The Protege

Player of the Week

Jessie Govan, C, Junior, Georgetown Hoyas

Jessie GovanJessie GovanYou would have been hard pressed to tell me before the season that this early, if at all in the year, a Georgetown Hoya would be getting top player honors one week. Jessie Govan is absolutely deserving of the honor, though.

Govan has turned into the best center and big man in the Big East thus far, overshadowing Seton Hall’s Angel Delgado who was the favorite to be the top center coming into this season. Govan is one of the biggest reasons why Georgetown has jumped out to a surprising 8-0 start and is up there right next to Villanova as the only undefeated teams left in the conference. Govan is averaging 20.6 points per game, 13 rebounds per game and is shooting 63.0% from the field. His rebounding average is tied for the best in all of college basketball and his field goal percentage is fifth in the Big East. Six of his eight games this season he has recorded a double-double and he has scored 20 or more points in six games as well. What makes him so dangerous is he can dominate on the boards and wrestle rebounds away, while providing an efficient scoring touch down low and occasionally knocking down an outside jumper.

It would have been hard to find someone to tell you Georgetown and first-year head coach Patrick Ewing would be 8-0 to start and have a legitimate shot of going undefeated into conference play. Ewing likes Govan and has increased his minutes by over 10 a game this season compared to last year. Govan has clearly benefitted from Ewing's presence and is playing like a man among boys. If he carries this over into conference play, Georgetown will be a tough team to put away.

Who’s Hot

Desi Rodriguez, F, Senior, Seton Hall Pirates

While Govan may be the best big man so far in the Big East, Seton Hall still has the best front court in the conference with Rodriguez and Delgado. Rodriguez has been sizzling this season and has Seton Hall sitting pretty at 9-1 and No. 15 in the country.

He’s averaging 19.4 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game and shoots very efficiently at a 55.2 field goal clip and 38.3 three-point percentage. Him and Delgado do work down low, but Rodriguez is tough to matchup with because he isn’t super big at 6’6” and can stretch the floor with his shot. He has come up huge in December, including a 29-point performance on the road at No. 17 ranked Louisville in the Pirates 79-77 win. Seton Hall is hot right now and Rodriguez is a huge reason why.

Kelan Martin, F, Senior, Butler Bulldogs

Martin was on the “Who’s Not” list earlier in the season, but he and Butler have rebounded and are back on track. Martin was pegged to be the Bulldogs star this season and he has been. He is averaging 17.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. His outside shooting still has some ways to go (just 18/72 from three thus far on the year), but the team is playing much better. They have five straight wins currently, including big wins over Ohio State and Utah. Martin poured in 29 points and 11 rebounds against the Utes and 24 points against the Buckeyes, including the game winning layup in overtime with 3.8 seconds left. Butler is cruising now at 8-2 and playing good basketball.

Who’s Not

Providence Friars

The Friars and head coach Ed Cooley are still right there in the thick of the Big East race at 7-3 so them being here doesn’t mean they are a total disaster. However, Providence has lost two of their last three and in major team statistics, they are not making the cut. Those two losses have come to close rivals in Rhode Island and UMass. Kyron Cartwright, supposed to be a key guard this season for the Friars, has been dealing with injuries and his play has suffered. Against Rhode Island, Cartwright had just two points and four assists and against UMass, he had just five points. Rodney Bullock has been the leading scorer this season as expected, but his shot has gone cold in December, shooting just 37.8% from the field in the year’s final month. What makes matters worse for Providence is that multiple other Big East teams are playing unexpectedly well and could threaten the Friars in the Big East. St. John’s, Creighton and Georgetown look like competitors to Providence and Cooley needs to get his team’s woes figured out before conference play starts.

Freshman of the Week

Omari Spellman, F, Freshman, Villanova Wildcats

The first Freshman of the Week honors this season go to one of the top freshman in the Big East. Omari Spellman was a highly touted recruit last season when he chose Villanova, but he had to sit out last year for academic reasons. Now he is back and playing great for the Wildcats. He has become a big presence down low for Nova and their guard heavy team. He is averaging 10.6 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game and is second in the conference with 1.6 blocks per game. He had his best game Wednesday against Temple, going for 27 points, eight rebounds and four three-pointers. He has a solid ability to score in the post, clean the glass and stretch the floor with an impressive outside shot (14 made threes). Nova hasn’t had many elite big men over the Jay Wright years, but this year they have a nice piece in Spellman.

Top Five Big East Coaches

1. Jay Wright

No explaination needed. His coaching tenure for Nova goes back to 2001, and he has two Final Four appearances and a National Championship. He’s widely regarded as one of the top coaches in all of college basketball. Until he retires, he won’t be going anywhere from the top spot here.

2. Chris Mack

At the helm of Xavier, he has led the Musketeers to the NCAA Tournament in seven of his previous eight coached seasons, including all the way to the Elite Eight last season. He has 194 accumulated wins at Xavier and has a very talented team this season that looks like they cam compete with anyone. Xavier should always compete in the Big East with Mack at the helm.

3. Greg McDermott

McDermott has been at the helm of Creighton since 2010 and has been greatly successful there, before and after their move to the Big East. He has 450 total wins coaching in his career, 173 of them coming at Creighton. He has led the Bluejays to the Big Dance four times and even when his teams are supposed to have down years, like this year, he has them playing well.

4. Kevin Willard

Willard has been at Seton Hall since 2010 and led the Pirates to the postseason twice, each of the past two seasons. He has yet to win a postseason tournament game, but he has been one the hottest coaches over the last two seasons. He has started to recruit well and his teams over the last couple years have been putting it together and his team this year is off to a great start. He should have the experience and talent around him to lead Seton Hall far this year.

5. Ed Cooley

Cooley has led Providence since 2011 and done a nice job. He has 130 wins there and an over .600 winning percentage. He’s been to the NCAA Tournament each of the last four seasons and he gets a team on the floor each season to compete in the Big East.