With the season just around the corner, Paint Touches is taking a look at the top 50 players in the Big East. Instead of doing a true top 50, we took the five best players from each team and ordered them one to fifty. Important to note, these are the five best players, not necessarily the five starters from each team. This list is the product of a lot of analysis and discussion and will hopefully inspire some reaction and debate.
30. Jessie Govan of Georgetown
6-10 270 lb SO C
17.6 mpg, 6.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.4 spg, 1.0 bpg, 1.8 tpg, .480 FG%, .831 FT%, .500 3P%
No team in the Big East has more depth in the post than the Hoyas of Georgetown. Jessie Govan might be the most intriguing out all of them. The New York product spent all of last season coming off the bench behind senior Bradley Hayes. In limited minutes, Govan showed some real potential on the offensive end. Despite his enormous 270 lb frame, Govan showed a sweet stroke from the outside. It was only on 28 attempts, but he hit 50% of his three pointers. He will never be a consistent threat from outside but he could be effective in catch and shoot situations or on hitting trailing threes in transition. His 83% FT% was also a testament to his strong shooting ability by big man standards.
Georgetown returns most of its players’ from last year’s squad including starting center Bradley Hayes who got approved for another year of eligibility. Given that the largest jump in production for players tends to be between their freshmen and sophomore year, Govan has a chance to overcome Hayes for the starting spot. Knowing JT3, he will likely run with the veteran in Hayes despite Govan’s versatility. One area that Govan needs to improve is his shot selection. He sometimes seems to forget that he is the biggest guy on the court and relies too much on his jumpshot. He shot 58% on shots near the basket but only 47% on 2P FGs overall, unacceptably low for a big man. If Govan can learn to use his jumpshot as a change of pace, rather than as a go to, he will be a very dangerous opponent.
29. Katin Reinhardt of Marquette
6-6 210 lb RSSR SF
26.9 mpg, 11.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.4 tpg, .444 FG%, .783 FT%, .373 3P% (stats for USC)
Katin Reinhardt started his career in Sin City before transferring and spending two seasons in the City of Angels. His last season as a Trojan was his most successful. With Reinhardt’s help, USC made the NCAA tournament as an 8 seed for the first time in 5 seasons. Reinhardt was an essential piece to the high octane Trojan offense which was ranked in the top 20 for scoring offenses in all of Division 1. Reinhardt himself chipped in 11.3 points per game with both his ability to both slash to the hoop and stretch out defenses. He led USC in 3PM and was also one of the better defenders on the team. He has the ideal “switchable” frame that allows him to be successful guarding both perimeter and the interior.
Reinhardt brings leadership and experience to a young but talented Marquette squad. With their undersized roster, Wojo is going to look to run a very fast paced team that uses pressure on defense to create offense. There will often be four guards on the floor with one traditional big. This is very similar to the style of play the Andy Enfield ran last season at USC and will help Reinhardt make an immediate impact at Marquette. What he doesn’t bring is rebounding. Marquette was a bad rebounding team last season and they lose their best ball hawk with Ellenson going pro. Reinhardt’s size will often dictate that he is the “four” on the floor. He has never been a good rebounder. Part of this was by design but it is unlikely that he will suddenly pick up a skill he’s never displayed. If he can even snag 4 rebounds a game, Marquette fans will be delighted.
28. Jonathan Mulmore of Georgetown
6-4 185 lb JR PG
26.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 5.9 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.6 bpg, 4.2 tpg, .484 FG%, .809 FT%, .320 3P% (for Allegany College of Maryland)
There is no player who was harder to place on this list than Jonathan Mulmore. The junior college product was a scoring machine at Allegany College, racking up an eye popping 26.1 points per contest, 2nd highest in all of the NJCAA. It didn’t help his team much as they stumbled to 17-10 record and an early exit from their region tournament. Mulmore led his team in scoring 24/27 games last season. It’s hard to say how much his numbers were inflated simply by playing on a poor team without anyone else with an ability to score. Still, you don’t average 26 points on accident. When looking to score, Mulmore prefers to take it head on by slashing straight to the hoop. He has the speed to blow by defenders and has good finishing ability around the rim. He can hit the open three when necessary but with only 32 makes at the JUCO level, it’s not something he can rely on. His defense leaves a lot to be desired. He often let opponents get right past him in man to man situation. Often he had to foul because he had let his man beat him.
It’s been almost 15 years since the Hoyas have added a JUCO to their ranks, so Mulmore must be good from them to break from tradition, right? Georgetown was going to be pretty desperate for point guard depth without Mulmore transferring in. Trae Campbell is fine as a backup but he shouldn’t be the starting point guard for any team that hopes to make the tournament. Mulmore brings in dynamic scoring, starting experience, and good distribution ability. He is at his best in transition where he can hit open teammates or keep the ball for himself. Turnovers and defense will be the biggest concerns for the Houston native. He had trouble defending juco level opponents. How will he fare against the Mo Wastsons, Edmond Sumners, and Jalen Brunsons of the Big East? He averaged an embarrassing 4.2 turnovers per game last season. A lot of that can be contributed to having to do everything for his team. But it wouldn’t surprise me to see him average around 3 turnovers while facing Big East defenses. It might be an overstatement, but Georgetown’s hopes might depend on how Mulmore transitions to D1. Lack of a good PG can doom any team, no matter the talent around it.
27. Kethan Savage of Butler
6-3 205 lb RSSR SG
30.1 mpg, 11.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.4 bpg, 2.2 tpg, .401 FG%, .736 FT%, .300 3P% (14-15 stats for George Washington)
Two seasons ago, the Colonials of George Washington were to trying to prove that their 2014 NCAA at large berth wasn’t a fluke, at that they were a legitimate emerging program. They fell a bit short but did earn themselves a 5 seed in the NIT, bowing out in the second round. That scrappy Colonial squad was built on defense, but when they needed a score, they would turn to Kethan Savage. Savage is a small but mighty guard who can fill a lot of different roles for the Bulldogs. Savage has an ability to break down defenses and create his own shot. He also excels at the drive and kick game. Savage has spent some time playing the point but its not his ideal position. Despite his small stature Savage rebounds fairly well.
Butler loses two exemplary guards in Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones this offseason. The Bulldogs turned to the transfer market to try and replace them. Of the two mentioned, Savage will play a lot like the latter. Like Jones, Savage is a guard with the strength of a forward and the skillset of a point guard. It remains to be seen who will take over the point guard role for the Bulldogs. Tyler Lewis is the only true point but his performance has been underwhelming at best. Avery Woodson, Dunham’s “replacement” grad transfer, is another option but he has never played the point. Savage at least has some experience in a backup role. Savage will do a lot of different things well, score, assist, create turnovers, rebound. But his efficiency on offense needs to improve. He shot a 43.9 eFG% and is not reliable from the outside.
26. Mikal Bridges of Villanova
6-7 210 RSSO SF
20.3 mpg, 6.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 0.9 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.7 bpg, 0.6 tpg, .521 FG%, .787 FT%, .299 3P%
Mikal Bridges may not have the stat line of a superstar, but he has the potential to be one of the most productive players in the Big East. The former ESPN top 100 recruit spent last season coming off the bench for the eventual national champions. He was brought in for his energy and his ability to lockdown defenders. With height and length like a forward but a motor and quickness like a guard, Bridges is the ideal “switchable” who can guard multiple positions. There was no better example of his value than in Villanova’s Elite Eight matchup with overall #1 seed Kansas. Bridges played 26 minutes, including virtually the entire second half. He only recorded six points and three rebounds, but his defense held the Jayhawks’ dynamic duo of Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden to a miserable 7-19 shooting. He also collected 5 steals, including two game sealers in the last 30 seconds.
Villanova loses its starting PG and C from its championship squad. With Jalen Brunson likely to slide from SG to the point, and Josh Hart to move to the 2, that leaves room for Bridges to take the starting wing position. We already know that Bridges will bring elite level versatile defense. What remains to be seen will be the value he adds on offense. He was an extremely efficient scorer last season, shooting a very respectable 59% eFG. His outside shot needs work, about 30% on 77 attempts last season. The offense will run through Hart and Jenkins, but Bridges will be a very effective third scoring option for the Wildcats. The biggest concern with Bridges is how he will handle bigger forwards. With Spellman declared ineligible, Villanova may have to run Bridges at the 4 position more often than they would like.
25. Isaac Copeland of Georgetown
6-9 220 lb JR PF
32.0 mpg, 11.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.6 bpg, 1.6 tpg, .429 FG%, .789 FT%, .272 3P%
Two seasons ago, Isaac Copeland was one of the most promising freshmen in the Big East, an all-Big East freshman selection. He was one of the pieces that had Hoya fans hopeful for a return to Big East dominance. His sophomore campaign saw some improvement but not nearly as much as Hoya fans had hoped for. He was a silver collector, ranking second on the team in minutes, rebounds, assists, and steals but wasn’t first in any major category. With more minutes this season, his total stats naturally increased. He greatly improved his shots inside the arc, making 53.9% of them, still a little low for a man with his size. A lot of this can be contributed to an improved ability to finish at the rim, an area he struggled with as a freshman. He also saw a dramatic increase in his assists, continuing a tradition of passing big men at Georgetown. On the other hand, his outside shot seemed to be broken. As a freshman he was a very respectable 39% from deep. His long balls as a sophomore only found the bottom of the net 27% of the time, making him an inconsistent threat at best. There were times where Copeland seemed lost on defense and despite his size and length, he didn’t generate a lot of steals or blocks.
Last season is one that no Hoya fan will want to remember. Fortunately for them, it should be shortlived as Georgetown should dramatically improve. Copeland is the returning player with the most minutes played last season and should be a centerpiece of the Hoyas offense. His ability to play both inside and out will help both create space for bigs like Bradley Hayes and Jessie Govan, and create lanes for transfers Rodney Pryor and Jonathan Mulmore. While last season was a downer for Copeland, he still showed that talent that made him an All Big East freshman. He dropped 21 on Duke, 23 on St. John’s, and a whopping 32 on Marquette late in the season. If he can rediscover his outside shot, he will be one of the most dangerous forwards in the conference.
24. JP Macura of Xavier
6-5 203 lb JR SG
22.7 mpg, 9.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.0 bpg, 1.0 tpg, .470 FG%, .897 FT%, .356 3P%
Is it too early for a naked in public joke? Last season when JP Macura wasn’t blinding Cincinnati bar goers with what I can only assume is a snow white tookus, he was providing the Musketeers with a scoring spark off the bench. Enough so that he won sixth man of the year from the Big East. Now, I personally take issue when a player is awarded the sixth man of the year award when he was in the top 5 on his team in minutes played but I digress. Macura certainly put up the numbers to earn the award, posting a 121.1 offensive rating, 3rd highest in the Big East last season.
Macura is the type of player who will let it all hang out on the court. He’s not afraid to show that he has balls. Ok, now I’m done. The graduation of Remy Abell leaves a hole in the starting lineup that Macura will slide into easily. He will stretch the floor with his range but isn’t afraid to throw down at the hoop either. He is an incredibly efficient scorer with a true shooting% of 60.2% and an eFG% of 56.1%. With more minutes, those numbers will likely go down but his overall production should raise dramatically. Macura isn’t just a one way player either. His steal% of 2.7% was in the top 10 in the Big East a season ago. His quick hands will create a lot of turnovers which is exactly how Mack’s Musketeers like to operate. An important note, Macura is the first Muskeeter on this list, meaning that all 5 of their starters are top 25 players in the conference. They have on of the best starting lineups of the conference, their bench depth is what will hold them back.
23. Rodney Pryor of Georgetown
6-5 205 lb RSSR SG
32.1 mpg, 18.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.9 bpg, 2.9 tpg, .434 FG%, .860 FT%, .290 3P% (stats for Robert Morris)
There weren’t many players on the grad transfer market with as gaudy of stat lines as Rodney Pryor. Pryor was a do it all guard and the leader of the Robert Morris Colonels. Pryor led the NEC squad in points, rebounding, and 3PM while also being second in steals and blocks. While his stat line should have Hoya fans excited, it cannot be emphasized enough how bad of a team Robert Morris was last season. Pryor had an incredibly high usage rate and was a very inefficient scorer. A lot of his stats are a bit exaggerated because there simply wasn’t anyone else on the team who could really produce. That being said, you don’t average 18 and 8 by accident and he will bring some great talent to the Hoyas.
Pryor will bring experience to a team that already has a lot of it. The best thing about that for Pryor is that he will no longer have to be the go to guy on the team. With experienced players like LJ Peak and Isaac Copeland in the fold, Pryor can be third scoring option that will allow him to pick his spots and score at a very efficient rate. Pryor’s favorite weapon is the long ball, especially in catch and shoot situations. Last season, he tried to force it too often, making only 29%. With less pressure, he could see that percentage raise to the levels it was at when he was a sophomore where he shot 43%. Three-point shooting isn’t the only thing Pryor brings. Pryor is a superior athlete who will fight for rebounds and abuse defenders in transition. His ability to defend Big East caliber guards will be the biggest transition challenge for Pryor.
22. Darien Williams of St. John’s
6-8 235 lb RSJR PF
16.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.9 bpg, 1.4 tpg, .512 FG%, .640 FT%, .411 3P% (13-14 stats for Iowa Western Community College)
This might be the pick that has readers scratching their head the most. Darien Williams was a JUCO transfer that was one of the first players to commit to Chris Mullin after he took the head coaching gig at his alma mater. Prior to that, Williams had been an Iowa State commit who asked for his release when his lead recruiter, Matt Abdelmassih, traded in his Ames farmhouse for an apartment in Queens. Williams did play a little last season, averaging 3 points and 3 rebounds in about 16 minutes a game for the first 3 games before being sidelined with a reinjury of his often operated on shoulders. We decided to give Williams the benefit of the doubt and assume that he will be coming back fully healthy and perform like the former #4 rated JUCO per 247sports.
Watching Williams play at the JUCO level, it just seemed unfair to have him on the team. Williams was on another level physically, with the size of forward but the speed and agility of a guard. He could power past defenders for thunderous dunks or kill you from outside where he shot 41% on over 90 3P attempts. Assuming his shoulders are healthy, Williams will be another in a long list of big, athletic forwards on St. John’s roster. With top JUCO Bashir Ahmed coming in, all Big East freshman Kassoum Yakwe returning, and promising sophomore Malik Ellison coming off the bench, the Red Storm will be able to create all sorts of mismatches on the offensive end. How Mullin gets them to work together, and more importantly, commit to a team defense, is going to be the difference between a respectable season and another year in the cellar for St. John’s. Again, health will be the biggest question mark for Williams.
21. Rashid Gaston of Xavier
6-9 239 lb RSSR C
31.1 mpg, 15.5 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 1.4 apg, 0.3 spg, 1.2 bpg, 2.1 tpg, .626 FG%, .543 FT%, .000 3P% (14-15 stats for Norfolk State)
Don’t let the MEAC label fool you, Rashid Gaston is very good at basketball. The Warren product returned to his native Ohio after spending three seasons cleaning the glass down in Virginia. He was a starter all three seasons, but didn’t really explode until his junior year. Gaston average dang near a double double, scoring 15.5 points and grabbing 9.6 boards a game. In fact, he reached the double double mark in over half his contests that season. Gaston likes to roam the paint and never wanders far from there. On offense, he is limited to post moves and putbacks. He ranked 2nd in the MEAC in both offensive and defensive rebounds. Defensively, he has booming blocks and can alter shots even if he doesn’t get to them. His presence in the post earned him MEAC defensive player of the week on four separate occasions.
Gaston was planning on sharing the frontcourt with Jalen Reynolds. Instead, Reynolds shocked Xavier fans by declaring early for the NBA draft. To nobody’s surprise, Reynolds went undrafted. This is both a blessing and a curse for Gaston. He will have plenty of opportunity, but Coach Mack will really be relying on him to hold down the middle as they don’t have much size on the bench. Xavier will not need Gaston to be a scorer. They have more firepower than just about anybody with their fearsome foursome of guards. Gaston will be relied on to collect rebounds, seal off driving lanes, and keep the Muskeeters from being abused in the interior. One thing that might give Xavier fans pause is his performance against high majors. In his most recent season, he only played three high major opponents, Vanderbilt, Baylor, and Georgia, all road games. He averaged 6.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in those games while shooting 40.9% from the floor, all significantly lower than his season averages. He has had a year to get Big East ready, but there will be a learning curve from the MEAC.