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Jalen Brunson is going to be a problem at Villanova

The incoming freshman showed he has all the talent to be one of the best point guards in the country at the U19 FIBA World Championship.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

There's always been something deceptive about the enormity of Jalen Brunson's talent.

Coming out of Stevenson in the north suburbs of Chicago, Brunson was an All-American, state champion and five-star recruit, but never earned as much notoriety as the two players he directly proceeded as Illinois' Mr. Basketball, Jabari Parker and Jahlil Okafor. While Parker and Okafor fit the physical profile of a surefire future pro, Brunson wasn't as immediately imposing from first glance.

During an age when point guards have grown as tall as wings and run faster than ever, Brunson is a throwback. He's a stocky 6'2 and always got by on his guile more than his speed. He's a pinball darting around the court, excelling with a game that would have seemed more appropriate three or four decades ago.

As USA Basketball's U-19 team headed to Greece, Brunson was seen as part of a larger collective rather than an individual standout. Four highly touted high school players drew most of the headlines, as Brunson split time in the backcourt with two other distinguished guards in his graduating class, Oklahoma State's Juwan Evans and Arizona's Allonzo Trier. He played about half the available minutes through the first five games as the Americans won each contest by an average of more than 32 points.

That all changed once the U.S. got to the semifinals against a Greek squad playing in front of its home crowd. Someone had to take over, and Brunson did. He was a master at controlling the tempo of the game and was able to score in the halfcourt at will when most of his teammates had gone cold. He was sensational in the second half, scoring 12 in the third quarter to finish with a game-high 30 points.

He did it in the title game against Croatia once again, taking over late to help the U.S. survive its toughest test to win the gold in overtime. He finished with a team-high 14 points, added seven assists and played over 40 minutes without a turnover. He ended the tournament as the USA's leading scorer and best three-point shooter, while placing No. 3 in the competition in assists. It was enough to earn him MVP honors.

Late in the gold medal game, Brunson showed everything that's going to make him one of the best point guards in the country next season as a freshman at Villanova. With just over two minutes left in the fourth and the U.S. trailing by a point, Brunson sucked in the defense and kicked out to Josh Jackson for a wide open three:

After Croatia took the lead back on a three-pointer on the next possession, Brunson did it himself out of the pick-and-roll. He found the spot he likes at the left elbow, got his defender up in the air and calmly drained the go-ahead jumper:

In overtime, Brunson was the engine who got the U.S. out to a 10-0 run to win the game. He ripped through the Croatian defense with a startling Eurostep layup when the U.S. needed it:

To those who followed Brunson throughout his prep career, none of this was all that surprising. This was a player who once scored 56 points as a junior in a state Final Four game, against a team that included giants like Okafor and Georgetown's Paul White. He consistently held his own at All-Star events like the Nike Hoops Summit and McDonald's Game, but seemed like he needed something tangibly on the line to really take over.

All of this should make Villanova very happy. As the highest-rated recruit coach Jay Wright has landed since Corey Stokes in 2007, Brunson is the perfect chaser for a program battling the hangover of back-to-back exits in the Round of 32 after entering the NCAA Tournament as either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed.

Brunson will have a ton of talent around him, starting with senior Ryan Arcidiacono and junior Josh Hart in the backcourt. Daniel Ochefu should be one of the better rim protectors in the country as a senior, and Kris Jenkins will finally get a bigger role after studying behind Jayvaughn Pinkston most of his career.

Wright has produced some terrific point guards in his time, from Kyle Lowry to Scottie Reynolds to Arcidiacono, who should leave school as a four-year starter. Even within a crowded backcourt, it will be impossible to keep Brunson off the floor. His understanding of the game is advanced well beyond his years and his level of skill is rarely seen in a young point guard.

The way Brunson changes speed, creates space for himself and others and scores from all three levels will make you think he was born to do this. In a sense, it's a true. His father Rick played in the NBA for nine seasons, giving him a genetic advantage almost no one else in the class of 2015 can compete with. For a player who could barely touch the rim when he entered Stevenson four years ago, though, it's clear there's a lot more than natural talent on display.

That improvement is evident in the way Brunson has developed his three-point shot, but it's also manifested itself physically. Even if he'll never be the longest (6'3 wingspan) or fastest player on the floor, he's become functionally explosive without being world-class athletically. Look at the way he turns on the burners in the USA's first game against Croatia back in late June.

The last two seasons, Villanova has had great college teams that just seemed one supreme talent short of living up to their lofty seeding. Brunson can be that guy, especially in a year where the national landscape doesn't look as stiff as it did last season.

If college basketball is considered to be wide open this season, it pays to have a player like Brunson on your side. Before you pick Villanova to lose early again in March, just remember what you saw at the U19 tournament. As he's proven anywhere he's ever played, Jalen Brunson can change the complexion of a team.