The Freshman 10: The Best and Worst of Big East Newcomers

Posted by mlemaire on December 6th, 2012

The season is only a month and some change old but it is never too early to check in on the progress of some of the conference’s most heralded and surprising freshmen. While young bloods like Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State and Nik Stauskas of Michigan have made an instant splash on the college scene, the Big East’s crop of rookies have made a more muted impact.  There was no methodology when it came to selecting which freshmen to analyze, so we just chose 10 of the most interesting freshmen to follow. Of course, conference play hasn’t even begun yet, so evaluating their body of work is somewhat of a trivial venture. But don’t you worry, we will be back later in the year to check in on some of these players again.

DaJuan Coleman (Syracuse)

The Learning Curve For Prized Freshman DaJuan Coleman Has Been Steeper Than Some Expected

It is still far too early to make a judgment call on what type of player DaJuan Coleman can become this season. But those who expected the highly touted forward to come in and immediately start anchoring the paint for the Orange probably need to adjust their expectations. To his credit, he seems to be getting better each game. But in six games against subpar competition, Coleman hasn’t seen much playing time and has shown only promise and inconsistency when he does play.

Anyone with eyes can see the wide-bodied forward is going to be an excellent rebounder and considering he is averaging 5.3 rebounds per game in just 16.3 minutes of playing time, he is already on his way to validating that obvious observation. But he isn’t a shot-blocker which is fine so long as he is an efficient scorer in the post and an elite rebounder. He has an impressive skill set and nimble feet for a man his size, but the ball rarely makes it back out to the perimeter if it goes to Coleman in the post, and he will need to take better care of it and make smarter decisions if he wants to continue to receive looks in the paint. His downfall offensively may be his sketchy free-throw shooting (55 FT%) as he is the type of strong interior player destined to draw a lot of fouls, and if he can even make his free throws at a 66 percent clip, he will be a much more productive scorer.

Jakarr Sampson (St. John’s)

It should come as no surprise that Sampson has adjusted to college basketball quickly because the Akron native was supposed to be suiting up for the Red Storm last season before lackluster academics forced him to return to prep school. But now that he is on the roster, he has wasted little time making his mark on both ends of the floor and is the clear front-runner for conference rookie of the year honors. The lanky 6’8″ forward already had a well-deserved reputation as a sensational dunker, but his game is more nuanced than that. Sampson has thus far started all nine of the team’s games, averaging 30.8 minutes per game, and he ranks second on the team in scoring (13.8 PPG), first in rebounding (6.6 RPG), and second in blocks (1.6 BPG).

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Big East Weekly Five: 06.14.12 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on June 14th, 2012

  1. It has been a while since we have checked in with some recent news from everybody’s favorite basketball conference that is slowly falling apart, and for that we apologize. We have real jobs (womp womp) and occasionally it can be difficult to find time to recap the week’s Big East news. That said, we recognize our recent shortcomings and will make amends starting now. Weekly Fives will come out on Tuesday morning, and barring some minor catastrophe, they will become a regular staple again. So rejoice, and enjoy some much belated news.
  2. Maybe Villanova isn’t going to lose center Markus Kennedy after all. The rising sophomore made the understandable announcement that he was transferring two weeks ago, presumably because there weren’t a lot of minutes to go around next season. Well now he appears to be reconsidering that decision, although it is still unknown whether coach Jay Wright would even take him back. Kennedy had an unremarkable freshman campaign, but did look like someone who could develop into a quality contributor down the road. The question now becomes whether he is good enough to continue to take up a scholarship Wright could give to a more talented recruit in the next year or two.
  3. The frontcourt that Rick Pitino has assembled at Louisville for next season will be very talented and very deep, but that didn’t stop the Cardinals from adding to the mix as they landed one of the last 2012 Top 100 recruits left unsigned in Montrezl Harrell. Harrell asked for his release from Virginia Tech when the Hokies fired Seth Greenberg, and now the undersized but rugged power forward — who also was recently named to the US Men’s U-18 national team — will be headed to the Bluegrass State. Considering the depth the Cardinals already boast in the paint, it will be tough for Harrell to crack the rotation and find consistent minutes as a freshman, and the addition also forces Louisville to play the always fun game of musical scholarships, but the late signing is still quite a coup.
  4. Like so many others who cover the conference, we were guilty of doubting Steve Lavin’s ability to recruit talent to St. John’s given the doubts about his long term future with the Red Storm. Well, consider us properly shamed, as not only has Lavin continued to make progress health-wise, but the program’s recruiting continues to flourish under the leadership of their charismatic coach. First, Lavin convinced Jakarr Sampson to recommit, and most recently, Top 100 big man Christopher Obekpa committed too, giving the Red Storm another talented class highlighted by big men. Given the well-publicized transfers, recruiting defeats, and early departures that marked the Red Storm’s season, this recruiting class is huge from a momentum standpoint. With Lavin’s health improving, he is set to return to the bench next season, and it looks like St. John’s has successfully avoided a catastrophe and continues to move in the right direction.
  5. Two Big East teams made news this week thanks to transfer decisions, although the teams made news for opposite reasons. First, former Providence combo guard Gerard Coleman is officially transferring to Gonzaga, where his ability to score and rebound will make a huge impact in Spokane once he sits out a year. It is never a good thing to lose a player of Coleman’s caliber, but the Friars’ backcourt is already so crowded, it at least gives coach Ed Cooley one less headache to worry about. The second transfer involves Huggy Bear and his West Virginia squad, who landed well-traveled forward Matt Humphrey. The 6-foot-5 forward has already made stops at Oregon and Boston College and will be eligible to play immediately because he earned his degree from BC last year. He will have one year of eligibility remaining and after an impact season in Chestnut Hill, Humphrey should give Huggins an experienced and multi-faceted swing player who can step out and knock down the three-pointer as well as defend multiple positions. At the very least it should help the Mountaineers recover from the loss of its Mr. Everything, Kevin Jones.
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Who’s Got Next? Poythress Picks, Carter Commits and More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on November 17th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing or different things you’d like to see, please let us know at

Lead Story: Poythress Picks Kentucky, UK Still Able To Nab Number One Recruiting Class

Poythress Gave UK Fans Hope To Have the Best Recruiting Class In the Country... Again (Daryl Paunil/NRS)

Big Blue Nation Has Reason To Rejoice. Don’t lie Kentucky fans, you were worried about not getting the number one recruiting class for the fourth straight year. You tweeted about it, you posted on message boards about it, you wrote on Facebook about it. But when Class of 2012 small forward Alex Poythress decided to join Big Blue Nation last Thursday, head coach John Calipari kept his 2012 class in the running to be rated as the top collection of talent in the country. The 6’7″, 220-pound wing joins shooting guard Archie Goodwin and center Willie Cauley as Coach Cal’s commitments so far with top senior targets small forward Shabazz Muhammad and power forwards Anthony Bennett and Jarnell Stokes still out there. Poythress had a terrific summer and showed the ability to consistently get to the bucket, finish in traffic and an improved perimeter shot. At times, he’s simply unstoppable when he attacks the rim and he’s able to impact the game in a number of ways whether it’s defense, rebounding or running the floor. He fits in well with Calipari’s system and will thrive with Goodwin and Cauley running the floor with him. At this point, the Wildcats have the second-best recruiting class in the country only behind Arizona’s ridiculous haul of talent but with another commitment or two they could reign supreme for the fourth straight year.

What They’re Saying:

  • Senior standout Robert Upshaw‘s mother, Ceylon Sherman, on her son choosing Kansas State: “It was a close run, he had a lot of great schools, but when it came down to it, him and all of us family just all had Kansas State. For Robert, it was about how much he liked the guys out there. He had chemistry with them.”

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