- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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Villanova lost guards Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek from last year's 13-19 team. Say what you will about both players and their 2012 seasons -- in Wayns' case, especially, the loss might be addition by (frustrating, ball-dominating) subtraction -- the departures left Wildcats coach Jay Wright with just one returning guard, junior James Bell, of any note.
That is no longer the case. Chennault, who averaged 9.2 points per game as a sophomore at Wake last season, was granted a hardship waiver by the NCAA on Monday. As such, he won't have to wait the customary year before suiting up for the Wildcats; he'll be able to play for Villanova immediately.
"The Chennault family has been dealing with so much this year," Wright said in a statement Monday afternoon. "Tony's mom has faced health issues and his brother, Mike Jay, died tragically earlier this month. We are grateful that the NCAA has taken these unique circumstances into account, and I know Tony is excited about the opportunity to be on the court with us next season."
The hardship waiver is occasionally looked upon with some suspicion, being a forgiving policy with the potential to be cynically exploited as a transfer loophole. But Chennault's case obviously (and unfortunately, given the tragic circumstances) qualifies.
What does it mean for Villanova? Chennault isn't likely to be an All-Big East candidate right away, but he is a nice cog in what could have been a much more difficult backcourt rebuilding process. Chennault brings extra built-in experience, and Wright will hope that experience dovetails nicely with the arrival of Ryan Arcidiacono, the No. 6-ranked point guard in the class of 2012 and rising sophomore Ty Johnson.
The strength of the 2012-13 Villanova Wildcats will be in the frontcourt, where Mouphtaou Yarou and JayVaughn Pinkston loom large. No, it may not be enough to compete for a Big East title -- but with Chennault in tow, the massive gap in Villanova's backcourt became considerably smaller.