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Top 50 Players in the Big East: #50-41

2017 Marquette Madness

Photo by Ryan Messier/ Paint Touches

For the second year in a row, 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. We did it this way because if we didn’t, poor Georgetown wouldn’t be represented. 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 debate and will hopefully inspire some reaction and discussion. Love our picks? Vehemently disagree? Put them in the comments below.

The top 50 is being broken down in to five ten team segments. We’ll start with #50-41.

50. Aaron Thompson of Butler
6-2 190 lb FR PG
3-star PG, ranked #171 by 247 Composite

When Chris Holtmann was snatched up late in the coaching carousel by Ohio State, there were two recruits who had Butler fans holding their breath for a possible decommittment. The first was Kyle Young who ultimately followed Holtmann to Ohio State. The other was Aaron Thompson. The Virginia native had already changed schools once before, he had been committed to Pittsburgh before joining the mass exodus of talent from Pitt that occurred early in the offseason. Fortunately for Bulldog fans, Thompson choose school over coach and will be lacing them up for Butler this season.

Thompson is a speedy guard who is not afraid to get physical when he needs to. His greatest skill is his court vision, he has a natural ability to setup his teammates for big plays. He has a high basketball IQ and that will allow to step in and be an immediate contributor for Butler even if his shooting still needs some polish. His main competition for the starting PG gig is Paul Jorgensen, the transfer from George Washington. Butler fans have high hopes for Jorgensen but the stats don’t support it. He was a backup for a not great George Washington team….and not the kind of backup with great advanced stats just waiting for his opportunity. New Butler skipper LaVall Jordan has been very complimentary of Thompson though is far from tipping his hand yet. Thompson is our pick to earn that starting spot and while he is the bottom player on our top 50, there is a lot of potential there that might allow him to play beyond his humble ranking from the 247 Composite.

49. Austin Grandstaff of Depaul
6-4 185 lb RSSO SF
11.5 mpg, 4.4 ppg, 0.3 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.6 tpg, 53.7 eFG% (15-16 stats for Ohio State, only appeared in 10 games)

The saga of Austin Grandstaff is a long and strange one. He was ranked #54 overall by 247 Composite after averaging over 29 points a game for Rockwall High. Even back then, Grandstaff had a reputation as a bit of a chucker but his scoring ability more than made up for it. He committed to Ohio State over offers from several high majors, including Marquette. He played 10 games for Ohio State coming off the bench and generally struggling. Grandstaff’s father quoted inconsistent minutes as the main reason for the transfer. True or not, the rumors peg the senior Grandstaff as a bit of a handful. Austin ended up transferring closer to home at Oklahoma for the spring of 2016, only to transfer again in May. No specific reason was given but it seemed like the commitment of Jordan Shepard might have been a factor. It would be funny if true because Shepherd didn’t end up being an impact player as a freshman.

Grandstaff comes to Depaul with a reputation as a shooter, though he didn’t show that at Ohio State, only hitting 33% of his attempts. It was a small sample size but Grandstaff showed a tendency to chuck up shots as soon as they were available, and added almost nothing in other areas of the game. He has more transfers to his name than career assists, blocks, and free throws. Not only that, but he showed no ability on the defensive end either. He ranks dead last on this list for points per possession allowed…and its not particularly close. Again, it’s a small sample size, but its not like he was defending a bunch of world beaters in those 10 games either. Still, its been a year and half since Grandstaff played, it’s possible the time away has given him time to improve.

48. Sean McDermott of Butler
6-6 190 lb RSSO SF
10.7 mpg, 2.3 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.3 tpg, 55.7 eFG%

Uh oh, three picks in and we already have two Bulldogs on the list. I can feel the angry comments already. Don’t worry Butler fans, we don’t see our third Bulldog for a quite a while. McDermott spent his redshirt freshman season as the last guy in the rotation for Coach Holtmann. With four players above him on the depth chart now graduated, and a recruiting class with talent but not necessarily immediate impact players, McDermott has the change to propel himself into the heart of the rotation.

McDermott didn’t put much up in terms of raw numbers. He only got a couple of points a game and only had a handful of rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks to his name. What he did bring was a strong defensive presence. His length and speed allowed him to shut down both speedy guards and larger wings. His points per possession allowed was in the top 10% of all division 1 players last season, and is actually tied for first (with Creighton’s Toby Hegner) on this top 50 list. The most impressive aspect of his defensive ability is how he could shut down the pick and roll. In 17 attempts to use the pick and roll on McDermott, he only allowed 5 total points. It was a small sample size (only 98 defensive possessions last season), so his numbers are likely to go down, but McDermott could be a solid defensive playmaker for Butler. His offense and rebounding will need to come along if he wants to move up on this list by season’s end.

47. Jagan Mosely of Georgetown
6-3 205 lb SO SG
20.0 mpg, 4.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.5 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.2 bpg, 1.4 tpg, 41.8 eFG%

Coming out of high school Mosley was ranked in the 125-175 range for his class. With experienced guards in LJ Peak and Rodney Pryor coming back, Mosley was expected to play a minor role, most likely as a backup for a quality team. Instead, Georgetown wasn’t nearly as good as advertised and Mosely was thrust into a much more prominent role. Looking ahead to next season Mosely look to be the starting PG.

Mosley is a physical and bruising guard who likes to bully smaller guards on the perimeter. He earns his keep with his defense. His points per possession allowed of 0.74 is in the top 15% of all Division 1 players and in the top 5 of players on this list. Unfortunately, his offense is every bit as bad as his defense is good. He is a poor jump shooter and doesn’t have the ball handling skills to break down a defense on his own. His eFG% is the second lowest on this top 50 (behind Xavier’s Quentin Goodin). Mosely will bring defense and distribution to a team that is desperate for offense.

46. Jamal Cain of Marquette
6-7 190 lb FR SF
3 star SF, ranked #143 by 247 Composite

Anyone who watched Marquette last season knows that they were filled to the brim with skill players but lacked athleticism. Jamal Cain is the answer to that deficit. He brings a level of explosiveness that has not been seen in Milwaukee for years. Coach Wojo was quoted as saying that Cain is the best athlete has had since taking the Marquette job. Cain wasn’t always the athletic rim rattler that he is now. He started his career as a three-point specialist and he hasn’t lost that shooting touch. To summarize, he has length to defend multiple positions, superior athleticism, and three-point shooting touch…. oh….and he can do this.

Marquette has a solid trio of starters in Howard, Rowsey, and Hauser, leaving two starting spots up for grabs. Cain comes in as the top-rated recruit in Marquette’s 2017 class and he brings a skillset that Marquette is currently lacking. He will compete with junior Haanif Cheatham who went through season long offensive struggles a year ago. Cain may not end up in the starting lineup because a center like Matt Heldt or Harry Froling may need to add some size, but Cain figures to be an immediate contributor to Marquette’s rotation.

45. Max Strus of DePaul
6-6 215 lb RSJR SG
36.2 mpg, 20.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.8 bpg, 3.3 tpg, 52.5 eFG% (15-16 stats for D2 Lewis University)

If you are scratching your head and wondering who the hell Max Strus is, you are not alone. Most of America doesn’t pay attention to division two basketball but if you happened to be a fan, Strus is a name you would have heard often. The first two seasons of his career, the wing from Suburbia Chicago has been putting up monster numbers for the Flyers of Lewis University. He led his team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals and led them to an appearance in the D2 version of March Madness. He is a three-level scorer with elite accuracy on spot up jump shots and some ability to beat defenders off the bounce.

It’s not often that a transfer from the D2 ranks could end up starting in the Big East, but the rare combination of talent from Strus and lack of talent from DePaul means that he will have the opportunity to get the starting nod. Strus gives DePaul another switchable to run out with Eli Cain and Tre’Darius McCallum giving them a very versatile lineup. His offense, rebounding, and passing ability should translate decently to the Big East but his defense is another question. He was an average at best defender at the D2 level and its hard to imagine him shutting down wings like Trevon Bluiett or Desi Rodriguez. Strus will be a nice piece for DePaul but it’s a problem anytime a former D2 player is a likely starter for your team.

44. Trey Dickerson of Georgetown
6-0 185 lb RSSR PG
22.4 mpg, 10.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.8 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.8 tpg, 46.3 eFG% (stats for South Dakota)

Trey Dickerson started his career at the JUCO level, earning an NJCAA All-American distinction while playing for Williston State. He turned this performance into a high major scholarship offer, committing to play for the Iowa Hawkeyes during the 14-15 season. Dickerson underwhelmed at Iowa, earning the last spot in the rotation and not doing much with the few minutes that he did get. He transferred after one season in Iowa City, and decided to join his former coach at Williston State who had been hired as an assistant at South Dakota. After sitting out the mandatory year, Dickerson earned a starting role, settling in nicely as the third scoring option for the Coyotes. He helped lead South Dakota to an NIT appearance, the first in school history.

Recruiting a grad transfer like Dickerson should give you a sense of how desperate Coach Ewing was for players in his first season in the big chair. South Dakota may have been a sneaky good low major, but they were still a Summit league program. And it’s not like Dickerson was the stud of South Dakota. He was maybe their third best player. And not the type of third best player that had efficient advanced stats that might hint that he could be a star with more usage. His advanced stats, both offense and defense were very mediocre. Dickerson is going to be asked to carry the scoring the backcourt for the Hoyas given that his running mates are Jonathan Mulmore and Jagan Mosely. Still, you have to give Ewing credit for responding quickly to a need. Georgetown was hurting for experience in the backcourt with LJ Peak going pro and Tremont Waters decommitting. Dickerson can help for a season while Ewing gets his bearings.

43. Marin Maric of DePaul
6-11 240 lb RSSR C
28.5 mpg, 14.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.5 bpg, 2.3 tpg, 57.6 eFG% (stats for Northern Illinois)

DePaul wasted no time this offseason addressing the lack of height they experienced during the last season. Marin Maric was a beast in the post for the Northern Illinois Huskies netting 12 double doubles, including 6 in a row to end the season. Maric is a native of Croatia and fits the mold of your classic Eastern European big man, a lot of skill to go with his size and solid rebounding. What he doesn’t bring is rim protection. He shies away from contact and is often beaten by more physical big men. He does have some shooting range but its not a go to weapon.

Only seven players in we already have three Blue Demons. Coach Letaio continues to improve the talent in Lincoln Park but escaping the basement is a long and slow process. Maric figures to be an instant starter for DePaul if for no other reason than the lack of other options in the post. DePaul spent most of last season with 6-7 Tre’Darius McCallum manning the center position and their only two scholarship players who stood taller than 6-7, Levi Cook and Al Eichelberger, both transferred over the summer. Maric will start at center which will allow the versatile McCallum to move to a much more natural position at the 4. The balance alone will help the Blue Demons improve significantly. Still, there is a problem when you are a Big East team and a transfer from Northern Illinois is projected to be one of your best players. DePaul will close the gap a bit on Georgetown but they still won’t catch them.

42. Michell Ballock of Creighton
6-5 205 lb FR SG
4-star SG, ranked #93 overall by 247 Composite

Mitchell Ballock is a top 100 recruit out of tiny Eudora, Kansas, a city just outside of Lawrence. Ballock held several high major offers including one from his hometown Jayhawks but he spurned them all in favor of the Jays of Creighton. Anytime you can land a kid from KU’s backyard with a Jayhawk offer it is a huge accomplishment and one that is likely to pay immediate dividends. Ballock is a shooting guard in the truest sense of the term. He has unlimited ranged and a very confident trigger finger. What separates him from other recruits is his ball handling ability. He can abuse defenders on the perimeter and end up with a wide open jump shot or an open lane to the basket.

Creighton has been the hardest team to pin down a for sure top five players. They have an obvious top three but it gets a little hazy after that. Kaleb Joseph is the latest high major rehab project in Omaha but his stats at Syracuse were so dismal it’s hard to justify him as one of their top 5. Davion Mintz got the starting job after Mo Watson went down but generally struggled sometimes losing his spot to walk on Tyler Clement. Manny Suarez was a beast last season but for a D2 school. Martin Krampelj has some decent advanced stats but barely got off the bench last season. Ronnie Harrell is a fan favorite but his advanced stats were aggressively mediocre. In the end we decided to go with the top-rated members of Creighton’s very talented recruiting class. They might not get the starts right away, but they will have every opportunity to compete for major minutes in their first season in Omaha.

41. Tariq Owens of St. John’s
6-11 205 lb RSJR PF
18.8 mpg, 5.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.6 spg, 2.2 bpg, 0.9 tpg, 50.4 eFG%

Before the beginning of last season, very few people were talking about Tariq Owens. He was one of Coach Mullin’s first additions as the coach of the Red Storm and many people wrote it off as a program that was desperate to get warm bodies in uniform. After all, Owens was a very back of the rotation player for a mediocre Tennessee team, how much could truly be expected of him? Owens surprised greatly his first season, using his long bean pole of a frame to capture rebounds and swat incoming shots with absolute authority. Most of the season he outplayed fellow big man Kassoum Yakwe, creating more production in slightly less minutes. The two together created a terrifying combo for any guard bold enough to try and penetrate the lane.

No one is mistaking Owens for an offensive juggernaut in the post (his career high is 12 points), but that is not what St. John’s needs. With high octane guards and wings like Ponds, LoVett, Ahmed, Clark, and Simon in the fold, the Red Storm need a player who can rebound and protect the rim roaming the paint for them. Rebounding and blocking shots are what Owens excels at, but his ability to protect the rim is more questionable. Owens is a classic case of a player who is thought of as a great defender because he gets a lot of blocks, but actually struggles on defense. His points per possession allowed ranked in the bottom 40% of all D1 players. Part of this was due to how often he committed fouls with a whopping 3.2 a game and 7 foul outs for the season. The reality with Owens defense was that he would either block a shot (usually with emphasis), commit a foul, or would give up a bucket. He has put on a little weight since last March. Hopefully that and an offseason of work will help make him more of a well rounded defender.

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Categories: Analysis, Home

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic

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