In projecting the 2021-2022 Big East Men’s basketball season I sat down attempted to determine who will be the most significant players. My hope is that figuring out who will earn the hardware for the end of the year will allow me to reverse engineer the season for my Big East season projection (coming soon). Lets take a look, shall we?
All Big East First Team*
- Julian Champagnie, St. John’s, G/F, Jr., Brooklyn, N.Y. – Probably the best player and NBA prospect in the Big East this year.
- Collin Gillespie, Villanova, G, Sr., Huntingdon Valley, Pa. – One of the three 2021 co-POYs comes back for one last ride.
- Posh Alexander, St. John’s, G, So., Brooklyn, N.Y. – 2021 co-DPOY as a freshman, if he has developed a reliable outside game over the summer look out.
- Nate Watson, Providence, F/C, Sr., Portsmouth, Va. – Made a leap to almost 17 ppg in 20-21.
- Zach Freemantle, Xavier, F, Jr., Teaneck, N.J. – Also made a leap to 16 ppg in 20-21, looks poised for a big 21-22.
- Paul Scruggs, Xavier, G, Sr., Indianapolis, Ind. – Already a solid scorer and elevated his facilitation to 5.7 apg last year. Solid leader needs to be the key to give X a big 21-22.
* Six selections are made for the First Team.
All Big East Second Team
- RJ Cole Sr., UConn, G, Sr., Union, N.J. – Former MEAC POY, Cole transferred in last season and seemed to get a feel for the Big East game as the year progressed.
- Adama Sanogo, UConn, F, So., Bamako, Mali by way of The Patrick School (Hillside, N.J.) – A bit undersized for the frontcourt but extremely powerful, Sonogo is a force in the paint.
- Jermaine Samuels, Villanova, F, Sr., Franklin, Mass. – Rangy wing in the Nova tradition has a knack for hitting big shots and was All Big East Honorable Mention last season.
- Jared Rhoden, Seton Hall, G/F, Sr., Baldwin, N.Y. – Looks to be the next man up to play the role of Batman for the Pirates.
- Justin Moore, Villanova, G, Jr., Fort Washington, MD. – Already a significant contributor at shooting guard for Nova, Moore was good in 20-21 but he can take another step forward this season.
- Chuck Harris, Butler, G, So., Washington, D.C. – Will be surrounded by experience, as the only non-senior starter for the Bulldogs. Went on a tear towards the end of last year, ended up averaging almost 13 ppg but may see some of his touches diminish with all of the returners that Butler has coming back from injury.
- Al Durham, Providence, G, Sr., Lilburn, GA – Durham transfers in from Indiana averaging 11 pts, 3 rebs, and almost 3 asts per game. Expect him to continue or improve that production in the Big East.
- Nate Johnson, Xavier, G, Sr., Miami, FL – A dead-eye shooter, Johnson shot better than 45% from three point range last season and averaged more than 11 ppg in his first season in the Big East.
- Myles Cale, Seton Hall, G, Sr., Middletown, DE. – Cale looks poised to play Robin to Rhoden’s Batman averaging 11.6 ppg last year. He has good length for a SG at 6’6″, which helps on both ends of the court.
* The Big East makes an undetermined amount of Honorable Mention selections each year, usually 2-3 players and quite often they are seniors. I couldn’t choose from among these players, they’re all so deserving!
All Big East Freshman Team*
- Arthur Kaluma, Creighton, F, Glendale, AZ
- Aminu Mohammed, Georgetown, G, Washington DC
- Jordan Hawkins, UConn, G, Hyattsville, MD
- Jordan Longino, Villanova, G, Fort Washington, PA
- Rati Andronikashvili, Creighton, G, Tbilisi, Georgia * Medical Redshirt in 20-21
All of these players are unknowns at the college level at this point; however all are four star recruits aside from Mohammed who was a five star and the number 23 player in the 2021 class (per 24/7 sports). UConn’s Samson Johnson (C, Elizabeth, NJ) and Rahsool Diggins (G, Philadelphia, PA) are also highly ranked but may not reach enough playing time to make the squad, especially with Hawkins also in the mix. Ryan Nembhard of Creighton (G, Ontario, Canada) was ranked just behind those two as a recruit, but it might be difficult for so many Creighton players to be recognized. Marquette’s Stevie Michell (G, Reading, PA) and DePaul’s Ahamad Bynum (G, Chicago, IL) may both crack their starting lineups. So, they could earn a spot on this squad if they show out.
- COY – Travis Steele, Xavier – COY should probably always go to to Nova’s Jay Wright but the voters would tire of giving him the award every year. Steele looks like he will have Xavier in the next best spot so he gets the nod here.
- POY – Gillespie, Villanova & Champangie, St John’s – As mentioned, reigning co-POY and the conference’s best player.
- DPOY – Alexander, St John’s – Co-DPOY last year as a freshman (with UConn’s Isiah Whaley), many expect Posh to make enough strides in year two to take sole possession of this award.
- Freshman of the Year – Mohammed, Georgetown – Highest ranked recruit in the Big East and the Hoyas need the help.
- Most Improved Player – Akok Akok, UConn, F, Jr. Manchester, N.H. – The big man missed most of last season with an achilles injury. When we last saw him in 19-20 he was an amazing shot blocker. Expect the rest of Akok’s game to have improved considerably as well.
- Sixth Man Award – Dwon Odom, Xavier, G, So., Alpharetta, Ga. – Odom would be starting on most teams in the country but extra year seniors have crowded the Musketeer’s backcourt. Odom’s game will provide a spark off the bench and Steele should give him enough minutes to keep him happy.