Player of the Week
Truck has been brilliant as of late, scoring at least 25 points in three of West Virginia's last four games (prior to UConn). He's been instrumental in the team's success, acting as a true veteran lead guard who could be counted on for needed production. In the three games that Bryant scored 25, 29 and 34, West Virginia beat Georgetown, Rutgers and Villanova respectively, all in convincing fashion. He's been a terror off the dribble, even getting to the line an impressive 35 times in the past four games.
With Bryant playing at a high level, West Virginia is really one of the better teams in the conference. Veteran groups who can rebound, defend and get scoring production from their guards are excellent Cinderella candidates come March. Look out for the Mountaineers.
He's averaging 21 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game over his last five, playing more aggressive following the departure of Nurideen Lindsey. Harrison is fun to watch because of his energy and ability to score, and has emerged as St. John's go-to guy on offense.
Why is Wayns stock dropping? He failed to record an assist in Villanova's embarrassing loss to South Florida. Sunday he finished with 3 assists and 6 turnovers against DePaul. If he doesn't improve his efficiency as a facilitator, there won't be many suitors for the ultra-quick yet frustrating point guard.
Top Five Freshmen
1. Andre Drummond
Visions of his potential have begun to flash, as Drummond is adjusting to his positioning on the floor. If given just a few inches of room, he'll use his explosiveness to launch himself at the rim, elevating high above the cylinder and throwing down with unstoppable power. He's using his body under the boards and making his presence know defensively, altering shots at the rim and swatting others. With a soft touch, quick feet and ideal physical tools, Drummond has the chance to become the most dominant interior force in the country. He scored 20 points on 9-11 in a good comeback win against West Virginia, while grabbing 11 boards and blocking 3 shots. Look for him to continue to improve with every game.
Player of the Week:
Eli Carter, G, Rutgers
Carter gets the nod based solely off his performance against Florida, where he lead his 9-point underdog Scarlett Knights in a double OT win over 10 ranked Florida. It was a gutsy effort by Carter, who lit up the Gators for 31 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and only 2 turnovers in 46 hard fought minutes. Carter was prolific off the dribble, making plays both for himself and his teammates. He stepped up and drained a game-tying three in the closing seconds of the first overtime, and has emerged as Rutgers' top scoring threat in his freshman year. He followed his career best game against Florida with a 23 point, 5 steal line in a loss to South Florida.
Jerian Grant, 6'5 G, Notre Dame
Prospect alert. He showed true pro potential in his 15 point, 9 assist game against Pittsburgh, posing as a 6'5 combo guard who can beat you off the dribble or stroke it from deep. With good length, size, range and versatility, Grant has emerged as one of the budding prospects in the conference.
Fab Melo 7'0 C, Syracuse
Melo put up a 12 point, 10 block 7 rebound game against Seton Hall, and finished with 12 points, 6 blocks and 5 boards against DePaul. It's amazing what one year of adjusting and conditioning can do for a 7 foot defensive game changer. He's the anchor of one of the most devastating and swarming defenses in all of college basketball.
Sean Kilpatrick 6'4 G, Cincinnati
He's hit at least four three-pointers in three consecutive games, including five in Cincy's three-point win over Pittsburgh. Cincy has been tough since the brawl, and Kilpatrick's emergence as a first or second option is a large reason why.
Russ Smith 6'0 G, Louisville
He's averaging 20 a game on almost 15 shot attempts over his last five games. He plays 150 miles per hour, and generally is forced to considering his teammates' inability to create themselves. If down 1 with 10 seconds, Russ should get the call for Louisville.
Mo Harkless 6'8 F, St. Johns
He went for 32 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks in a blowout over Providence. Harkless' length, athleticism, activity level and ability to be effective without having to demand the ball extend the list of potential suitors for him at the next level.
Jeremy Lamb 6'5 SG, UConn
18 for his last 33 from downtown (54%). Keep letting them fly my man. Lamb has first overall pick potential with star-like qualities based on his overall package. He just has to assert himself and gain the mentality of a high volume scorer.
Player of the Week:
Kevin Jones 6'8 PF, West Virginia
What a turnaround for Jones, who underachieved as a junior despite having the table set for him with the departure of Devin Ebanks and Da’Sean Butler.
Averaging just a shade under 23 points and 13 rebounds over his last four games, Jones has been connecting on all cylinders, both as a scorer and on the glass. He’s settling for less jumpers, while simultaneously increasing his efficiency on the perimeter in the process.
Jones finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds and 1 turnover in a hard fought overtime loss to a much more talented Baylor team last week. He’s put his name in the running for conference player of the year as we approach league play, currently leading the Big East in scoring at 21 per game.
Last four games: 26 points, 6 assists… 14 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds… 16 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds… 14 points, 4 assists… 11 points, 11 assists. Theo has increased his assist average by 3 as a senior, and currently leads the Big East in dishing at over 7 a game.
Shadily a great year for Young, who’s averaging 18 points and 5.7 assists over his last four. Young gets to dominate the ball for DePaul, and has put up impressive numbers as a result.
Player of the Week:
Dion Waiters 6'4 G, Syracuse
Waiters has taken his game to the next level, scoring 19 in a blowout over GW and 22 in a potential trap game at NC State. When he gets going he's really fun to watch, bobbing and weaving between defenders and exploding through the tiniest of openings. He took over the game against NC State, converting at the rim and out to 26 feet away.
Waiters is your classic combo-guard, who can beat his defender off the dribble or spot up off the ball on the perimeter. He's a good ball-handler and a willing passer, and should be capable of handling point guard responsibilities throughout stretches of a game. He's creeping up our draft board, and should begin to generate some more buzz as the most prolific scoring guard on the top team in the country.
Herb Pope 6'8 PF, Seton Hall
He's scored at least 23 points in 4 consecutive games, including a 17 rebound game in a win over Mercer and a 14 rebound game in a win against Wake Forest. Pope is this year's Marshon Brooks, having a monster breakout season in his senior year. He's averaging 22 and 11 through 10 games.
The 3-ball is starting to fall. He's made 8 from behind the arch in his past two games, in which he scored 20 and 16 back to back. With Yancy Gates out, Kilpatrick has seen his role increase within the offense.
Bryce Cotton, 6'1 G, Providence
Cotton dropped 34 on Saturday, shooting 11-16 from the floor and 10-10 from the line. He's come out of nowhere to become one of the Friar's most dynamic offensive players.
Moe Harkless 6'8 F, St. Johns
Three consecutive double-doubles for the rook. Easily St. John's most promising freshman prospect.
Player of the Week
Jones put up 30 points and 12 rebounds in a win over Kansas State, including the game-tying three-pointer in the closing seconds to send the game into overtime.
Jones looks lighter on his feet this year, doing a much better job under the boards and elevating on his jumper. Even his three with 12 tics left showed improvement, where he used a jab step to create separation before rising and firing over his defender.
He's made huge strides as a senior, improving his scoring and rebounding numbers by an incredible margin despite playing similar minutes (13ppg and 7rpg previous 2 seasons, 20 and 11.4 this season). Still, he could really improve on his efficiency by resisting the urge to drift out to the perimeter, where the 6'8 260 pounder shoots 23% on 4.3 three-point attempts her game. If he could establish himself as a legitimate pick and pop option and an active body in the paint, Jones can provide desirable services off an NBA bench.
Herb Pope 6'8 PF, Seton Hal
Pope has emerged as a scoring machine, averaging 24 points per game over his last 3. He's become more of a threat offensively, expanding his game out to almost 20 feet from the rim. He currently leads the Big East in scoring while averaging a double double.
Cleveland Melvin 6'7 DePaul, SF
He went for 30 against Chicago State. Melvin has a tendency to explode, going for at least 25 points three times already this season.
Nasir Robinson 6'9 PF, Pitt
Nas is averaging 16 and 10 over his last 3. He'd get more recognition if he showed up on a more consistent basis. He's really solid player when he's on.
Player of the Week
Darius Johnson Odom
He's simply been the man for one of most dangerous teams in the country. DJO scored a season low and a team high 17 points in a bold win at Wisconsin, knocking down big-time shots in baller fashion. Johnson-Odom showed off his pretty step back jumper, an attractive asset to have when it comes to evaluating prospects. His ability to score off the dribble and excel as a spot up shooter help offset some of the concerns over his size and lack of position. He's been a model of consistency, averaging 19.8 points on 57% shooting from the floor and 46% from downtown. With Marquette quietly playing some of the best ball in the country, DJO should see a rise in national press as one of the more gifted seniors in the game.
Mouphtaou Yarou F/C, Villanova
21 and 11 against Penn, 19 and 7 against Santa Clara. Key Stat: 19 free throw attempts between both games. Good sign of improvement.
Ryan Boatright PG, UConn
Boatright was the difference maker in Connecticut's win over Arkansas, finishing with 23 points, 6 assists and 5 boards. Boatright made plays as a facilitator in the half court and in transition, and proved effective splitting the D and shooting from outside.
Hollis Thompson SF, Georgetown
Thompson drilled a 3 off a dribble-handoff from 25 feet out to beat Alabama. He's averaging 17 a game over his last 3, shooting 10-17 (58%) from downtown. Thompson's range and stroke to go along with his ideal length for a 3 make him a compelling prospect.
Player of the Week
Maalik Wayns PG, Villanova
Man does he look quick. Wayns has been impossible to keep out of the paint, using that quick first step off the dribble and rock solid strength at the rim. It's amazing to think that a 6'1 guard can score 29 points on only 1 three point make, but that's what Wayns did in a loss to St. Louis (thanks to his team's inability to defend the 3). His ability to change direction on the dime with speed in the open floor will allow him to succeed as a change of pace guard at the next level. If he raises his percentage from downtown and increases his range, Wayns would be a threat to crack the lottery.
He's averaging 22 points, 5 assists and 4.5 rebounds as a junior, and should be considered a viable candidate for Big East Player of the Year.
Jason Clark, G, Georgetown
26 and 28 points back to back. 10 for his last 14 from downtown. The rim must look like a hula hoop to Clark.
Gerard Coleman SG, Providence
He scored 20 in consecutive games. I'd say that's noteworthy considering he's coming off the bench. He also attempted 18 free throws against Southern U. Pretty impressive.
Herb Pope PF Seton Hall
Pope's been on a tear this year, going for 32 and 9, (2-2 from 3), and 17 and 10 this week. He looks lighter on his feet around the rim, and has shown he's capable of scoring outside the paint. He's averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds, all-star numbers for the big fella.
Kevin Jones PF West Virginia
29 and 13, followed by 23 and 10. Again, when those 3s and midrange jumpers are falling, Jones looks the part of an NBA player. The rebounding numbers are even more promising.
The sophomore duo has been lighting it up. 24 and 23 points respectively this week for Young, 25 and 20 for Melvin. If he keeps putting up numbers, Melvin could generate some buzz based off his ideal length and athleticism for a 3.
Player of the Week
Cheek is averaging 22 and 6 to start the year, and though the sample size is small, he's seemed to establish himself as the team's primary scoring option. Cheek's skill-set ranges from shooter to slasher, illustrating qualities that make him an effective scoring off-ball guard. He's playing almost 35 minutes a game as compared to last year's 20, thanks to a shallow rotation lacking shotmakers. He's seen his shot attempts double, and should continue getting open looks alongside Wayns and Yarou. He's a good bet to take home the Big East most improved player award.
Wayns looks sharp, knocking down three pointers we didn't see fall in past seasons. He's scoring 19 a game, grabbing 5 boards and dishing out 4.7 assists, and will continue to be the engine that fuels the Wildcat offense.
Think about this: Yarou scored at least 17 points only twice last season. This season he's averaging that through three games, along with almost 10 boards per game. Yarou has NBA potential based off his physical attributes alone. If he could figure out how to use them, he'll be hearing his name mispronounced on national television more frequently.
Darius Johnson Odom
DJO should drop 20 a game this year, with the green light that allows him to dominate the ball. As he should. Guards who can score off the dribble with the ability to convert at the rim, midrange and downtown are always a threat to light up the scoreboard. He's currently scoring 20 a game, shooting 47% from 3.
Have to say I didn't see this one coming. Woodall looks like a completely different guy, exuding confidence that has translated to into positive production. Tra has been spraying the box scores, averaging 19 points, 19 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds and a remarkable 57% clip from downtown. While his shooting percentages are likely to drop, his minutes won't.
Southerland has played himself into the rotation, giving the Orange the deep threat they were missing from their near perfectly balanced roster. He could be the smoothest shooter in the conference, sporting an effortless stroke in catch and release situations. Hes currently 8-11 from behind the arch this year (72%), and remains the conference's leading candidate to win "oldest looking player" award.
Waiters could probably start on any team in the conference, but thanks to the deepest rotation known to man, he's relegated to providing a punch off the bench. He's a natural scoring guard with great instincts, flashing quickness, point guard ball-handling skills and comfortable shooting range. He's averaging over 13 points and 4 assists in only 20 minutes through 4 games.
Big East Player of the Year Prediction: Jeremy Lamb
His spaghetti arms look chiseled, and his game is more complete. Dribble-dribble step back jumpers mixed with explosive takes to the rack, Lamb has put together a package that offers primary scoring tools. He scored 30 in Connecticut's opener, shooting 11-17 on 5-8 from behind the arch. Lamb and UNC's Harrison Barnes are the best perimeter forwards in the country, and should both be in contention for the prestigious National Player of the Year award.
If you didn't catch the opener, you didn't catch this... Jeremy Lamb Goes Airborne
God'sgift Achiuwa, 6'8 PF, St. Johns
He didn't miss a shot in the opener, going 6-6 from the field and 9-9 from the stripe. He showed impressive rebounding abilities, and should give St. Johns a true interior presence they otherwise wouldn't have.
Eric Atkins, 6'1 PG, Notre Dame
Atkins scored a career high 27 in Notre Dame's first game, showing impressive quickness and a cleaner stroke from outside. The Irish will need someone else to step up alongside Abromaitis, so this surge is a good sign.
Travon Woodall, 5'11 PG, Pittsburgh
Tra dropped 25 points and 10 assists on Albany Friday night, showing a thorough combination of playmaking and scoring. Woodall will have a more full-time role in the backcourt this season, and should allow Ashton Gibbs to play off the ball where he's more effective.
Dominic Cheek, 6'6 SG, Villanova
Cheek took advantage of his playing time, hoisting up 15 shots and converting on 9. He scored 27 points, hitting five 3 pointers. Cheek should continue to get double digit shot attempts in an offense that's missing a go-to guy.
Player of the Week
The most valuable player from the Big East tournament was guard Kemba Walker, who helped Connecticut knock off four top 20 teams in five days. Walker, who averaged 26 points throughout the week, put on arguably the most impressive stretch of performances this tournament has ever seen, tantalizing opponents with a team strapped on his back. It truly looked as if the Huskies were playing with an NBA player, as he torched opposing defenses despite being targeted like he was Jason Bourne. His game-winner against Pittsburgh was legendary, seemingly tying Gary McGhee's shoelaces together with his mind before electrifying the Garden crowd with a picturesque step back jumper.
First Team All-Big East
Kemba Walker, G, UConn
He was great in Maui to start the year, he was great in New York City to end it. No player has had a bigger impact toward his team's success than Walker, who became the team's leader and go-to scorer from game one of the season. Walker's 23.5 points, 4 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals per game doesn't quite tell the whole story, but will no doubt earn him votes for National Player of the Year.
Ben Hansbrough, G, Notre Dame
The Big East player of the year had a memorable senior season, averaging 18.5 on 44% shooting from downtown. With his strong late play down the stretch, he's put himself in the draft day conversation. One of the toughest players in the country, he'll have plenty of eyes watching him over the next week or two, or three.
Marshon Brooks, SG, Providence
Brooks came out of nowhere to average 24.8 points and 7 rebounds per game, finishing second in the nation in scoring. It wasn't until he scored 52 points against Notre Dame that his name would make headlines, but if you followed him throughout the season you'd know how spectacular he was on a nightly basis against the most elite competition.
Ashton Gibbs, G, Pittsburgh
Gibbs' steady play all season was a primary reason for Pittsburgh's season-long stay atop the rankings. He averaged 16.7 points per game on an eye-popping 48% from downtown.
Dwight Hardy, G, St. Johns
Also named the conference's most improved player, Hardy's rise from inconspicuous to featured was exciting to watch. His 26 point effort in a win over Duke at the Garden seemed to have started the run, one that followed with a 33 point game in a win over Connecticut, a 28 point game in a win at Marquette and a 34 point game in a win at Villanova. Hardy finished the year averaging 18 points per game.