SNY Big East Preseason Rankings; All-Big East Teams; Top Incoming Recruits (UPDATED) | Zagsblog
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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.
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Friday / June 9.
  • SNY Big East Preseason Rankings; All-Big East Teams; Top Incoming Recruits (UPDATED)

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    EDITOR’S NOTE: This post was updated on June 18 to reflect the news of the torn ACL suffered by Georgetown’s Greg Whittington.***

    This isn’t your father’s Big East Conference.

    The Big East Conference of 2013-14 won’t have traditional Final Four contenders Syracuse and Louisville. The Jimmy and Ricky Show has moved on to a Denny’s somewhere near Greensboro (Rick Pitino will have to wait until Louisville joins the ACC in 2014 for that).

    Six other schools — Cincinnati, UConn, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh Rutgers and USF — are also gone.

    Enter Butler, Creighton and Xavier to the new 10-team Big East that managed to keep the conference name and the postseason tournament at Madison Square Garden when it broke off with the football schools.

    Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know about the new league, including a Preseason Top 10, Preseason All-Big East Team and a list of Recruits to Watch.


    1. MARQUETTE (26-9, 14-4 Big East)

    Outside of Louisville and Syracuse, no Big East team has had more postseason success in recent years than Buzz Williams and Marquette, who finally broke through to the Elite Eight last year, where they lost to Syracuse, 55-39. The Golden Eagles lost Vander Blue, Junior Cadougan and Trent Lockett, but return some experienced and tough pieces in Davante Gardner (11.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg), Jamil Wilson (9.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Todd Mayo (5.3 ppg). Chris Otule (5.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg) received a waiver for a sixth year of eligibility. Watch out for 6-7 sophomore forward Steve Taylor Jr., who is coming off right knee surgery but could emerge as a big-time player. Marquette’s five-man recruiting class is ranked No. 11 overall by, and first in the Big East.

    2. ST. JOHN’S (17-16, 8-10 Big East)

    Coach Steve Lavin has arguably the most talented roster of his four-year tenure and the pressure will be on him and the Johnnies to live up to the hype and help carry the flag for the new Big East without Syracuse, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. Junior guard D’Angelo Harrison, the team’s leading scorer at 17.8 ppg, is expected to work his way back onto the team after being suspended March 1, and all eyes will be on his maturity level. JaKarr Sampson, the reigning Big East Rookie of the Year, also returns with his 14.9 ppg and 6.6 rpg as he attempts to build his NBA profile. Chris Obekpa brings his 4.0 blocks per game back for his sophomore season, and he will be joined up front by Orlando Sanchez, a 6-9 senior forward from the Dominican who was given a waiver to play this season. The Johnnies bring in talented Philly combo guard Rysheed Jordan, who will have to mesh with Harrison in the backcourt for this team to maximize its potential.

    3. GEORGETOWN (25-7, 14-4 Big East)

    The loss of 6-8 forward Greg Whittington (12.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg) to an ACL injury could be a huge blow for the Hoyas, who already lost Otto Porter Jr. to the NBA Draft Lottery. Still, Georgetown returns a solid core, including senior point guard Markel Starks (12.8 ppg, 3.0 apg), sophomore off guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (8.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg), senior forward Nate Lubick (7.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg), junior center Mikael Hopkins (5.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg) and junior guard Jabril Trawick (5.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg). Sophomore forward Stephen Domingo and freshman Reggie Cameron will likely play larger roles in Whittington’s absence. John Thompson III also expects UCLA transfer Josh Smith (5.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg) to suit up, although it is unclear when he will debut.

    4. XAVIER (17-14, 9-7 Atlantic 10)

    Like Butler, Chris Mack and Xavier are making the jump to the Big East from the Atlantic 10 Conference. Sophomore guard Semaj Christon, the team’s leading scorer at 15.2 ppg with 4.6 apg, returns, as does junior guard Dee Davis (8.2 ppg, 3.4 apg) and senior forward Isaiah Philmore (7.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg). The Musketeers also add some nice pieces in 6-10 Matt Stainbrook, who averaged 11.4 ppg and 6.8 rpg at Western Michigan in 2011-12, and 6-8 Aleksandar “Aleks” Vezenkov, a Bulgarian who never signed a pro contract with his Greek pro team. New Jersey sharpshooter Myles Davis, a 6-1 guard, a 6-9 forward Jaylen Reynolds are both eligible after the NCAA declared both ineligible last season.

    5. VILLANOVA (20-14, 10-8 Big East)

    Sophomore point guard Ryan Arcidiacono (11.5 ppg, 3.5 apg) has now been through the Big East blender once around and should also gain some valuable experience this summer playing with the U.S. U19 team. Junior forward JayVaughn Pinkston of Brooklyn (13.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg) has all the tools to become an All-Big East first-team player and this could be his breakout year. The Wildcats also return junior guard Darrun Hilliard (11.4 ppg) and senior guard James Bell (8.6 ppg). Jay Wright’s team adds some nice pieces in Rice transfer Dylan Ennis, who averaged 8.5 ppg and 4.3 rpg two years ago, and incoming 6-5 power forward Kris Jenkins and 6-4 small forward Josh Hart, both ranked in the ESPN 100.

    6. CREIGHTON (28-8, 13-5 Missouri Valley)

    It will be interesting to see how a team from the Missouri Valley adapts to playing in the rough-and-tumble Big East, but the Bluejays may have shown their colors when they eliminated a tough Cincinnati team from the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Duke in the second. Doug McDermott had 27 points and 11 rebounds in the Cincinnati game, and when he opted to remain on campus instead of entering the NBA Draft, he automatically became the Big East Preseason Player of the Year. Aside from McDermott (23.2 pgg, 7.7 rpg), the Bluejays return senior forward Ethan Wragge (7.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg), junior point guard Austin Chatman (7.4 ppg, 4.2 apg and senior guard Jahenns Manigat (5.9 ppg, 2.3 apg). Senior guard Grant Gibbs (8.5 ppg, 5.8 apg) is petitioning the NCAA for an extra year, and 6-2 JUCO guard Devin Brooks of New York is expected to make an impact after averaging 15.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 5.6 apg, 1.8 spg at Iowa Western. Creighton has also stepped up its recruiting efforts in the Northeast with the hiring of former UConn assistant Pat Sellers, and it will be interesting to see if they can land players from Big East territory.

    7. BUTLER (27-9, 11-5 Atlantic 10)

    With the departures of NCAA champion coach Rick Pitino and Jim Boeheim, Butler’s Brad Stevens now takes over as the head man with the most impressive resume. Stevens led the Bulldogs to back-to-back NCAA championship game appearances in 2010 and ’11. It’s hard to imagine one of his team’s finishing in the bottom division of any league, but, hey, somebody will have to. Butler lost some key pieces in Rotnei Clarke and Andrew Smith, their two leading scorers, as well as Chase Stigall. Butler returns junior forward Roosevelt Jones (10.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg), senior forward Khyle Marshall (9.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and sophomore guard Kellen Dunham (9.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg). This will be the Bulldogs’ third different league in three years; two years ago they were in the Horizon League. After spending one in the A-10, it will be interesting to see how they make the jump to the Big East.
    8. PROVIDENCE (19-15, 9-9 Big East)

    The Friars made a late run last season, going 9-4 in their final 13 games and reaching the NIT quarterfinals where they lost to eventual champ Baylor. Point guard Vincent Council is gone to the NBA Draft, as is scoring sensation Ricky Ledo, who never suited up last season due to eligibility issues. But the Friars return senior guard Bryce Cotton (19.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg), an All-Big East first-team selection a year ago; senior forward Kadeem Batts (14.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg), an honorable mention honoree; and junior forward LaDontae Henton (13.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg). Kris Dunn and Josh Fortune are now sophomores and have a year of experience under their belts. The Friars also add transfers Tyler Harris and Carson Desrosiers to incoming players Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock. Austin recently went for 91 points in an all-star game.

    9. SETON HALL (15-18, 3-15 Big East)

    Not much went right for the Pirates last season, when it seemed virtually everyone on their roster went down with some kind of injury. Since last season ended, not much has gone right, either. Recruits Aquille Carr and Jerron Wilbut ran into legal difficulties, and Carr ultimately opted to play professionally overseas. Aaron Cosby, the team’s second-leading scorer (12.6 ppg), transferred to Illinois and promising, yet under-performing big man Kevin Johnson is also out the door. The good news for the Pirates is that they should get everyone back healthy this year, including bigs Patrik Auda, Gene Teague, Brandon Mobley and Brian Oliver, who were all hampered by injury last season. Senior Fuquan Edwin (16.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg) remains the best player on the team after earning Big East honorable mention status last season. Coach Kevin Willard is placing great faith in the young and unproven backcourt of Texas transfer Sterling Gibbs and New Jersey native Jaren Sina to run the show.
    10. DEPAUL (11-21, 2-16 Big East)

    It’s DePaul, really, what is there to say?  Five players transferred in the off-season. Senior guard Brandon Young (16.7 ppg) and senior forward Cleveland Melvin (16.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg) return as the leading scorers and junior G/F Jamee Crockett (8.7 ppg) comes back after battling injuries. Tommy Hamilton, a 6-9 freshman center, has battled injuries and weight problems but is a talent when motivated. Top-100 recruit Billy Garrett Jr. leads the incoming recruits, and will see immediate playing time, along with Oak Hill’s R.J. Curington.

    Per ESPNU Top 100:

    17. PG Rysheed Jordan, St. John’s

    27. SG JaJuan Johnson, Marquette

    39. SF Deonte Burton, Marquette

    53. PG Duane Wilson, Marquette

    56. SF Brandon Austin, Providence

    63. SF Reggie Cameron, Georgetown

    73. PF Kris Jenkins, Villanova

    89. PG Brandon Randolph, Xavier

    91. PG Jaren Sina, Seton Hall

    92. SF Josh Hart, Villanova

    94. PG Billy Garrett, Jr. DePaul


    Preseason Player of the Year

    Doug McDermott, Sr. F, Creighton


    Preseason All-Big East First Team

    D’Angelo Harrison, Jr. G, St. John’s

    Bryce Cotton, Sr. G., Providence

    Semaj Christon, So. G, Xavier

    Davante Gardner, Sr. F., Marquette

    JaKarr Sampson, So. F, St. John’s


    Preseason All-Big East Second Team

    Ryan Arcidiacono, So. G, Villanova

    Markel Starks, Sr. G., Georgetown

    Fuquan Edwin, Sr. G/F, Seton Hall

    Kadeem Batts, Jr. F, Providence
    JayVaughn Pinkston, Jr. F, Villanova

    Preseason All-Big East Third Team

    D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, So. G, Georgetown

    Rysheed Jordan, Fr. G., St. John’s

    Jamil Wilson, Sr. F, Marquette

    Cleveland Melvin, Sr. F, DePaul
    Chris Obekpa, So. F., St. John’s


    Preseason All-Rookie Team

    Rysheed Jordan, G, St. John’s

    JaJuan Johnson, G, Marquette

    Deonte Burton, F, Marquette

    Brandon Austin, F, Providence

    Aleksandar “Aleks” Vezenkov, F, Xavier


    Written by

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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.