staff Writer Donald Hunt at (215) 893-5719 or

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