OVER A three-week span in 2016, Ryan Arcidiacono went from being a minor celebrity on the Villanova campus to a household name across America. March Madness tends to do that—you never know where the next hero is coming from. Arcidiacono was that tournament's Most Outstanding Player, but his legend was cast with one iconic play in the final against North Carolina: As the clock ticked down, he dribbled upcourt, drew a double team and dumped off to teammate Kris Jenkins, who delivered a national championship for 'Nova with a buzzer-beating three. SI caught up with Arcidiacono last week between games with Chicago's G League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls.
•SI: Do you get asked about that play a lot?
RA: Definitely. Throughout the G League and even the NBA, people recognize me. Fans are like, 'You're that Villanova guy, you passed the ball.' They ask what I was thinking when I was dribbling up the court. How close were you to shooting it? Take me through the last few seconds. And there's a lot of Carolina fans out there who tell me how upset they were when the Tar Heels lost.
•SI: What advice would you give to whoever ends up as this year's MOP?
RA: Thank everybody who helped you get there. Show your appreciation. Know that when you go back to wherever you're from, people will recognize you and it'll be a great experience. From that point on you'll be a legend around the university.
•SI: What's that part of it like?
RA: Once you're done with the NCAA, you can accept all the free stuff people are giving you. It's nice when you go around town and people are buying you a beer or paying for your meal. There's a lot of good people in the Villanova area.
•SI: What was it like watching the tournament last year?
RA: It was cool, but I definitely wanted Villanova to do a little better. I was happy for UNC that they were able to pull out the title game. I kind of felt bad for them after we hit that crazy buzzer beater the year before.
•SI: Will you get to watch much this year?
RA: I'll try to watch as much as I can, specifically Villanova games. It's nice to sit back, relax and enjoy all the college kids and hopefully some upsets here and there. Just not against Villanova.