Big East Preseason Player Awards

Posted by Justin Kundrat on November 10th, 2017

The season is finally upon us, with eight Big East teams taking the floor tonight. Here is the Big East microsite’s preseason Honor Roll.

  • Player of the Year: Trevon Bluiett, Xavier. This award could end up with a number of players depending on how the season turns out, but it’s hard to argue that any single Big East player has as much of an impact on his team as Bluiett. The 6’6″ senior was unstoppable last March, averaging 25.0 PPG in the NCAA Tournament before the Musketeers finally fell to Gonzaga in the Elite Eight. He’s arguably the conference’s best scorer and the Musketeers averaged eight more points per 100 possessions with the versatile wing on the floor. The Xavier offense will be increasingly reliant on his ability to draw the attention of opposing defenses, particularly without the services of Edmond Sumner this year. Provided Bluiett finishes the season as advertised, it’s difficult to imagine many conference players posting punchier stat lines.

Jay Wright will be happy to have Omari Spellman playing this season (Mark Konezny/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Newcomer of the Year: Omari Spellman, Villanova. Before being ruled ineligible, Spellman garnered plenty of attention last offseason as one of Villanova’s highest-rated recruits of the last decade. Now that he has been cleared to play in his second year with the program, the 6’9″ freshman is one of the team’s lone legitimate post presences. Barring foul trouble, Spellman should receive plenty of playing time, making his role as a scorer and low-post defender critical for a team that lacks depth in those areas. There will be plenty of freshmen in the Big East who will make an impact come March, and perhaps several who earn starting roles along the way, but the spotlight will naturally follow the conference’s front-runner, Villanova.

  • Breakout Player of the Year: Kamar Baldwin, Butler. As a three-star recruit, Baldwin’s breakout season may have actually been last year. As a freshman, the 6’0″ off-guard averaged 10.1 PPG, good for third on the team, while simultaneously totaling one of the highest steal rates (3.8%) in college basketball. Yet despite his heroic defensive efforts against Middle Tennessee State and North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament, it felt as if Baldwin was generally unknown. With three of the Bulldogs’ four rotational backcourt players now gone, the stellar all-around play that tormented point guards across the Big East last year will be impossible to overlook.

Kamar Baldwin Just Needs More Recognition (USA Today Images)

  • Scoring Leader: Marcus Foster, Creighton. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the leading returning scorer from last season is in this spot. Foster’s 18.3 PPG were second in the Big East only to Villanova’s Josh Hart, and, with several key players to replace, Greg McDermott will undoubtedly rely on the senior’s scoring to keep his high-octane offense humming. Foster’s efficiency might dip at times as it did when point guard Maurice Watson was lost to a season-ending injury, but few conference players will command as large of a share of possessions.
  • Rebounding LeaderAngel Delgado, Seton Hall. The Big East rebounding race wasn’t even close last year, as Delgado’s obscene 13.1 RPG led all Division I players. He is arguably the best rebounder in college basketball and his bullying of defenders in the post accounts for a large portion of the Pirates’ offense. By way of a point of reference, the Big East’s second-place finisher in rebounding was DePaul’s Tre’Darius McCallum at just 6.8 RPG. Watching the 6’10” senior’s elite positioning under the glass is a sight in itself.
  • Assist Leader: Kyron Cartwright, Providence. Cartwright’s command in distribution of the basketball comes close to Delgado’s share in rebounding. The 5’11” senior averaged 6.7 APG (the next closest conference peer logged 4.2 APG, excluding Maurice Watson pre-injury), pegging him as the conference leader (and fourth nationally) by a significant margin. With a roster largely similar for Ed Cooley’s team this year, there is little reason to believe that Cartwright can’t repeat his stellar performance.
Justin Kundrat (120 Posts)

Villanova grad, patiently waiting another 10 years for season tickets. Follow Justin on twitter @JustinKundrat or email him at justin.kundrat@gmail.com


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