Player of the Week
CJ Fair, Syracuse
The smooth southpaw has been ultra-consistent for most of the season, and has now scored in double figures in 12 straight contests. He didn’t alter course this week. Fair scored 20 points in a defeat at Pittsburgh and scored 18 points and grabbed 10 boards (sixth double-digit rebound effort) in a home victory over Notre Dame. He connected on 14/23 field goals (61%) in the two games. The mid-range master continues to expand his range knocking down 3 three-pointers in 7 attempts. Fair doesn’t always show ideal awareness in the zone defense, but his length and activity often cover up errors in judgment—as buttressed by his 6 steals and 2 blocks. Fair has now played at least 40 minutes in five straight games. Triche and Carter-Williams are playmakers, but Fair is the security blanket for the Orange. The likely 4-year player should be rewarded with a first-round selection in 2014.
JaKarr Sampson, St. John’s
Everything about Steve Lavin’s crew screams chaos, and often times, outright disorganization. Despite that, the Johnnies currently sit in a solid position in the Big East standings at 7-4, and the growth of Sampson has been paramount. The freshman averaged 18 points, 7 rebounds, a steal and a block (1.2 on season) in battles with Georgetown and Connecticut, converting on 46% of his field goals and 10/13 free throws. Shot selection and speed of play are very much a work in progress, but there’s no denying that he feels more comfortable with his short and intermediate jumpers. Much like Mo Harkless last year, Sampson is grabbing the attention of NBA scouts and could be one-and-done.
Jack Cooley, Notre Dame
There’s nothing beautiful about it, and his limitations are clear to see, but Cooley is an absolute double-double machine. He went for 26, 16 and 3 blocks in an OT win at Depaul, followed up with 10, 11 and 3 blocks in a loss at Syracuse. His brute force earned him 15 trips to the free throw line and the post position for point blank looks (13/21). Cooley has corralled 10+ boards in six straight at just shy of 13 per game. A lock for a Portsmouth invite come April, the senior could play his way into a late 2nd round selection.
Fuquan Edwin, Seton Hall
With little help to speak of on the floundering Pirates, Edwin continues to play his tail off. In fact, the Paterson Catholic product is questionable for Sunday’s game versus UCONN with a sprained ankle. In defeats vs. Cincinnati and at Pittsburgh he scored 19.5 per, including 5 three-point makes and 15 free throw attempts (10 makes). Second in the conference in steals at 2.5 per game, Edwin swiped 5 against Pitt. His shooting percentages are low and turnover totals high because he’s not a creator of offense, yet he often finds himself with the ball forced to bail out teammates. He’s developed into a reliable spot up shooter and finishes in transition at 6’6; those are his strengths.
Anthony Collins, South Florida
“Cut off the head, and the body will die”. The Bulls maestro isn’t afforded much freedom to operate these days, particularly against long, athletic defenses. Over his last three games (Marquette twice & Connecticut) Collins has 11 assists against 13 turnovers, a far cry from his season ratio of 2.5: 1. He’s also made just 5/21 shots and doesn’t have a single theft (1.5 on season). The remaining schedule for USF is brutal with games at Villanova, at Pittsburgh, at Cincinnati and home to Louisville.
LaDontae Henton, Providence
Where to begin? In Providence’s tremendous victories over Villanova and Cincinnati this week, Henton scored a combined six points, committed 7 turnovers and fouled out in less than 20 minutes of PT in both games. He hasn’t shot above 50% in a game since December 28th. Since that date eleven games ago, he’s 29/102 from the floor, ‘good’ for 28%. Fortunately for the Friars, he’s a highly productive offensive rebounder. He owes his team possessions.
Top 5: Distance Shooters
1. Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati- Kilpatrick hoists three’s like they’re going out of style. While his percentage isn’t particularly appealing (34%), no one in the conference has effortless range like the Bearcat two-guard.
2. Shabazz Napier, Connecticut- Also blessed with tremendous deep range, Napier is effective both off the dribble and in catch-and-shoot situations. He’s shooting 40% with 49 makes.
3. Bryce Cotton, Providence- Cotton’s release is highly unorthodox, but more importantly, the results are highly effective. The Big East scoring leader has connected on 69 treys, making over three per game.
4. DAngelo Harrison, St. John’s- Harrison compensates for a low release point with an exceedingly quick trigger. Too confident in his range capabilities, however, resulting in 32% accuracy.
5. Tray Woodall, Pittsburgh- The 5th year senior has dramatically improved his 3-point stroke over the course of his collegiate career. Shooting 37%, Woodall showed off his range in the final minutes at Louisville, which I’m sure the recreational gamblers among us remember quite well.
·Steven Adams grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds (6 offensive) in a 56-46 victory over Seton Hall.
·Aaron Cosby (12 PPG) is expected to return on Sunday for Seton Hall after missing the prior game for personal reasons.
·Nate Lubick recorded his first career double-double versus St. Johns, scoring 18 points on 8/10 field goals with 10 boards, 4 assists, 2 blocks and a steal.
·As a team, Connecticut shot a composite 30% (37/112) in games against South Florida and SJU. In those two games the Huskies attempted 55 three-pointers.
·Villanova sophomore guard Darrun Hilliard has surpassed double-digit scoring in seven consecutive games (16 PPG).
·Josh Fortune drained all 5 of his three-point attempts in a W at Villanova. Entering that contest he had one make over a five-game span.
·Connecticut freshman Omar Calhoun also hit a career-high 5 treys in 12 attempts at MSG on Wednesday night.
·Rutgers lead guard Myles Mack has not dished out an assist in either of his last two games (6 turnovers).
Follow me on twitter for Big East and national insight @AdamGaneles