NCAA Basketball

Big East Player to Watch: Tray Woodall (Pittsburgh)

Ashton Gibbs is gone and now Pittsburgh is Tray Woodall’s team.

The fifth-year senior sustained a sports hernia early in 2011-12, missing 11 games in a 12-game stretch. The Panthers survived initially, but Woodall’s absence severely impaired the team.

Upon Woodall’s return, Pitt lost to Louisville but subsequently reeled off four straight wins. Woodall averaged 18.5 points and 6.8 assists in those victories, giving Jamie Dixon a much needed boost.

Woodall’s injury never fully healed, so he couldn’t maximize his potential as a junior, yet he still averaged 11.7 points, 6.1 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game while shooting 38.6 percent from deep.

After undergoing surgery in April, Woodall should be fully healed and ready for a huge season.

He won’t have Gibbs in the backcourt, but Central Michigan transfer Trey Zeigler and freshman stud James Robinson will actually make Pitt’s guard play more formidable than last year. Robinson is one of the top floor generals in this year’s freshman class, and it remains to be seen how Dixon will allocate minutes at the point between Robinson and Woodall. But if Woodall splits time at the one and two, he could benefit, as he has already proven to be capable of scoring in bunches. He topped 20 points three times last year and you should see more of that with Robinson allowing Woodall to play without the ball.

Follow Ari Kramer on Twitter to talk Big East and college basketball.

Here are the rest of the Big East Player to Watch pieces to date: Brandon TricheChane BehananPeyton SivaOtto Porter, Fuquan Edwin