Where is he now? What has Charlie Villanueva been up to?
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 23:02
Destiny is a tricky thing. Some people look for it while others can’t escape it. In Charlie Villanueva’s case, he was destined to be a Husky, no matter how many twists and turns came his way.
Born to Dominican immigrants Roberto Villanueva and Doris Mejia, Charlie Villanueva grew up in Queens, N.Y. and holds dual citizenship in both Dominican Republic and the United States.
Villanueva was an avid baseball fan from an early age. But it wasn’t until he began playing AAU ball along with his future teammates Ben Gordon and Taliek Brown that he realized his potential as a basketball player.
As a result, Villanueva decided to transfer from Newtown High School in Queens to Blair Academy Prep School in Blairstown, N.J. during his sophomore year.
At Blair Academy, Villanueva was the roommate of Luol Deng, who currently plays for the Chicago Bulls. Together, Villanueva and Deng led the Blair Academy Buccaneers to three consecutive New Jersey Mid-Atlantic Prep League titles. Both were named as McDonald All-Americans, and New Jersey State co-Players of the Year in 2003.
As Villanueva approached graduation at Blair Academy, he initially declared for the 2003 NBA Draft, only to withdraw from the event upon further consideration.
One of the main reasons for Villanueva’s change of heart is due to Bill Self, who was the head coach at the University of Illinois at the time. Self had recruited Villanueva and gotten a verbal commitment. However, after Self left the Fighting Illini for the University of Kansas Jayhawks, Villanueva withdrew his commitment as well.
That was when Jim Calhoun came calling. As an established basketball powerhouse at the time, UConn also had Gordon and Brown in the program as well, further convincing Villanueva to join the Huskies.
Prior to his freshman season, Villanueva was named Preseason Rookie of the Year in the Big East polls, and he did not disappoint. Awarded the Big East Rookie of the Week on several occasions, Villanueva averaged 8.9 ppg and 5.3 rpg coming off the bench for Calhoun, and helped UConn capture its second national championship in 2004. He was also named as a member of the Big East All-Rookie team at the end of the season.
By the time his sophomore season rolled around, Villanueva had already garnered national attention as he was listed as a preseason candidate for both the Naismith and Wooden National Player of the Year awards. AP All-American listed him as an honorable mention as well.
While UConn wasn’t able to defend its title in the 2004-2005 season, Villanueva still had an impressive season by putting up 13.6 ppg and 8.3 rpg. Subsequently, he declared for the 2005 NBA Draft, and was selected as the 7th overall pick by the Toronto Raptors.
North of the border, Villanueva contributed 13.0 ppg and 6.4 for the Raptors in his first year and was named as a member of the 2005-2006 All-NBA Rookie First Team. Despite those achievements, the Raptors did not keep Villanueva for the upcoming season, and traded him to the Milwaukee Bucks during that offseason.
In his seven-year career in the NBA so far, Villanueva is averaging 12.0 ppg and 5.4 rpg.
In his personal life, Villanueva is also known for having a condition named Alopecia Areata, a non life-threatening, autoimmune skin disease that causes hair loss on the body. In 2005, Villanueva became a spokesperson for the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.