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Top 50 Players in the Big East: #30-21

Marquette Men's Basketball

Marquette Men’s Basketball

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. You can find our past segments here: #50-41, #40-31

30. Jessie Govan of Georgetown
6-0 270 lb JR C
21.0 mpg, 10.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.4 apg, 0.5 spg, 1.0 bpg, 1.7 tpg, 54.0 eFG%

Jessie Govan is the only player on our list to have the same ranking this year that he did on last year’s list, which probably means we ranked him a little too high a year ago. Govan did take our advice in last year’s article and became a lot more focused on using his size to post up opponents rather than shooting jumpshots in the mid-range and his eFG% saw a nice little boost as a result. He excelled at scoring as the roll man in pick and roll situations. And while he was not a great rebounder for his size, he tended to finish with authority whenever he did manage an offensive rebound. Georgetown was often a two man show last season with LJ Peak and Rodney Pryor taking the lead. They often were not enough and getting Govan involved in the offense may have been their greatest indicator of success. They were 7-2 in games where Govan scored at least 14 points as opposed to 7-16 in games where he didn’t. Included in that 7-2 were four of the five Big East wins they managed last season.

Well, here we are. Still in the bottom half of the top 50 and we have found our top five Hoyas. Govan will lead a motley bunch for Coach Ewing in his first season and will need to play a lot more minutes than he did in either of his first two seasons. Without the scoring threats of Peak and Pryor, teams will be keying in on the frontcourt and crowding the lane, giving Govan little room to operate. Without a quality PG to get Govan the ball in good spots, it could be a very rough season for Georgetown. Still, Govan brings a level of finesse and shooting to go along with a huge frame. This rare combination could make him a lethal weapon for Georgetown. His defense needs a lot of work as he was often pushed around and out maneuvered by much smaller post players last season. How fortunate that Govan is now being coached by one of the greatest centers to ever play the game.

29. Tyler Wideman of Butler
6-8 240 lb SR PF
23.0 mpg, 7.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.8 bpg, 1.1 tpg, 61.5 eFG%

Tyler Wideman has been holding down the middle for Butler for the past two seasons. He’s a bit undersized at 6-8 240, but he has an unparalleled motor that allows him to beat out larger posts for rebounds and grab most 50-50 balls. Wideman saw his minutes reduced slightly last season and as a result he put up less impressive numbers across the board compared to his sophomore season. His rebounds, assists, steals, and especially his blocks all dropped significantly. He was also drawing less fouls. He made up for this by increasing his efficiency on offense, raising his eFG% to an impressive 61.5% which is good for top five on this list.

While Butler doesn’t lose anyone from the post, the scoring that was brought by Kethan Savage, Avery Woodson, and Tyler Lewis will need to be made up somewhere. With Wideman being definitively one of the three best players on Butler, he could be called upon to have an expanded offensive role. He only cracked double digits five times last season (and all 5 were against non-at large tournament teams) but that should change this season. Key to that will be keeping him out of foul trouble, he averaged 3.5 fouls as a sophomore and 3 as a junior. Wideman will be sharing the post with two true centers in Nate Fowler and Joey Brunk. Wideman is significantly ahead of both of them but they bring some size that Wideman cannot. That lack of size is why Wideman is a poor post defender, often getting backed down easily by true centers. He does have some athleticism though that allows him to get out and challenge jumpshooters very well.

28. Emmitt Holt of Providence
6-7 240 lb SR PF
27.5 mpg, 12.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.8 bpg, 1.4 tpg, 56.0 eFG%

The biggest concern for Providence going into last season was the lack of size in the post. An undersized JUCO transfer who was most famous for hitting his teammate with a car was projected to be the starter. No one outside of Rhode Island had very high hopes for the Friars or Emmitt Holt. Both proved the doubters wrong in a big way. Holt started his career as a Friar by dropping 22 points and 3 blocks on the Catamounts of Vermont, a very solid low major club. He never reached 22 points again, but he ended up in the double digits for most of his remaining games, including four double doubles. He ended up finishing second on the team in points, rebounds, and blocks.

We’re almost halfway done and Holt is our first Friar on the list. Paint Touches is expecting big things out of this Providence squad. With every starter returning, Holt will return to his role of undersized 5. He’ll struggle on defense, often getting abused by traditional post players, but the mismatches he creates with his speed and shooting on the opposite end will more than make up for it. Of course, this is all assuming Holt actually suits up this season. Ominous news came out in early October that Holt had been dealing with “an abdominal issue” for weeks and is expected to miss the beginning of the season. Information is limited at this point but rumors seem to be saying that he could be lost for the season. If true, it would be a devastating blow to hopeful Friar fans. Thoughts and prayers to young Mr. Holt.

27. Makai Ashton-Langford of Providence
6-3 185 lb FR PG
4-star PG, ranked #40 overall by 247 Composite

Makai Ashton-Langford (or MAL as I’ll be calling him), originally committed to be a Husky of UConn. In the end, it had come down to either UConn or Providence and the Friars played the role of bridesmaid instead of bride. When Associate Head Coach Glenn Miller left the Huskies, it was enough for MAL to decide to leave the wasteland that is the American Athletic Conference. Coach Cooley wasted no time and reeled in the Brewster Academy product a mere 10 days later. A consensus top 50 recruit, MAL had been recruited by just about everyone on the East Coast. He is a big playmaking guard with a reputation for making every player around him better.

From zero to two Friars in the blink of an eye. MAL is the second highest rated recruit in the Big East’s class of 2017 and the highest ranked Friar recruit since Kris Dunn. He should slide nicely into the backcourt alongside the distribution machine that is Kyron Cartwright. Together, they will form one of the strongest backcourts in the conference. MAL will continue what has now become a proud tradition of dominant Friar point guards. Since 2009, the Friars have been helmed by either Vincent Council, Bryce Cotton, Kris Dunn, or Kyron Cartwright. Providence’s status as PG U is one of the main reasons for their continued success under Coach Cooley.

26. Toby Hegner of Creighton
6-10 240 RSSR PF
16.7 mpg, 5.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.3 bpg, 0.4 tpg, 59.7 eFG%

It just wouldn’t be Creighton basketball if there wasn’t some tall white guy nailing threes from the corner. For the past three seasons, Toby Hegner has been one of the players filling in that role for the Jays. The scruffy looking cheesehead has been a constant bench presence but has seen his minutes reduce every season. This past season may have had his lowest stat totals, but it was by far his most efficient. His 3P% of 44.4% was one of the best in the conference and his eFG% of 59.7% is top 10 on this list. The most surprising aspect of Hegner’s game last season was his defense. I had to run the numbers twice to be sure but Hegner’s points per possession allowed was an elite .705. In the 149 times when a possession ended with his defensive assignment, Hegner only allowed 105 points. Those numbers put him in the 89th percentile in the country and tied for top of this list (with Butler’s Sean McDermott). Hegner does a solid jump challenging jumpshooters and is excellent at shutting down pick and roll plays.

Hegner has been in the role of sixth man for three seasons now but we believe that this is the year where he finally gets to shine. With Cole Huff graduated, there is a gaping hole at the stretch four position just waiting for Hegner to step into. Unfortunately for Creighton, the departure of Justin Patton also leaves a huge void at center. If one of the many unproven options at the 5 doesn’t pan out, it could force Hegner into playing out of position. Wherever he ends up, the advanced stats are there to suggest that Hegner is due for a breakout senior year.

25. Markus Howard of Marquette
5-11 175 lb SO PG
22.0 mpg, 13.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.3 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.1 bpg, 2.0 tpg, 65.8 eFG%

Oh, the angry comments. I’m not going to post this story for weeks and I can already feel the flames from my fellow Marquette fans. How can a Marquette blogger dare to put Markus Howard in the middle of the pack? How can a player, a guard no less, with an eFG% of 65.8%, first on this list, not be at the top? How can a player just picked to the preseason All Big East 2nd Team not be in the top 10? How can last season’s leader in 3P% in all of Division 1 not be in the top five? Simple answer, his defense. As elite as Howard’s offense, his defense was almost equally as bad. In 177 defensive possessions, Howard allowed exactly 177 points for a points per possession allowed of 1. He is one of only two players on this list to have a score of 1 or greater in this stat. The only other is DePaul’s Austin Grandstaff who only appeared in 10 games two seasons ago. Pick and roll was Howard’s weakness. His size made it tough for him to fight through screens and he was consistently burned by stronger guards in isolation. I fully believe he has the ability to improve defensively this season but until he does, it is not fair to ignore that side of the ball.

With scorers Katin Reinhardt, Jajuan Johnson, and offensive minded center Luke Fischer all gone to graduation, Marquette will need to make up those points somewhere. Howard led the team in points last season despite only getting 22 minutes a game. Howard figures to see huge minutes and a point boost to go with it. In fact, Sports Illustrated pegged him as one of the top 10 high major scorers for the upcoming season. Defense will be a concern as he will be paired up with Andrew Rowsey most of the time in the backcourt. Two sub six foot guards makes it tough to challenge shooters on the perimeter. All in all, I expect Howard to challenge for the scoring title in the Big East while maintaining a fairly high eFG%. If he can improve his defense as well, he might just sneak into the All Big East First Team.

24. Kamar Baldwin of Butler
6-1 170 lb SO SG
26.9 mpg, 10.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.7 spg, 0.5 bpg, 1.5 tpg, 55.7 eFG%

Coming out of high school, Kamar Baldwin was ranked in the 125-175 range. A player with that ranking doesn’t scream All-Big East Freshmen Team but that’s exactly where Baldwin ended up by the end of the season. It shouldn’t have been such a surprise. Finding 3-star gems is exactly what Butler is known for. Baldwin started his career as Bulldog by scoring double digit points in 5 of his first 6 games. He faded a bit towards the end of the non-conference season before exploding for 21 points and 9 rebounds in their first game against Xavier. From then on Baldwin was a solid contributor, terrorizing opponents with his steals and finishing in transition.

Kamar Baldwin is yet another name in the “who replaces Tyler Lewis at point” sweepstakes and might be the most likely one to win. The rising sophomore did not spend much time running the point in his first season and his skills line up more with a shooting guard role, but in the interest of keeping the ball in the hands of your best players, Baldwin seems to make the most sense. With both Lewis and Andrew Chrabascz graduated, Baldwin will have to step up his passing game as those two accounted for more than half of Butler’s total assists. He will have solid posts to throw to in Tyler Wideman and Kelan Martin but his other guards remain a bit of a mystery. Expect the ball to be in Baldwin’s hands a lot and to see a big jump in scoring due to increased opportunities.

23. Donte DiVincenzo of Villanova
6-5 205 lb RSSO SG
25.5 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.4 tpg, 55.6 eFG%

Donte DiViencenzo was the 6th man for last year’s dominant Wildcat squad. He is also the….proud?….owner of the worst nickname in college sports, “the Michael Jordan of Delaware.” I can confirm that DiVincenzo is from Delaware, but a Michael Jordan he is not. However, he was a very solid jolt of energy off the bench with a lot of potential to improve. DiVincenzo’s strength is his versatility. He has a lot of different offensive weapons in his arsenal and he can guard any of the guard positions on the perimeter. Marquette fans will remember him fondly as the player who kept chucking up early in the shot clock threes (0-6 from deep that night) which allowed Marquette to come storming back, leading to a storming of a completely different variety.

We’re over halfway though this list and this our first Wildcat. That means that all five of their top players are in the top half of the conference. Having done the whole list, I can tell you that their reserves scored highly as well. DiVincenzo will usually fill in as one of the middle-sized guards in Villanova’s patented four guard offense. Like all Wildcats, he can fill it up from deep, shooting 36.5% from range and having multiple three trey games to his name. Where he really excels is attacking out of the pick and roll. He can get all the way to the rim, pull up in mid-range, or dish to one of the many shooters in blue and white. His defense is solid though nothing outstanding.

22. Paul Scruggs of Xavier
6-3 212 lb FR PG
4.5-star PG, ranked #33 overall by 247 Composite

The honor of highest rated freshmen in the Big East’s powerful class of 2017 goes to Xavier’s Paul Scruggs. The Indianapolis native went to prep school on the west coast but played AAU for the Indy Hoosiers. At both locations he established himself as a terror in the lane. He has a Big East ready body and excels at bullying defenders on his way to the rim. He uses that same strength to contain opponents on the perimeter and deny penetration. Those skills earned him a #33 overall ranking from the 247 Composite and offers from the likes of Kansas, Louisville, and Michigan State.

Scruggs joins a Xavier roster that is already lousy with talented guards. With Trevonn Blueitt, JP Macura, and Quentin Goodin returning to the starting lineup it could be hard for a true freshman to break in. But Scruggs has too much talent to sit on the bench and will demand significant minutes. Scruggs’ strength and defense brings an element to the Musketeer backcourt that is currently missing. He can play either the 1 or 2 position and will be a part of Xavier’s signature four guard offense. The thing that could hold Scruggs back is his outside shot. He only made 30% of his long range shots in AAU and is likely to shoot an even lower percentage in college.

21. Jalen Lindsey of Providence
6-7 225 lb SR SF
31.1 mpg, 10.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.7 tpg, 61.6 eFG%

Jalen Lindsey arrived at Providence as a top-rated recruit with a reputation as deadeye shooter from range. His first two seasons left a lot to be desired. Lindsey let the shots fly as a freshman and sophomore but the results were unimpressive at best. As a freshman he shot a mediocre 33% from range and as a sophomore he shot a dismal 26.9%. Something finally clicked for Lindsey as a junior. He remade his shot and became the best three-point shooter in the Big East that doesn’t wear blue and gold. His eFG% of 61.6% is absurdly high and ranks as fourth overall on this list.

Lindsey will return to his role as the sniping specialist in the Friar starting lineup. His ability to stretch the floor will be essential to maximizing the talents of Kyron Cartwright, MAL, and Emmitt Holt (if he returns). Lindsey is a bit of a one trick pony, almost all his points came off spot up jumpers from beyond the arc. 73% of his made field goals were three pointers as well as 77% of his attempts. But when you are good as that one trick as Lindsey is at shooting, that is not a bad thing. His points per possession are in the 99th percentile for all of Division 1. Defensively, he is average, but his speed and length allow him to cover multiple positions.

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Categories: Analysis, Home, Offseason

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic

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