Jay Wright, Tapped For College Basketball TV Gig, Will Eventually 'Try' Coaching In The NBA, Rick Pitino Says

Jay Wright, Tapped For College Basketball TV Gig, Will Eventually ‘Try’ Coaching In The NBA, Rick Pitino Says

Jay Wright is coming out of retirement to call college basketball regular season games for CBS and to be in studio for the Final Four, according to the New York Post. And one Naismith Hall of Fame coach believes Wright will eventually “try” coaching in the NBA.

“I think he will try it,” Iona coach Rick Pitino, who coached both the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics in addition to winning NCAA championships at Kentucky and Louisville, told me Thursday during a Zoom call. “I don’t think Jay’s going to go from Villanova to another college. I don’t think that happens. Only someone as foolish as me does things like that.”

Wright, who led Villanova to NCAA championships in 2016 and ’18 before suddenly retiring last April, has previously been linked to the Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers. He has said he is “intrigued” by coaching in the NBA, but wouldn’t leave Villanova to do it.

“The NBA does intrigue me,” he told The Athletic in 2018. “The challenge is appealing, but it’s not worth giving up working with these guys. The whole thing is, to take a new challenge you have to give up what you have. I don’t want to give up what I have. Would I like to coach in the NBA? Yes. But I have to give this up in order to do that, and I don’t see that happening.”

In a June appearance on the College Hoops Today Podcast with Jon Rothstein, Wright said he would not consider coaching another college program.

“Definitely not. I’m committed to Villanova and working with Father Peter Donohue — our President — outside of basketball with the athletic department, with our capital campaign. These are new things for me that are exciting,” Wright told Rothstein. “I want to keep Villanova strong — I wouldn’t want to do that [coaching] at another university.”

Still, since Wright is only 60, Pitino and others believe he’ll eventually “resurface” in the NBA.

“Jay’s quite young, I was very surprised [he retired],” Pitino said. “Jay will resurface. His coaching days in my opinion, I don’t know anything, are not over. Far from over.”

He added: “Jay and I have had many conversations about the NBA since I’ve spent two tenures there. I think he’s probably intrigued by it, would like to try it.”

“He’s always mentioned,” one prominent NBA agent said in 2020. “One of these years it will happen.”

Providence coach Ed Cooley, meanwhile, said he’s “proud” of Wright for retiring at the top of his game. Kyle Neptune, 37, replaced Wright after one season at Fordham. He previously spent several years as a Wright assistant at Villanova.

“I’m proud of Jay,” Cooley said. “Not many people’s egos could walk away from that level of success with one of the best organizations in college basketball. Many of us as leaders, our egos are attached to a lot of stuff and for you to walk away on top of the mountain like that, that shows a lot about his character. That shows a lot about him seeing something that’s different…

“So 60 years old for him to walk away, a Final Four team, another national championship caliber team in tow, God bless him. I don’t know if I could’ve done that.”


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