Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
The Big East Rookie of the Year race is turning into a photo finish.
Brooklyn’s Lance Stephenson of Cincinnati was named the Preseason Rookie of the Year by the coaches and many expected “Born Ready” to run away with the postseason honors.
But Rutgers’ freshman forward Dane Miller and Villanova freshman guard Maalik Wayns may have something to say about it.
The 6-foot-7 Miller won his second straight Rookie of the Week honors Monday after averaging 11.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists for the week.
Miller had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds in the upset of then-No. 7 Georgetown Sunday, shooting 5 of 9 with 4 assists and 2 blocks. Miller had an offensive rebound and tip-in with 19 seconds remaining to provide RU a 67-66 lead it never relinquished. He also hit a pair of clutch free throws with 10 seconds on the clock. Miller had 10 points, three steals and four rebounds in 70-62 win over Caldwell on Tuesday.
Rutgers coach Fred Hill argues Miller should win Rookie of the Year honors.
“I don’t think he has to prove it to me, I think he has to prove it everyone else,” Hill said Sunday. “He’s a guy as a freshman who keeps getting better and better. Tonight was one of his better defensive games. He works very hard, he’s a great student of the game.”
Miller is averaging 12.5 points-per-game in league contests to leads all Big East rookies in scoring in conference games. He’s also averaging 6.3 boards and 2.8 assists.
The 6-5 Stephenson is averaging 12.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists in Big East games.
Wayns, 6-1, is averaging 9.6 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists in conference games.
Between them, the trio has won seven of the 13 Big East Rookie of the Week honors this season. Wayns leads all rookies with three such honors. Stephenson, Miller and Brandon Triche of Syracuse have each won two apiece. Vincent Council of Providence, Alex Oriakhi of UConn and Cashmere Wright of Cincinnati won one each.
Council is second among all players in the league in assists (5.3), while his teammate, freshman Bilal Dixon, is third in blocks (2.08)
“People always ask if me if one of my goals is trying to compete for Big East Rookie of the Year, or any first-team rookie [honors]. Not really,” Miller said. “My main thing is just to come out and win.”
(Photo courtesy Rutgers Athletics)
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.