Ranking the Top 50 Big East players, Part I: #50-#34

Posted by Brad Cavallaro on October 30th, 2018

The Big East is once again loaded but there has been a clear changing of the guard since many of the league’s best players were seniors. Stars such as Angel Delgado, Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, Kyron Cartwright, Rodney Bullock, Marcus Foster, Trevon Blueitt, JP Macura, Kelan Martin, and Andrew Rowsey have exhausted their eligibility. Of course, Villanova’s quartet of NBA early entrants — Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Omari Spellman, Donte Divencenzo — and a couple more, like Khyri Thomas and Marcus Derrickson, are now on NBA rosters. The Big East lost a significant amount of talent, but, as always, there are a number of players who are ready to step into bigger roles and become the faces of their respective programs.

JuCo Transfer Zach Hankins at Xavier is One of the More Interesting Big East Prospects This Season (USA Today Images)

This three-part article will rank the top 50 players in the Big East this season, starting with #50 to #34 today. The player’s ability and projected production were factors in determining the ranking. There were six players who just missed the cut and are too good to omit entirely: Sedee Keita (St. John’s), Jalen Coleman-Lands (DePaul), AJ Reeves (Providence), Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (Villanova), Femi Olujobi (DePaul), and Henry Baddley (Butler). Here are the top 50 players in the Big East this season.

  • 50. Cole Swider, Villanova, FR, Wing. Villanova’s roster is loaded with freshman and sophomore wings, but Swider could have the best chance to emerge from that group. The 6’9’’ combo forward is an excellent three-point shooter which should allow him to earn a spot in the Wildcats’ rotation.
  • 49. Joey Hauser, Marquette, FR, PF. Hauser is the younger brother of Marquette’s starting power forward, Sam Hauser. Much like his brother, Joey should be able to provide immediate scoring and outside shooting off the bench. It will be interesting to see if Marquette uses him as a small-ball five for certain stretches in an offensive-centric lineup.
  • 48. Mikey Dixon, St. John’s, SO, Guard. Dixon is a Quinnipiac transfer who is entering his first eligible year at St. John’s after averaging 16.5 PPG and shooting 37 percent from three-point range as a freshman. Dixon will likely be part of a much improved Red Storm bench where he will play both backcourt positions.
  • 47. Davion Mintz, Creighton, JR, Guard. Mintz has been Creighton’s starting point guard since Maurice Watson suffered a season-ending ACL injury two seasons ago. He has typically deferred to the offensive skill sets of Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas on his own team, but he will now need to play a more active role in the offense (6.1 PPG/3.1 APG last season). At 6’3″, Mintz has great size for a lead guard, is a good athlete, and a steady floor general.
  • 46. Nate Fowler, Butler, SR, Center. Fowler has steadily increased his production throughout his career and should finally get the opportunity to start as a senior. The 6’10’’ center is a skilled offensive player who can stretch the defense, but he is a below average athlete for the Big East. Fowler averaged 5.9 PPG and 3.1 RPG as a junior.
  • 45. Brendan Bailey, Marquette, FR, Wing. Bailey is a former top 100 recruit who spent his last two years on a Mormon mission. The 6’8’’ wing is a talented scorer who will play a major role immediately for the Golden Eagles. It would not be surprising to see the freshman crack the starting lineup and give Marquette a third reliable perimeter scorer next to Sam Hauser and Markus Howard.
  • 44. David Duke, Providence, FR, Guard. Duke is a long and athletic guard who looks like he will be an opening day starter for Providence. He will have big shoes to fill as Kyron Cartwright was such a vital piece of the Friars’ program, but his ability to defend and finish at the rim will also be invaluable. The 6’5’’ freshman is not a good perimeter shooter, however, which could limit him offensively.

  • 43. LJ Figueroa, St. John’s, SO, Wing. Figueroa is a former top 100 recruit who has spent some time in junior college. The versatile wing can capably play three different positions and is a terrific three-point shooter (48% in JuCo). Figueroa will play a key role for the Red Storm this season as possibly the team’s sixth man.
  • 42. Quincy McKnight, Seton Hall, JR, Guard. McKnight was a big scorer at Sacred Heart and looks like the successor to Khadeen Carrington at the lead guard position. He averaged 18.9 PPG and 3.0 APG as a sophomore in the NEC, but also turned it over an atrocious 4.6 times a game. Hopefully, McKnight can rein in his decision-making by playing a smaller role on a better team.
  • 41. Isaiah Jackson, Providence, SR, Wing. Jackson has had an enigmatic career for the Friars. He is virtually unplayable when off his game, but he is conversely extremely valuable when playing well. Few players in the Big East can have such severe fluctuations in performance. Jackson is even more essential to Providence this season as he is a strong and versatile defender and one of the most experienced players on the team. The 6’6’’ wing averaged 7.4 PPG and 4.2 RPG last season.
  • 40. Sacar Anim, Marquette, JR, Wing. Anim emerged as a defensive stopper for Marquette last season as the team’s starting small forward. The 6’5’’ junior looks like he will play a major role once again even if he gets less playing time on a deeper Golden Eagles squad. Anim averaged 7.6 PPG last season.
  • 39. Kaleb Johnson, Georgetown, SR, Wing. Johnson experienced a breakout junior season where he tripled his offensive production and earned a consistent starting role with the Hoyas. He plays with great energy and is an ideal glue guy who can defend multiple positions. The 6’6’’ wing averaged 7.9 PPG and 4.2 RPG last year.
  • 38. Jacob Epperson, Creighton, SO, Center. Coach Greg McDermott broke Epperson’s redshirt late last season after Martin Krampejl suffered a season-ending injury, and the 6’11’’ center was impressive in limited action. He is a great lob target, can stretch defenses with his jumper, and is extremely mobile for his size. Whether he starts next to Krampejl or is the sixth man this year, Epperson will play around 25 MPG for the Bluejays and make a significant impact.
  • 37. Zach Hankins, Xavier, SR, Center. Hankins was the D-II Player of the Year at Ferris State (MI) in 2017-18 and has joined Xavier for his final season. The 6’11’’ center is a skilled offensive player who can score with his back to the basket and can knock down an array of mid-range jumpers. He also is a good rim protector, although it will be interesting to see how these skills translate to high-major basketball. Hankins will likely split the center position with Tyrique Jones fairly evenly this season.
  • 36. Collin Gillespie, Villanova, SO, Guard. Gillespie was surprisingly good as a freshman in playing meaningful minutes for the National Champions. The 6’3’’ combo guard will see more playing time in his second season as he appears poised to become Villanova’s sixth man. Gillespie could even challenge Jahvon Quinerly for the starting position if things go well. He averaged 4.3 PPG and shot 39 percent from three-point range last season.
  • 35. Connor Cashaw, Creighton, SR, Wing. Cashaw is a graduate transfer from Rice who averaged 15.5 PPG and 7.1 RPG last season. The 6’5’’ wing can play multiple positions and gives Creighton a legitimate option as a small-ball power forward. If Cashaw can regain his shooting stroke (32% 3FG as a junior, 37% 3FG as a sophomore), he will make the Jays’ offense even more potent. Like many players on this portion of the list, Cashaw will either start at power forward or be the team’s sixth man.
  • 34. Ty-Shon Alexander, Creighton, SO, Guard. Alexander was eased into the rotation as a freshman, but he will be required to take a major step forward if Creighton wants to avoid falling into the bottom tier of the conference. The 6’4’’ sophomore saw most of his minutes as the backup point guard but will likely move off the ball where he can better focus on scoring. Alexander could easily double his offensive output of 5.5 PPG this season.
Brad Cavallaro (5 Posts)


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