Jay Wright is a coach in demand since leading Villanova to its first Final Four in 24 years.
The charity requests, public speaking invitations, and the congratulatory messages have never really stopped since the Wildcats lost to North Carolina in the national semifinal.
Oh yeah, an NBA job interview with his hometown team also was on the schedule.
When the Philadelphia 76ers came looking to Wright to fill their coaching vacancy, he had to listen to team president Ed Stefanski's pitch. Wright and Stefanski are longtime friends and associates on the Philly basketball scene, and Wright was intrigued by the possibility of taking over a franchise that has made two straight playoff trips.
``It got me thinking for a day or so,'' Wright said by phone on Thursday. ``In the end, it wasn't that it's not a good job, it was a great job. I didn't want to leave Villanova. I love what we've got going on.''
as two trips to the regional final among Villanova's five straight NCAA tournament appearances on his resume, and has firmly established the Wildcats as a Big East contender and national power.
It also makes the well-dressed coach a desirable option for any team looking to make a coaching splash. He'd been rumored as a candidate the last two times the Kentucky job was open, only to affirm his commitment each time to Villanova.
The Sixers, though, were different.
Wright said he wouldn't have considered interviewing for any other opening except for the Sixers. The Wildcats play a few games each season in the Sixers' home arena, and players from each team play together in late-night summer scrimmages.
Wright told athletic director Vince Nicastro last month that he had to at least listen to Stefanski.
Wright, who would have given the Sixers a huge public relations boost, listened to the pros and cons of the job. Wright laughed when he said by the end of the interview, the pair were ``planning how to win an NBA championship.''
So it was time for a chat with his family and Nicastro.
``I didn't need anything from Villanova,'' Wright said. ``I just needed to say to (Nicastro), if I did this, my next concern would be our program. The program's in good shape.''
college coaches who move to the NBA have the shelf life of an undrafted free agent. Plus, family was a concern. Wright has two teenage sons and a young daughter he wanted to watch grow up and be able to attend their game's on short notice.
So he told Stefanksi and the Sixers, thanks, but no thanks.
``At some time you're going to have to leave Villanova,'' Wright said. ``With everything in place, coming off a Final Four, it's not the time. We have so much we want to do here and we hope to be here a long, long time.''
Eddie Jordan was hired by the Sixers and signed an $8.1 million, three-year contract that dwarfs Wright's deal. Wright's contract takes him through the 2012-13 season, and he said more money or a contract extension was not an issue.
``It's not $3 million, but I'm well-compensated,'' Wright said.
Wright's flirtation with the NBA is similar to star point guard Scottie Reynolds' desire to see what's at the next level. The 6-foot-2 point guard declared for the NBA draft, but has not hired an agent and could decide to return to the Wildcats for his senior season.
Reynolds must decide by June 15 and has been working out for various NBA teams.
His half-court dash for the winning layup with 0.5 seconds left against Pittsburgh sent Villanova to the Final Four for the first time since 1985 and was one of the biggest baskets in program history.
Wright said Reynolds is ``leaning toward coming back.''
``I think his decision is, 'Do I want to go into the NBA this year maybe as a second-round pick with the confidence I'll make it, or do I want to wait and get my college degree and try and be a first-round pick next year?' `` Wright said.
Reynolds' return, along with one of the top recruiting classes in the nation, would make the Wildcats a favorite to return to the Final Four. Wright is glad he'll be along for the ride.
``I just have the best job for me,'' he said.

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