Big East Basketball: Preseason Award Selections and End of Year Award Predictions
Big East Basketball: Preseason Award Selections and End of Year Award Predictions
The good news is that college basketball is just a few weeks away. The bad, well they start the season in the midst of heavy football action. How does one tell that the season is about to get under way? The Big East Preseason Awards have just been handed out. The coaches in the conference have voted, and as in every year, some names have been left off while others have rightly been put on.
I'm not knocking the coaches at all. They have enough on the their plate as it is and it's very hard to predict these kind of things when you don't have tape on incoming freshmen. Also, these awards are pretty silly considering they don't actually mean anything. While it is a great honor for any of these guys to win a preseason award, I'm sure all of them will tell you that they'd prefer the postseason equivalent instead.
I have the ability that some of these Big East coaches do not, I have the ability of objectivity and time. While these guys are busy getting ready for the start of the season and handing out preseason awards based on last season's merits, I'm breaking down game film like a nerd playing World of Warcraft.
Now that we have established that I have far too much time on my hands let's get going. I will be giving a recap of each award(POY, ROY, and First Team) followed by who I think will win it. Believe it or not, I don't disagree all that much. And honestly, these awards don't mean anything unless you live up to the hype.
We are going to start with the All-Big East First Team. Without further ado, here we go....
1st Team Guard
Vincent Council of the Providence Friars garnered a first team selection and it's well deserved. The guard averaged 15.9 ppg and was first in the conference in assists with a 7.5 per game average. I'm totally fine with this pick for multiple reasons.
First and foremost, Council plays a ton of minutes. Last year he led the conference with time spent on the court averaging a shade under 39 minutes per game. Sadly, there is a reason why Council has to play nearly an entire game.
The Friars aren't exactly world beaters. Meaning Council has to get his in order for the team to have any chance. Opposing coaches are surely going to key on him, but they did that last season as well, and it didn't work out that well for them.
Council is a Senior so this isn't his first rodeo. Even with the high expectations I fully expect him to live up to the hype.
1st Team Other Guard
Sean Kilpatrick of the Cincinnati Bearcats is the other guard who garnered the First Team Preseason Award nod. Kilpatrick is a deadly shooter whose 14.3 scoring average was made to look easy with a league-high 92 3-point baskets.
Kilpatrick is good. I'm not saying he's not but I don't think he will get the award when the season is over. Instead, it goes to the man I'm knocking off from the Big East's Player of the Year.
Louisville Cardinal guard Peyton Siva has been named Big East Preseason Player of the Year by a vote of the league’s head coaches. Siva is player who feels like he's player under Rick Pitino since 1927. Last season he averaged 9.1 points per game and was fourth in the Big East in assists with 5.6 per game.
Those aren't staggering numbers and that's why I don't see him winning POY(I'll touch on that more later). But considering what he helped Louisville do last year, Final Four run, and what's expected from them this year, Siva is a front-runner to win at least some form of postseason award.
This is a situation where a player's hype will earn him the benefit of the doubt. Siva won't have to put up big numbers as long as Louisville has a great season. In turn, he will be rewarded with plenty of accolades.
1st Team Forward
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish's Jack Cooley won the Big East "Most Improved Player" at the end of last season. Cooley's game is garnered around being a physical force under the basket. Cooley had a nice season last year averaging 12.3 points and 8.9 rebounds a game.
Cooley got this award as a Forward, and with incoming freshmen being all the rage these days, it's hard to say whether not he will grab the award at the end of the season. To do so, Cooley is going to have to become more of an offensive threat and average a double-double a game. Considering he's already close to those kind of numbers it's only logical he gets the preseason award.
I would love to tell you what freshman is going to win this award at the end of the season because that's what I believe will happen. Cooley doesn't strike me as a 17-11 a game guy and that's what will be needed to win this award.
I'm also not a believer in buying into a freshman's AAU hype. So while I reserve the right(hypocritically so) to say a freshman will actually win the award, I'm not sure exactly which one. I'd be lying if I told you a name because it's nearly impossible to know which kid will actually be an impact player his first year in the conference.
1st Team Other Forward
Otto Porter of the Georgetown Hoyas is a player with a high ceiling. Porter averaged 9.7 points and a team-leading 6.8 rebounds per game as a freshman last season. His chance at being a first team forward selection is far less likely than Cooley's. Cooley is slightly more polished and plays on a team where his offense will be needed more. That's not saying Porter won't have his opportunities but I doubt Hoya's coach John Paul Thompson III is going to look to Porter as a go to guy.
Rather than giving Porter the nod here, I'll go with Cleveland Melvin from the DePaul Blue Demons. Melvin is the conference's returning scoring champion, averaging just under 18 a game. Plus he's a very solid cleaning up the glass, averaging just under 8 boards a game. Melvin's numbers already lend itself as being a first team selection.
Clearly for Melvin, the success of the team will have a great deal with whether or not he garners first team at the end of the year. I just trust him far more as an already established player rather than Porter's upside.
1st Team Center
Another Louisville Cardinal player made the preseason first team, center Gorgui Dieng. In fact, Dieng is the only true center selected within any of the preseason selections. Dieng averaged 9 points and 9 boards a game last season to go with 3 blocks per. While there is an incoming freshman center getting some buzz(more on that player next), Dieng is likely a lock for this award.
Dieng is only 1 more point and board away from being a double-double monster, and along with his blocks, his box-score line should look nice every night. I don't expect a huge jump in his offensive game but it should be enough that his line will look something like this 12-11-3(points, rebounds, blocks). For the center position that is so weak across the country and in conference, Dieng will run away with this award quietly.
Rookie of the Year
Did I just say the center position is at a premium? Well the Pittsburgh Panthers are looking to change that with freshman Steven Adams. Adams is a legit 7 footer who was considered a top 10 recruit in the country.
Rookie of the Year is the hardest honor to predict. Considering big men are supposed to take the longest to develop, I find it surprising he got the preseason selection. There are plenty of teams in the conference who are going to rely on loads of freshmen, so this race will be a fun one to follow.
I've already stated I don't buy in the AAU hype of a player. So I'll defer to the coaches' selection here.
Player of the Year
Player of the Year, what an honor it will be to get this award considering the Big East will look completely different next season. Louisville's Peyton Siva has been named the preseason winner.
Siva is a really strong player but his numbers just don't lend itself to this kind of award. 9 points and 6 assists a game just won't cut the cake. Even if he improves dramatically(which he won't, he's a senior and his ceiling has been hit), 14-9 won't get him this award either. This nod feels more like a lifetime achievement award for Siva who has been in the league since Reagan was in office.
The St. John's Red Storm's D'Angelo Harrison is who I think will get the award at the end of the year. Harrison averaged 17 a game as a freshman and that number is going up. The Red Storm are going to rely on Harrison for everything on the offensive side of the ball and a 20-6 stat-line is not out of the question.
The only thing that could hold Harrison back from winning the award is the lack of success St. John's might have. The Johnnies are going to be really young, and despite a fancy box score in his future, Harrison can be hampered by playing on a .500 team.
If the team plays as a top 5 program in conference, I think Harrison will get national attention come early January and become the front-runner for the award.
Joe covers the Big East for Rant Sports. Follow Joe on Twitter @JosephNardone