Villanova entered the 1996-1997 season ranked inside the Top 10 and for good reason. The Wildcats returned a pair of senior starters in Alvin Williams and Jason Lawson. Steve Lappas also signed the #1 HS player in the country, Tim Thomas.
Thomas lived up to the hype by averaging 17 points and 6 rebounds per game helping Villanova capture a share of the BIG EAST Regular Season Championship and advance to the championship game of the BIG EAST Tournament.
That was enough to earn a #4 seed in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament where the Wildcats would lose in the 2nd round to the #5 seed Cal Bears. Thomas would end up being Villanova's first one-and-done player in program history.
"I had such a great year that coach Lappas and coach Hewitt forced me to go (pro). I was a pro guy taking a chance on going to college and I chose Nova."