Jay Wright says he nearly kicked Kyle Lowry out of Villanova – before he played a game

WP

There might not be an NBA player who has quietly accomplished more in the last few years than Kyle Lowry. The Raptors’ point guard is one of the sport’s most underappreciated players, even after making back-to-back All-Star teams, winning a gold medal with the U.S. Olympic team this summer and leading Toronto to the Eastern Conference Finals last season.

But it wasn’t long ago that Lowry was a relative unknown in NBA circles after a brief two-year career at Villanova.

And as we learned Monday, if Jay Wright had acted on impulse, Lowry’s career on the Main Line might have been even shorter. In fact, it might not have happened at all.

Wright recently joined FOX Sports college basketball insider Evan Daniels on the latest episode of “The Sidelines Podcast” and dropped a shocking but funny anecdote: He nearly kicked Lowry off the team before he ever played a game at Villanova.

You can listen above, but here are the details from Coach Wright:

“The summer before he even played here he was missing classes and I was on the road recruiting, and I had to come back and say ‘we talked about all this before you came. If you’re not going to class, you might as well leave right now. Because you’re never going to play.’ So that was before he even started fall classes. That was just the beginning.

And then after his first year, I remember we played New Mexico in the first round of the NCAA Tournament his freshman year, the practice in between playing New Mexico and Florida, I was going out of practice and send him on a plane home. Just because of his, you know what? He was just disruptive. He was a contrarian. He would purposely do things the opposite of the way you wanted them done, just to show you he had control and you didn’t.”

Thankfully, though, as Wright explained, Lowry was a different player by his sophomore year. At that point, he became a major contributor on an Elite Eight team that included Randy Foye, Allan Ray and others, before declaring for the 2006 NBA Draft.

Even better? His relationship with Wright has only blossomed since he left, and he has become a favorite player of his former coach.

Wright also uses Lowry as an example with his current team.

“He allows us to tell stories when he comes back; there’s nothing anyone can do here that is much worse than what he did when he was here. But you see the man he’s become when he comes back. He’s married to his high school sweetheart, two beautiful young boys, he’s a great father, great husband, great businessman, loyal Villanovan.

And to see that? They don’t know what it was. They see him here in the summer working out at 5:30 in the morning before we even get on the floor. So then when I tell them what he was like in college, it’s a way for them to [think], ‘man, if he can do it, I can do it.’ We’re as proud of him as the man he’s become as the player.”

This podcast is a must-listen for any college hoops fan, as Wright actually dives much deeper into Lowry as a player and discusses everything from last year’s Final Four run to his time with Team USA this summer.

Plus, if you missed an exclusive interview with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski last week on the debut of “The Sidelines Podcast,” you can click here. And to subscribe for all episodes, including upcoming interviews with Final Four coaches and NBA stars, click below.

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