Big East Breakout Soph
Player of the Week
Tyler Harris, Providence The sophomore has shown in the last week why he has been a projected future first round NBA draft pick recently. Although the Friars fell to No. 23 UMass on Dec. 28, Harris played one of his best all-around games of the year, scoring 16 points to go along with nine rebounds, five assists, and three steals. With good size at 6’9, the New Jersey native can play both inside and on the perimeter, and is capable of affecting various dimensions of the game, evident by his performance against the Minutemen.
Harris put on a strong offensive performance in Providence’s next game, and despite another loss, he finished with 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting. The forward was once again a force on the boards, grabbing nine rebounds against Seton Hall on Dec. 31. He will assume a bigger responsibility in future seasons with the announcement that forward Brandon Austin (a top 50 recruit) is leaving the school.
Bryce Cotton, Providence The Providence Friars may have dropped two overtime games last week, but not because of the efforts of guard Bryce Cotton. The senior played over 45 minutes against both No. 23 UMass and Seton Hall and put on an offensive show in both contests. Against the Minutemen on Dec. 28, the guard shot 8-for-18 from the field and finished with a game-high 24 points in a 69-67 loss. Cotton also finished with five rebounds and five assists in the game.
Providence once again played extra minutes in their next game against the Pirates on Dec. 31, except this one took two overtimes to determine a victor. Cotton was stellar in the team’s Big East opener, finishing with 25 points against Seton Hall, going 8-for-17 from the field. He also grabbed three rebounds and dished out five assists in the 81-80 loss.
Jahenns Manigat, Creighton While he’s not a household name like his Creighton counterpart Doug McDermott, Manigat had an exceptional week as the Bluejays went 2-0. The senior guard shot 5-for-7 from the field against Chicago State in a Dec. 29 win, finishing with 15 points, well over his seven-point average. He also grabbed four rebounds. In the team’s Big East opener against Marquette on Dec. 31, Manigat once again shot well from the field, going 6-of-12 for 16 points, with four of those baskets coming from behind the arc. The Canadian also grabbed six rebounds and handed out six assists in the 69-47 win.
Cleveland Melvin. DePaul Following three straight games with at least 18 points, including a 28-point performance against Houston Baptist on Dec. 18, the DePaul forward has struggled in his last three contests. Against crosstown rival Northwestern on Dec. 27, Melvin managed just 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting in 29 minutes on the court. The Baltimore native managed to only get to the free throw line four times, and only converted one of his opportunities.
In the team’s conference opener versus Georgetown on Dec. 31, the senior finished with just six points in the 61-54 loss. As Oliver Purnell’s team continues to look to make an impact in the Big East, Melvin will be relied on to finish better than his 2-for-12 shooting against the Hoyas. He also grabbed just three rebounds in the defeat.
Kadeem Batts, Providence As Providence struggled in the last week, so did guard Kadeem Batts. In two losses, the senior had difficulties converting his offensive chances, shooting under 30 percent against both UMass and Seton Hall. Against the Minutemen, Batts was 4-for-14 from the field, finishing with nine points in the overtime loss. He once again struggled to find his shot against Seton Hall in their Dec. 31, going 1-of-8 and scoring just six points in the double overtime loss. The Georgia native finished under his average of 12 points and seven rebounds in both games, and will need to improve as the Pirates begin conference play.
Top 5 Disappointments so far this season
1. Marquette – Pegged as the conference’s premier team in preseason coaches’ polls, the Golden Eagles have struggled mightily in the first half of this season. As the new Big East enters 2014, Marquette currently sit at 8-6 , tied with DePaul for the worst record out of the conference’s 10 teams. While they scheduled several strong out-of-conference foes to begin the year, Marquette suffered a blowout loss to open conference play, falling 67-49 to Creighton on Dec. 31.
2. Ryan Arcidiacono – Following a rookie campaign in which he averaged nearly 12 points per game, the sophomore has struggled to live up to the second-team All Big East preseason team expectations. Arcidiacono is not playing bad for the 12-1 Wildcats, but he has yet to increase on his numbers and play from 2012-2013.
3. Semaj Christon – Entering this year as a projected first round draft selection, Christon has yet to live up to the billing as one of the conference’s, yet alone nation’s, top players. Christon has seen his scoring, assist, and shooting numbers decrease in his sophomore year, while many saw him as one of the Big East’s premier points guards, evident by his preseason all-conference selection.
4. Kadeem Batts – Another player that has been unable to replicate his numbers from last season is the Providence senior. After averaging 14.8 points on 48 percent shooting last year, Batts is struggling in his senior campaign, putting up just 12 points on 41 percent shooting per contest in 2013.
5. Greg Whittington – While the forward never saw action for Georgetown this season, he has to be deemed a disappointment following his fall from grace after a strong start to last season. Whittington averaged 12 points and seven rebounds in the Hoyas’ first 13 games in 2012 before being ruled academically ineligible. This summer, he then suffered a torn ACL, before culminating his basketball career under John Thompson III by announcing he would transfer in early December.