March 24, 2023 

Villanova and Maddy Siegrist are ready for the spotlight

Wildcats clinch first Sweet Sixteen appearance in 20 years

This season, Villanova senior Maddy Siegrist has put herself and her school into the national spotlight. The leading scorer in the nation has led the No. 4 seed Villanova Wildcats to a 30-6 record and a Sweet Sixteen appearance. On Friday the Wildcats will face No. 9 seed Miami with a chance to clinch the program’s second-ever Elite Eight appearance.

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Let’s quickly recap some of the ways Maddy Siegrist has had an historic season of her own:

Siegrist, an AP and USBWA First Team All-American, became the leading scorer in Villanova basketball history (men’s or women’s). In a game against Seton Hall earlier this season, she put up 50 points on 20-of-26 shooting, marking a new program and BIG EAST single-game scoring record and new record for made field goals in a BIG EAST game. In January Siegrist broke the Philadelphia Big 5 women’s all-time leading scoring record. Just last week in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the BIG EAST Player of the Year became only the fifth player in Division I women’s basketball history to score 1,000 points in a season.

Despite the weight of her accomplishments, Siegrist doesn’t internalize the pressure to perform each and every night. She simply takes advantage of what she knows is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at a school with a rich basketball history.

“I don’t really think it’s pressure,” Siegrist told the media on Thursday. “I think it’s just a privilege to play at [a school] with such a strong basketball tradition on the men’s and women’s side. We’ll do the best we can to continue to carry on the tradition this year.”

Maddy’s incredible abilities on the court always feel a bit understated. She’s not a flashy player, but instead dominates opponents with her consistent shot-making abilities, rebounding effort and natural length and athleticism. She’s a reliable, team-oriented player who has a quiet style of leadership that puts her teammates at ease.

“Yeah, Maddy is so genuine in who she is. It’s so natural,” said Villanova head coach Denise Dillon. “Like just her easy conversation with any walk of life. It could be person in their 80s, middle age, adults, whoever, or little kids, and she’s so great with her peers. Like she just is a personable girl who just is always looking out for others.

“I think her greatest mark on this program has been her leadership and conviction to her team and convincing them, like, we’re capable of being successful. You’re ready — she tells her team, you’re ready. Last year she told our freshmen, ‘You’ve got this. You know what you’re doing.'”

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Stepping into the spotlight

Maddy Siegrist is used to being overlooked. As a high school senior in 2019, Siegrist was not even included in the Hoopgurlz top 100 freshmen rankings. During his recruiting pitch to Siegrist, former Villanova head coach Harry Perretta told the high school senior that she wasn’t likely to see playing time until her upperclassman years, citing her slight frame and under-developed shot.

After redshirting her freshman season in 2019-20, Siegrist played her sophomore season under the leadership of Perretta, who built the foundation of elite basketball at Villanova in 42 seasons as head coach before stepping away in 2020. Siegrist came out strong for Perretta’s curtain call season, earning BIG EAST Freshman of the Year honors and a spot on the All-BIG EAST First team. That season, she helped send Perretta out with an upset of then No. 12 DePaul in the final home game of his career.

Siegrist has been the perfect player to usher in the Denise Dillon era at Villanova. Behind Siegrist’s transcendent play, Dillon has started her Villanova coaching career with a 71-22 overall record including a postseason trip in each of her first three seasons (WNIT quarterfinals, 2021; NCAA second round, 2022; Sweet Sixteen and counting, 2023). Siegrist has been named All-BIG EAST First team in each of the four seasons she played at Villanova, and clinched BIG EAST Player of the Year honors in both 2022 and 2023.

While Siegrist, now widely seen as a top WNBA prospect, was named one of four finalists for the Naismith National Player of the Year, she hasn’t received the same media attention and spotlight of fellow finalists like South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston or Iowa’s Caitlin Clark. She doesn’t get the NIL endorsement attention that Miami’s Cavinder twins or LSU’s double-double queen Angel Reese receive. Perhaps it’s the fact that she plays in a non-Power 5 Conference or that Villanova doesn’t get featured on national television as often, but Maddy doesn’t get the same national attention that other stars receive. Much like it has been her entire career, her talent is often overlooked.

During Friday’s Sweet Sixteen matchup against Miami (ESPN, 2:30 p.m. ET), though, Maddy Siegrist will be the best player on the floor and should be discussed as such. The eyes of basketball fans around the country will have a chance to see her quietly excel like she has all season for the Wildcats.

Siegrist is accustomed to not being in the spotlight. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t belong there.

Written by Tee Baker

Tee has been a contributor to The Next since March Madness 2021 and is currently a contributing editor, BIG EAST beat reporter and curator of historical deep dives.

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