Ranking the Top 50 Big East Players, Part III: #16-#1

Posted by Brad Cavallaro on November 7th, 2018

Here are the top 16 players in the Big East to conclude the series. Part I can be found here and Part II can be found here.

Markus Howard is one of the More Interesting Players in College Basketball (USA Today Images)

  • 16. Eli Cain, DePaul, SR, Wing. Cain experienced decreased scoring and efficiency as a junior, a decline that coincided with his move from the wing to the point guard position. But last year’s lead guard experiment should ultimately benefit the senior as he was able to diversify his skill set. As Cain returns to his natural position this season as a secondary ball-handler, expect a bounce-back campaign. He averaged 11.7 PPG and 4.7 APG last year.
  • 15. Emmitt Holt, Providence, SR, PF. Holt missed all of last season with an injury/illness, but he should make a substantial impact in his return to the Providence lineup this year. The 6’7’’ senior played almost exclusively at center two seasons ago, but he will now see more time at power forward, correspondingly reducing his quickness advantage over opposing big men. Holt can score with his back to the basket, attack from the high post, and hit three-point jumpers, which makes him a very dangerous offensive player.
  • 14. Naji Marshall, Xavier, SO, Wing. Marshall broke into the starting lineup midway through last season and showed great potential as a freshman. The 6’7’’ wing can play both the three and the four positions and should be in position to break out in replacement of Trevon Blueitt. He averaged 7.7 PPG and 4.4 RPG a season ago, but he could easily approach 15.0 PPG in his new role. The versatile and athletic Marshall is certainly a player to watch over the next few seasons.
  • 13. Quentin Goodin, Xavier, JR, Guard. Goodin was forced into major minutes as a freshman at Xavier when Edmund Sumner suffered an injury. There was a steep learning curve for him at that point, but he ultimately benefited from being thrown into the fire because he has developed into one of the best players in the conference. He is a big physical guard who can attack the basket, defend at a high level, and facilitate for his teammates. Goodin shot 40 percent from three-point range in Big East play last season, and if he can replicate that accuracy, he will be rightly considered a top-tier point guard in college basketball.
  • 12. Max Strus, DePaul, SR, Wing. Strus made the jump from D-II look effortless last year with a seamless transition to high-major basketball. The 6’6’’ wing is a knockdown shooter who should become one of the top scorers in the Big East this season. He averaged 16.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and hit 81 three-pointers as a junior.
  • 11. Justin Simon, St. John’s, JR, Guard. Simon is a stat sheet stuffer who impacts the game in a variety of ways. The versatile 6’5’’ guard averaged 12.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG and 5.1 APG last season. Between his size and defensive ability, Simon is an ideal fit next to Shamorie Ponds in the St. John’s backcourt. If he can replicate his 42 percent three-point shooting from a season ago, he will become an NBA Draft pick.
  • 10. Sam Hauser, Marquette, JR, Wing. Hauser is one of the best three-point shooters in college basketball and is a prototypical stretch four. It will be interesting to see if he is asked to be more of a creator now that Andrew Rowsey has graduated, and if that impacts his efficiency. The savvy junior averaged 14.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and shot an incredible 49 percent from three-point range last year.

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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.

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Big East Burning Questions: Seton Hall & St. John’s

Posted by Brad Cavallaro on October 29th, 2018

Over the coming weeks, the Big East microsite will be previewing all the teams, players and key storylines to watch as we approach season tip-off. Be sure to follow @RTCBigEast and its contributors Justin Kundrat and Brad Cavallaro to get your fix. In the spotlight today will be (alphabetically) Seton Hall and St. John’s

Seton Hall: Can Seton Hall’s pair of transfers fill the gigantic void left by its departed senior class?

Raise Your Hands if Seton Hall Will Miss These Guys (USA Today Images)

Seton Hall has enjoyed a recent period of success in large part because of its stellar 2014 recruiting class. The group of Angel Delgado, Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, Ish Sanogo (and Isaiah Whitehead for two years) have transformed the team’s national perception in leading the Pirates to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Unfortunately for head coach Kevin Willard, these key players have exhausted their eligibility, leaving holdover Myles Powell as the team’s only returning starter. The junior guard appears poised to take a significant step forward this season, ready to become Seton Hall’s locker room leader and one of the best players in the Big East. In support of Powell, sophomore wing Myles Cale is an obvious candidate to put together a breakout season after his strong finish a season ago — 7.0 PPG in his last seven games — but Seton Hall’s season will ultimately come down to the performance of their two incoming transfers, Taurean Thompson and Quincy McKnight.

Thompson started as a freshman at Syracuse and put up solid offensive numbers there (9.2 PPG on 55% FG shooting), but he often drew the ire of fans with his defensive indifference and tendency to settle for contested mid-range jumpers. Scoring seems a strong suit, but will his defense, rebounding and overall floor game satisfy Willard? McKnight did it all for a terrible Sacred Heart team in averaging 18.9 PPG two seasons ago, but his assist-to-turnover ratio was putrid (0.65 ATO). He will need to upgrade his decision-making with the ball to stay on the floor against Big East competition, but hopefully last year spent practicing with a very talented team has allowed him to shore up that weakness.

Analyst rankings of Seton Hall this preseason seem to correlate with views on Thompson and McKnight. Those who think that both will become outstanding Big East players have Seton Hall returning to the Big Dance; those who have lukewarm feelings on the pair place the Pirates in the NIT; and those who are down on the duo have Willard’s club missing the postseason entirely. I have some optimism that Thompson and McKnight will become capable starters for this squad, but not necessarily good enough to push Seton Hall back into the NCAA Tournament. Expect a mid-level season for the Pirates.

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Previewing Four Key Big East Storylines

Posted by Justin Kundrat on October 13th, 2016

Every team experiences roster turnover and this offseason was no different. What’s interesting this time around, though, is that those personnel moves were particularly harsh to the better half of the conference. Villanova, Xavier, Butler, Seton Hall and Providence – the conference’s five representatives in the NCAA Tournament last season — each lost leading scorers or otherwise critical starters. Some of the bottom half of the league, however – e.g., Creighton and St. John’s — emerged relatively unscathed. There will be some natural upheaval in the standings as teams at the top re-position themselves with different rosters, but the 2016-17 Big East is likely to hinge on a number of key questions and themes below.

What to Make of Seton Hall Without Isaiah Whitehead?

Khadeen Carrington is Poised (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

Khadeen Carrington is Poised to Handle Seton Hall’s Attack (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

The highly touted 6’4” guard lived up to the hype in his sophomore season and used it to sign a four-year contract with the Brooklyn Nets over the summer. By putting the ball in his star’s hands and letting him create, Kevin Willard led the Pirates to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006. Whitehead was one of the highest usage players in the country last season, and rightfully so — his ability to get into the lane to score or dish puts immense pressure on opposing help defenders. With Whitehead no longer around, Willard will turn to junior Khadeen Carrington to handle the point guard duties. Carrington is more than capable of running the show, but teams always take a different form after losing a ball-dominant player. Whitehead and departed senior Derrick Gordon accounted for over half of the team’s assists last season, so the biggest question at Seton Hall is whether anyone on the team other than Carrington is capable of propelling the offense. Swingman Desi Rodriguez didn’t show that he could create much off the dribble last season and forward Angel Rodriguez primarily garnered his points off putbacks or dump-offs. Maybe freshman Myles Powell can create something for himself, but that remains a big question mark.

Marquette May Have the Big East’s Most Efficient Offense

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Trick or Treat: Burning Questions for Five Big East Teams, Part I

Posted by Mike Hopkins on October 29th, 2015

With Halloween nearing, we thought it would be fun to answer a preseason burning question for each Big East team using a simple “Trick” or “Treat.” Part I of this season preview answers one key question for each of the teams picked in the bottom half of the preseason Big East Coaches’ Poll. We’ll tackle the remainder tomorrow.

St. John’s: Can Chris Mullin actually coach?

(Photo: Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports)

Treat: Chris Mullin has not coached a single second of basketball at any level. That’s an indisputable fact unless there is some CYO coaching experience back in the day that we don’t know about. Mullin does, however, know the game of basketball and it will be that knowledge of the game blended with his longtime NBA experience (both as a player and executive) that will aid him on the Red Storm’s sideline. The former National Player of the Year (Wooden, UPI, USBWA – 1985) has also surrounded himself with an excellent staff that mixes college coaching with NBA player development experience. Despite having to basically bring in an entirely new roster this season, expect St. John’s to surprise some people with its effort and Mullin’s in-game coaching.

Seton Hall: Can Isaiah Whitehead lead the Pirates?

Trick: While Isaiah Whitehead is clearly the best player on Seton Hall, that doesn’t automatically mean he is the team’s leader. Last season was marred by locker room issues and a horrible 11 losses in the team’s final 14 games. Jared Sina left the program during the season and Sterling Gibbs — the player who presumably would be an ideal leader as an upperclassmen — decided to use his graduate transfer exemption and finish his collegiate career at UConn. Kevin Willard is putting all of his eggs in the Whitehead basket as he turns over the point guard duties to the Brooklyn sophomore. Whitehead spearheaded the recent decision to get the team off of social media this season — probably a good sign — but he’ll have to prove that he can lead the Pirates when things go sideways on the floor. Is he capable of that role?

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RTC Weekly Primer: The Wait is Over, Conference Season is Here…

Posted by Henry Bushnell on December 30th, 2014

The wait is over. The wait is finally over. For a month and a half now, college basketball has kept us intermittently engrossed. There have been glimpses of the beauty, sniffs of the joy. But beginning today, we get to dive in. We get the full dosage. We get to bask in all the glory. The beginning of conference play is important, not just because attention ratchets up and the momentous games come in droves, but because these first few weeks are full of realizations. This is when we start to get a true feel for individual teams. This is when preseason “underrated” statements are validated and gaudy records against weak competition are exposed. It’s too early to make sweeping judgments about conferences as wholes, but at last, the balance of power within those leagues will start to reveal itself. We’ll learn a lot these next few weeks. Or at the very least, we’ll think we have. And right now, that’s good enough.

Three for the Money

We’re actually going to bypass this section for now because there aren’t many single games that stand out this week. There are no clashes between conference heavyweights. In fact, there are only a couple of contests between two ranked teams. Instead, this week is about collections of games. It’s about the Big Ten tip-off event on Tuesday. It’s about the quintet of Big East games on Wednesday. It’s about the first full west coast Friday night in the Pac-12. And it’s about a jam-packed Saturday all across the nation.

A Juicy Big Ten Triple-header

Maryland Begins Its Opening Big Ten Season Today (USA Today Images)

Maryland Begins Its Opening Big Ten Season Today (USA Today Images)

The two worst teams in the league, Northwestern and Rutgers, actually get things started today at Noon, but we can pretend that game isn’t happening. The real curtain-raiser is the afternoon tripleheader on ESPN2. First, Iowa travels to Columbus to take on Ohio State in a rematch of last year’s upset of the then-No. 3 Buckeyes. Without Roy Devyn Marble in the lineup, though, the Hawkeyes aren’t the same team they were a year ago, more closely resembling the team that closed last season on a 1-7 slide. They lack consistent scoring punch in the backcourt, and that could mean trouble against an Ohio State team of which perimeter defense is a legitimate strength. KenPom only gives the Hawkeyes a 19 percent chance to enter Value City Arena and get a win.

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Delving Into The Competitive Structure of the New Big East

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 17th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

At its humblest origins, the Big East was founded in 1979 behind the fundamental purpose of consolidating the East Coast’s best basketball programs into one competitive league. It began with seven members – Providence, St. Johns, Georgetown, Syracuse, Seton Hall, Connecticut and Boston College – and within the next three years added Villanova (1980) and Pittsburgh (1982). While some of that founding core remains, conference realignment has caused massive changes to the league’s membership. Most of the league hopping – almost all of which can be attributed to football-motivated decisions – has taken place in the 21st century. The latest move saw Notre Dame, who housed its basketball and Olympic sports in the Big East but kept its football independence, declare its intentions to join the ACC. There is no timetable yet for the Irish’s move, but for an athletic program as proud and as financially-supported as Notre Dame, there’s little chance school administrators will linger around in Big East territory for any extended context, even if leaving requires a hefty exit fee. As currently constructed, the Big East will feature a 15-team hoops league in 2012-13. Two years from now, when all the realignment pieces are settled into their new homes, the league will field a decidedly different blend of disparate programs. The hectic realignment frenzy of recent years forced me to research the Big East’s jumbled future membership, an exercise that left me nostalgic about the endless hoops drama the league has produced and discouraged for a bleak future.

A reckless compilation of new programs, the Big East was assembled so that Aresco could present an appealing package to prospective media rights negotiatiors (Photo credit: John P Filo/AP Photo).

Starting in 2013, this is the mixed bag of hoops castoffs the Big East will proudly own: Cincinnati, UConn, Villanova, Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Rutgers, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, South Florida, Temple, Houston, SMU, UCF, and Memphis. That’s assuming Louisville or UConn or Villanova or any other programs that could fill a potential future opening in the ACC (if Notre Dame joins as a full member, or if commissioner John Swofford looks to add a 16th basketball-only member) don’t jump ship before then. It’s hardly the grizzled band of geographically-fitting programs we once knew, the one with the hostile rivalries and legendary coaches and highly-appealing hard-nosed brand of hoops. But it’s merely life in the new Big East, the latest example of the detrimental and usually unintended byproducts of conference realignment. A league brought together for basketball purposes was largely undone by the allure of football money. Lest I digress on the evils of conference realignment (a column for another day), the reality – that the Big East, from a basketball standpoint, is now a shell of its former self – warrants a reassessment of the league’s power structure and its future standing among other power conferences. SI.Com’s college hoops’ analytical extraordinaire, Luke Winn – in response to new Big East commissioner Mike Aresco’s comment that, despite realignment-related losses, “We’re still the strongest top-to-bottom basketball conference in the country” – quantified the Big East’s realignment efficiency rate and found the reconfigured league to be the “weakest top-to-bottom major conference, not the strongest.”

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