Power Rankings: Big East Basketball’s Top 15 Players (Second Edition)
Big East`s Top 15 Players
Before a big Wednesday night of Big East action, it’s time to power rank the conference’s top 15 player of the year candidates for the second time this season.
A couple fresh faces join the rankings while the duo at top continue to battle making it look like recording double-doubles is a piece of cake.
The Orange continued to look impressive with Coach Jim Boeheim picking up the 900th win of his career against the Detroit Titans. Syracuse’s impressive guard play along with receiving an offensive spark off the bench has led the way for the team’s strong start.
Much like the Orange, Cincinnati is another team that has been led by their guard play to stay unbeaten. The guard tandem for the Bearcats have yet to be contained, combining to lead Cincinnati to its 10-0 record.
Talented guard play continues to be the theme that runs through the conference with the Louisville Cardinals having perhaps the best duo in the Big East.
Meanwhile the Pittsburgh Panthers continue to be left off the rankings despite their 10-1 record. However, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish with an identical 10-1 record and the Georgetown Hoyas with a 9-1 record, have managed to find a spot in the top 25.
The Big East has five teams ranked in the top 25 and another that could make an argument it deserves a spot as well. There is no shortage of competition in what will be the final great season for the conference before realignment changes everything.
With the conference’s future remaining uncertain, it’s time to take a look at the present players in the Big East who are having an impact on the final season.
The rankings are based on player performance, strength of schedule, team success, and are designed to give an idea of where the player might finish if the conference player of the year was named today. Players who have performed at high levels against strong competition are weighed higher than those who might have higher numbers against considerably weaker competition.
15. Eric Atkins
Eric Atkins, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Current Ranking: 15, Last Ranking: NR
Atkins is the conference’s best guard at producing at a high level while taking excellent care of the ball. He ranks third in the conference in assists average but has the highest assist to turnover ratio among the top ten assists leaders in the conference. Atkins averages 10.9 points, and seven assists while committing only 1.6 turnovers per game resulting in an average of 4.27 assists for every turnover. The junior also has four double-doubles on the year. The play of Atkins and Jerian Grant has combined to give Notre Dame a backcourt that has showcased its playmaking while limiting turnovers, it is a big reason why the team has a 10-1 record.
14. Fuquan Edwin
Fuquan Edwin, Seton Hall Pirates
Current Ranking: 14, Last Ranking: 14
Despite being fourth in the conference in scoring and third in steals, Edwin still struggles to crack the top ten based on Seton Hall’s schedule. Still, the 6-foot-6 junior is averaging 19.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 2.3 assists. He has three straight games of scoring in the twenties and two double-doubles on the year. He’d be higher but the 8-2 Pirates have only played two teams with winning records and lost to both of them.
13. James Southerland
James Southerland, Syracuse Orange
Current Ranking: 13, Last Ranking: NR
Southerland leads the Orange in scoring despite not starting a single game this season. The senior is averaging 15.9 points and 4.5 rebounds off the bench while shooting 55.7% from the field. Earlier in the season Southerland tied Syracuse’s record for most three-pointers in a game and hasn’t slowed down since. The 6-foot-8 forward has back-to-back games scoring in the twenties combining to shoot 61.5% from the field in the Orange’s past two games, while going 8 for 14 from the three point line.
12. Brandon Triche
Brandon Triche, Syracuse Orange
Current Ranking: 12, Last Ranking: 11
Syracuse’s second leading scorer drops a bit after posting a season low seven points against the Detroit Titans on 1 for 6 shooting from the field and 5 for 9 from the free throw line. He’s the Orange’s second leader playmaker but nearly averages a turnover for every assist he tallies. On the season Triche has 39 assists but has also committed 27 turnovers. He’s still been effective averaging 14.5 points, 3.9 assists and 3.8 rebounds for the undefeated Orange. However, he’ll have to reel in the turnovers to get higher than the competition he’s up against in the conference.
11. D`Angelo Harrison
D’Angelo Harrison, St. John’s Red Storm
Current Ranking: 11, Last Ranking: 12
The conference’s second leading scorer is continuing his hot start to the year averaging 20.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 2.1 assists. The Red Storm’s record of 8-3 won’t be the most impressive in the conference but it’s important to note only two of the teams they have faced own losing records. Unfortuntely none of those teams have come close to being ranked in the top 25. The 6-foot-3 sophomore will shoot up the rankings if he can continue to post similar numbers in conference play.
10. Bryce Cotton
Bryce Cotton, Providence Friars
Current Ranking: 10, Last Ranking: 9
Cotton continues to impress as the conference’s leading scorer with an average of 20.7 points to go along with 4.2 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game. He’s helped Providence start the season with an 8-2 record however only half the teams they played have winning records and they lost to two of them. With a stronger schedule he’d be higher and likely will find himself with a better ranking if he’s able to maintain his current play during league season.
9. Cashmere Wright
Cashmere Wright, Cincinnati Bearcats
Current Ranking: 9, Last Ranking: 10
The six-foot senior has been a big part of the undefeated Bearcats despite averaging his lowest rebounding and assists totals since his freshman year. Besides the lower totals in those stat categories, Wright is averaging career highs in almost every other category. The guard is posting 14.9 points, 2.2 steals and shooting 77.8% from the free throw line, 47.5% from the three point line and 47.7% from the field. All numbers that are higher than his junior totals of 10.9 points, two steals, 66.7% from the foul line, 37.1 %from long range and 40.9% from the floor. The guard is also only 14 assists shy of fourth all-time in Bearcats history, a spot currently held by Oscar Robertson.
8. Shabazz Napier
Shabazz Napier, Connecticut Huskies
Current Ranking:8, Last Ranking: 6
Napier’s hot scoring that saw him begin the year with three 20+ point games in the first five games of the season has cooled off as a late. He’s recorded his three lowest scoring totals in the past four games for the 8-2 Huskies. However, where his scoring has dropped up off, his playmaking has skyrocketed. In his past two games the junior has posted a total of 17 assists. He continues to make Coach Kevin Ollie look deserving of a contract extension with his averages of 16.6 points, 3.5 assists, 3.2 rebounds and two steals per contest.
7. Peyton Siva
Peyton Siva, Louisville Cardinals
Current Ranking:7, Last Ranking: 8
Siva is another player averaging career highs as he’s helped Louisville to a 9-1 start to the year. In his senior season he’s recording career bests of 11.7 points, 5.8 assists, and 2.4 steals while shooting 83.3% from the foul line. He sits fifth in the conference in both assists and steals as he continues to be one of the best guards in the conference. The six-foot has also found a consistent scoring touch this season finishing in double-figures in five of Louisville’s last six games. Once league action tips-off the duo of Siva and Russ Smith will continue to be the conference’s toughest guard tandem to try and contain.
6. Tray Woodall
Tray Woodall, Pittsburgh Panthers
Current Ranking:6, Last Ranking: 7
Woodall continues to lead the 10-1 Panthers in scoring and playmaking averaging 13.1 points, six assists and 2.1 rebounds. The fifth-year senior is shooting career bests of 50.9% from the field and 40.7% from the three point line. Despite his scoring and impressive shooting, the guard’s most impressive stat has been his ability to take care of the ball for the Panthers. He’s currently averaging a better assist to turnover ratio than fellow conference playmakers Michael Carter-Williams and Peyton Siva with 3.47 assists for every turnover. That number puts him second in the conference among top 10 assists leaders.
5. Otto Porter Jr.
Otto Porter Jr, Georgetown Hoyas
Current Ranking: 5, Last Ranking: 4
It’s unlikely Porter Jr. has ever heard the term “sophomore jynx” given the way he’s led Georgetown to a 9-1 record. The 6-foot-8 forward has been a little bit of everything for the Hoyas with his averages of 12.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.6 blocks while shooting 51.1% from the floor. His scoring totals aren’t always the highest with only one 20 point game on the year however it’s his ability to contribute in all others areas that makes him so effective for Georgetown. He has two double-doubles, one that saw him finish with five blocks and he also had a seven assist game that saw him finish with four steals. Porter Jr. is only getting better as the season progresses and the Hoyas are improving with him.
4. Russ Smith
Russ Smith, Louisville Cardinals
Current Ranking: 4 , Last Ranking: 5
Rick Pitino recently admitted in an interview with Seth Davis that there was a time when he thought pro scouts would never take Smith seriously. After the junior’s great start to the season, the coach believes Smith has evolved to the point where he’ll have a successful pro-career whether it’s in the NBA or overseas. Smith is a force on both ends of the floor being ranked third in the conference in scoring and second in steals. The 6-foot-1 guard is averaging career highs of 20.2 points, 3.1 steals, three rebounds and 2.7 assists while shooting 81% from the foul line.
3. Sean Kilpatrick
Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati Bearcats
Current Ranking: 3, Last Ranking: 3
The conference’s fifth leader scorer has been playing incredible to start the year and is the major reason why Cincinnati is still undefeated at 10-0. Kilpatrick is averaging 19.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 48.6% from the field. The 6-foot-4 junior has scored in double-figures every game of the year as opponents have been unable to slow down the guard. He’ll make a run for the ranking’s top spot soon if he can show he’s able to put up similar numbers in conference play.
2. Jack Cooley
Jack Cooley, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Current Ranking: 2, Last Ranking: 2
The 6-foot-9 senior is the conference’s top rebounder averaging a double-double of 14.5 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. He also sits fourth in the conference in field goal percentage with 61.5%. Cooley has seven double-doubles leading Notre Dame to a 10-1 record having never recorded fewer than eight rebounds in a game. He got into foul trouble early in the season which could be a cause for concern if it resurfaces during the Fighting Irish’s league schedule. However, there is no denying that when he is on the court few players are more dominate in the paint than Cooley.
1. Michael Carter-Williams
Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse Orange
Current Ranking: 1, Last Ranking: 1
It’s hard to imagine a player with more double-doubles in the conference than Jack Cooley but Carter-Williams is giving him competition. The 6-foot-6 point guard has recorded six straight double-doubles and it could very well be nine straight if he looked to score more often. The sophomore is averaging 12.3 points, 10.7 assists, five rebounds and 3.4 steals. He currently leads the conference in assists and steals as he’s shown he can do it at both ends of the floor with his playmaking and defense in Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. He’s quickly become a match-up nightmare given his length, and as his jump shot improves teams will only struggle more trying to contain the guard.