As always it was an eventual season in the Big East this season with teams all across the board dealing with the negative side effects of COVID-19. Saint John’s was a big surprise this season finishing fourth in the Big East even with the departure of L.J. Figueroa who now plays for Oregon. Georgetown finished the season hot winning the Big East championship.
Villanova had a rough end to their season losing in their first game of the Big East playoffs. Their star point guard Collin Gillespie suffered a season ending injury. Creighton suspended head coach Greg McDermott after he made a racist remark. The Big East tournament featured several big upsets, the biggest being Georgetown over Villanova. Going into March Madness, UConn, Creighton, Georgetown and Villanova are all locks to make the tournament with Saint John’s, Seton Hall and Xavier all being on the bubble.
Player of the Year:
Sandro Mamukelashili (Seton Hall)
What a year for the 6’11’ senior from Tbilisi Georgia. Seton Hall had several highs and lows this season, but could always count on him to bring his A game. He finished the season averaging 17.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. His biggest game came against in their first outing against Saint John’s. He scored career high 32 points, pushing the Pirates towards a victory. Other notable games include a 30-point performance against Penn State, 23 points against Villanova and 25 points against DePaul.
Freshman of the Year:
Dawson Garcia (Marquette)
Although Marquette finished near the bottom of the Big East, they still had some big wins this season. Garcia was a big factor for these wins, leading the team in scoring and rebounding this season as a freshman. That surely deserves the freshman of the year award. He had five double doubles and six 20+ point performances. He has a promising future on this young Marquette team.
Coach of the Year:
Mike Anderson (Saint John’s)
After being hired in 2019, Coach Anderson took his team that finished with a 5-13 record in the Big East, too a 10-9 record in the 2020-2021 season. Finishing fourth in the Big East, Saint John’s had several big wins over No. 3 Villanova and No. 23 UConn. Their freshman guard Posh Alexander made an immediate impact, leading the Big East in steals at 2.6 steals per game. Coach Anderson’s full court press was extremely efficient forcing many turnovers. The Red Storm also led the Big East in scoring averaging 79.3 points per game.
Zach Freemantle (Xavier)
Xavier’s success this season was backed by the efforts of Zach Freemantle. He has improved a lot from last season. Experts were anticipating Xavier to finish as well as they did since they lost their two leading scorers from the previous season. Freemantle led the Musketeers in scoring and rebounding at 16.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.
Bryce Aiken (Seton Hall)
Expectations were high for the Pirates this season with Harvard transfer Bryce Aiken being added to the roster. He did deal with some injuries this season, but he didn’t seem to be the same player he was at Harvard. He only averaged 5.9 points per game this season after averaging 16.8 at Harvard. He did have one big performance against Creighton in which he scored 21 points, but other than that he didn’t live up to the hype.
Top 5 Big East Prospects
#1 James Bouknight (UConn)
Bouknight caught the eyes of NBA scouts when he scored 40 points in their first matchup against Creighton this season. He has the ability to score anywhere around the court with ease. He is extremely athletic and is solid at finishing around the rim. His biggest problems are that he can be a streaker shooter. When he is hot, he is unguardable, which was noticeable in his game against Creighton.
#2 David Duke (Providence)
Standing at 6’5” weighing 205 pounds, Duke has a solid build for the NBA. He led the friars in scoring this season at 16.8 points per game. He is a great shooter from deep and is a great passer. He had three 30+ point performances this season, one of which came against and Overtime thriller vs Marquette. Duke also had four double double’s which is impressive for a guard.
#3 Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Villanova)
Villanova top players have been a hot commodity in recent NBA drafts. Last year it was Saddiq Bey and this year Robinson-Earl is making the most noise. NBA scouts love players that come out of Jay Wright’s system because they are all fundamentally sound players. Robinson-Earl has an elite mid-ranged jumper and is quick for his size. His high basketball IQ will make a case for him to potentially be drafted in the first round.
#4 Sandro Mamukelashvili (Seton Hall)
The Big East player of the year deserves to be on this list. He is a big guy who can shoot the ball from deep. What more could you ask for in today’s NBA playstyle? He handles the ball like a point-guard, and he is extremely crafty. His combination of outside scoring and driving ability makes him tough to guard. He should be drafted somewhere in the second round.
#5 Julian Champagnie (Saint John’s)
After being selected for the Big East All-Freshman Team, Champagnie has elevated his game to becoming the leading scorer in the Big East this season. He averaged 19.8 points per game and recorded his career high 33 points against Creighton. Standing at 6’8, Champagnie makes a great prospect for the NBA being able to hit the three from deep and being able to finish around the rim.
Big East Power Rankings
1. #17 Creighton Bluejays, 20-7 (14-6 Big East)
2. UConn Huskies, 15-7 (11-6 Big East)
3. #14 Villanova Wildcats, 16-6 (11-4 Big East)
4. Seton Hall Pirates, 14-13 (10-9 Big East)
5. Saint John’s Red Storm, 16-11 (10-9 Big East)
6. Xavier Musketeers, 13-8 (6-7 Big East)
7. Georgetown Hoyas, 12-12 (7-9 Big East)
8. Providence Friars, 13-13 (9-10 Big East)
9. Marquette Golden Eagles, 13-14 (8-11 Big East)
10. Butler Bulldogs, 10-15 (8-12 Big East)
11. DePaul Blue Demons, 5-14 (2-13 Big East)