Reformed league could be determined by key new players
One thing is pretty clear about the new Big East: Projecting the league is going to be difficult.
Georgetown and Marquette tied for the Big East title in the old conference, but both teams lose key players. Villanova, which defeated Georgetown and Marquette late last season, brings back most of its key players. Creighton won the Missouri Valley and has most of its roster intact, including the top player in the league.
And those are just the top teams. The league pecking order could be determined by a hodgepodge of newcomers — five-star freshmen, junior college players, transfers from teams as different as UCLA and Rice.
Our look at the transfers, freshmen and players returning from injury last season continues with a look at the Big East after we’ve profiled the ACC, American and Big 12.
Josh Smith, Georgetown
Transfer from UCLA
At UCLA, Smith’s weight was a more pressing issue than his play on the court. Smith averaged 10.9 points per game and 6.3 rebounds as a freshman in 2010-11, but his playing time dwindled to 13.5 minutes per game before he left the Bruins early last season. Smith routinely weighed more than 300 pounds at UCLA. He’ll be eligible in December with hopes that a move East will give him a fresh start.
Jameel McKay, Marquette
Junior college transfer
Buzz Williams, a JUCO product himself, has a soft spot for junior college transfers. McKay is yet another to follow Williams to Marquette. He’s a 6-8, 205-pound forward who will bolster Marquette’s frontcourt, which is expected to be the strength of the team in 2013-14. A high-energy player, McKay was a two-time first-team All-American at Indiana Hills Community College after playing high school ball in Milwaukee.
Duane Wilson, Marquette
Wilson could take over the point guard spot and give Marquette a scoring punch there. He can knock down 3s, hit free throws and get to the rim. Like McKay, Wilson is a hometown product from Milwaukee.
Rysheed Jordan, St. John’s
St. John’s returns better than 90 percent of its scoring, but Jordan will have plenty of opportunities to play minutes immediately. D’Angelo Harrison and Phil Greene IV played point guard last season, but Jordan may be the best option there. Provided he’s not suspended as he was at the end of last season, Harrison is better suited for shooting guard.
Carson Desrosiers, Providence
Transfer from Wake Forest
Ed Cooley laid the groundwork for reviving Providence on the recruiting trail, but transfers will also play a role if the Friars are going to make an NCAA Tournament run in 2013-14. Desrosiers is a seven-foot, 235-pound transfer who started 38 games in two seasons at Wake Forest. He’s a standout shot blocker (1.8 per game), but he can also step outside and make 15-footers.
Jaren Sina, Seton Hall
Landing Sina, a former commitment for Northwestern and Alabama, was something of a coup for the Pirates. Problems at point guard sunk Seton Hall a year ago, and the hope is that Sina can eventually stabilize the position.
Brandon Austin, Providence
Austin is yet another high-profile freshman Cooley has signed, joining Kris Dunn (who will be his starting point guard) and Ricky Ledo (who left for the draft after never playing for the Friars). Austin is a versatile guard who could be one of PC’s top scorers.
Dylan Ennis, Villanova
Transfer from Rice
The brother of Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis, Dylan will back up budding star point guard Ryan Arcidacono, but he has the versatility to contribute at three different spots. Ennis averaged 8.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists as a freshman at Rice in 2011-12.
Matt Stainbrook, Xavier
Transfer from Western Michigan
Stainbrook will give Xavier a key body in the frontcourt after shedding more than 50 pounds during his redshirt season. He suffered a knee injury in February, but he’s still expected to be major contributor. The 6-foot-10 center averaged 10.1 points and 6.6 rebounds in two seasons at Western Michigan.
Sterling Gibbs, Seton Hall
Transfer from Texas
Gibbs averaged only 7.5 minutes per game at Texas but transferred back home to New Jersey after only one season in Austin. The brother of former Pittsburgh guard Ashton Gibbs could join Sina in solidifying Seton Hall’s point guard spot.
Other new faces to watch:
God’sgift Achiuwa, St. John’s
The all-name teamer redshirted last season but averaged 9.4 points per game and 5.8 rebounds in 18 starts in 2011-12.
Elijah Brown, Butler
The son of former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown is capable of playing both guard spots and the wing.
Tyler Harris, Providence
Transfer from NC State
Harris was caught in a crunch for playing time at NC State, but Providence believes he can contribute quality minutes. He’s a 6-9 forward who can shoot like a guard.
Jalen Reynolds, Xavier
Ineligible last season
Reynolds was tabbed as a hidden gem after winning a one-on-one battle with Mitch McGary, but the forward was ineligible last season.
Reggie Coleman, Georgetown
The top-100 freshman small forward should boost the Hoyas from 3-point range.