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

(Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches)

For the fourth year in a row, Paint Touches is taking a look at the top 50 players in the Big East. This started as a small project that I did completely on my own. Last year, I added some other Marquette folks to the fun to try and get some more balance in the rankings. This year, we went a little bigger. We reached out to contributors from all 10 Big East teams. We asked them to pick the top 5 players from their squads. Then we took that list of 50 and sent it to all 10, and asked them to rank the 45 players not from their home team. We averaged those scores to get a truly neutral picture on the top 50 players in the greatest basketball conference in the land. Here are our contributors for this undertaking:

Butler: Lukas Harkins
Creighton: Matt DeMarinis & Patrick Marshall
DePaul: Lawrence Kreymer
Georgetown: Andrew Geiger
Marquette: Yours Truly
Providence: Richard Coren
Seton Hall: Adam Baliatico
St. John’s: Norman Rose
Villanova: Eric Watkins
Xavier: Brad & Joel Dobney

The top 50 is being broken down in to five ten team segments. You can find the other posted segments here: #40-31, #30-21, #20-11, #10-1.

50. Darious Hall of DePaul
6-7 215 lb RSSO SF
14.8 mpg, 5.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.2 bpg, 1.1 tpg, 55.1 eFG% (17-18 stats for Arkansas)
Avg. Rank (out of 45): 43.14
High Rank: 38 (Jackson – MU)
Low Rank: 45 (Harkins – BU/Coren – PC/Rose – SJ)

We start at the bottom of the top 50 and what better place to start than a DePaul Blue Demon? Darious Hall spent his freshman year playing for his home state’s flagship university. As a Razorback, he flashed some potential as a defensive and rebounding specialist. His offense wasn’t prolific but he knew how to pick his spots well and shot for a high eFG%. He does most of his work inside the arc but a 40.6 3P% on limited attempts shows that the range is there. DePaul is known for it’s long and lean defensive switchables. Hall should fit in well with Jaylen Butz and Paul Reed covering the post. This puts him on the wing where he will be one of the largest 3s in the Big East. Still, most of the voters were not impressed by his limited role at Arkansas as he picked up three last place votes and another vote for second to last.

49. Greg Williams Jr of St. John’s
6-3 205 lb SO SG
8.4 mpg, 2.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.5 tpg, 53.8 eFG%
Avg. Rank: 41.71
High Rank: 36 (Watkins – VU)
Low Rank: 45 (Jackson – MU/Baliatico – SH)

Year one of Mike Anderson’s rehabilitation of St. John’s is going to be a tough one. He did well by retaining the services of both Mustapha Heron and LJ Figueroa, but all the other significant players are gone. This means there is an opportunity for Greg Williams, the best member Chris Mullin’s last recruiting class, to earn a starting spot. Williams didn’t get much time last year with a slew of top guards taking all the minutes. In the minutes he did get, he showed some hard nosed defense to pair with some decent PG skills. Norman Rose of Rumble in the Garden describes Williams Jr. as “athletic and aggressive” and points out that Williams started to carve out a bigger role late last season. The defense is definitely there but Williams will need to develop more of an offensive game than he showed at any point last season. He has only eclipsed four points twice in his career, and one of those came against bottom feeder St. Francis (NY). For what it’s worth, we put a St. John’s player at #49 last year too…LJ Figureoa ended up being pretty good.

T-47. Christian Bishop of Creighton
6-7 205 lb SO SF
8.2 mpg, 4.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.5 bpg, 0.9 tpg, 67.1 eFG%
Avg. Rank: 38
High Rank: 33 (Dobney – XA)
Low Rank: 43 (Baliatico – SH)

When Jacob Epperson went down with injury last season, freshman Christian Bishop was forced to go from seldom used benchwarmer to a crucial backup to big man Martin Krampelj. The Jays had a solid stable of guards hitting shots from everywhere but were limited on big men, especially without Epperson. They face a similar situation this season as all the guards are back but Krampelj is gone, leaving Bishop as the leading candidate to be the lone big(gish) man in a sea of short snipers. Bishop didn’t get many minutes last season, but he made the most of all of them. He was second on the team in points per 40 and second on the team in rebounding %. His eFG of 67.1% is top on this list. Plus, his best stretch of the season came in Creighton’s NIT run where he averaged 8.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks over three games. Bishop has all the signs of a player primed for a breakout season. Despite this, voters placed him near the bottom because college basketball is a prove it business. Until Bishop’s play demands more minutes, I think the voters weren’t going to give him the benefit of the doubt. Still, if the Jays are hoping to return to the NCAA tourney, a lot is riding on the development of Mr. Bishop.

T-47. Charlie Moore of DePaul
5-11 180 lb RSJR PG
13.1 mpg, 2.9 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 1.3 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.9 tpg, 36.5 eFG% (stats for Kansas)
Avg. Rank: 38
High Rank: 27 (Baliatico – SH)
Low Rank: 43 (Geiger – GT)

Oh DePaul. Four players in and the voters have already designated our second Blue Demon  and he is the second one who was most recently playing for another team. Charlie Moore is returning to his native Chicago after a meandering journey out west and then to the middle of America’s Heartland. Moore was a freshman star for the Golden Bears of California but decided to skip town along with then coach Cuonzo Martin. At the time, Moore claimed he was moving home to be near family…so naturally he moved to Lawrence, KS to be a Jayhawk. The step up in competition did not agree with him as he turned into a bit role player and an inefficient one at that. When he transferred again, he actually moved back home and got a waiver to be immediately eligible. Now that he’s gone from Blue Blood to Blue Demon, Moore should see his role increase dramatically. If he wants to be successful, he will need to get back the flamethrower offensive game that earned him Mr. Basketball in his Morgan Park days. DePaul will need all the floor spacing they can to make room for Paul Reed and Jaylen Butz to operate.

46. Ian Steere of St. John’s
6-9 260 lb SO PF
2018 3.5 star PF – ranked #139 by 247Composite
Avg. Rank: 37.71
High Rank: 31 (Dobney – XA)
Low Rank: 43 (Harkins – BU)

DePaul may have been first on the board with two players, but St. John’s won’t be undone on this race to the bottom. Midseason transfer Ian Steere checks in as the second Johnnie picked by the voters. A long time ago Steere was a Creighton commit but he bucked the Jays in favor of hometown NC State. The local love affair did not last long as it only took one five-minute appearance in the season opener to convince Steere to look for greener pastures. He found them in the concrete jungle of Queens where Norman Rose of Rumble in the Garden has him pegged as the starting 5 as soon as he becomes eligible. Rose notes that Steere was brought in to “make an impact crashing the glass on both ends.” Steere will need to as he is the only player on the roster besides seldom used sophomore Josh Roberts who stands above 6-7. Steere being able to play effectively for long stretches will be needed to keep St. John’s from finishing in the deepest part of the cellar.

T-44. Rasheem Dunn of St. John’s
6-2 190 lb RSJR SG
30.9 mpg, 15.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.0 bpg, 2.1 tpg, 44.2 eFG% (17-18 stats for St. Francis [NY])
Avg. Rank: 36.43
High Rank: 18 (Dobney -XA)
Low Rank: 44 (Harkins – BU)

The voters do not have a lot of faith in the bottom of St. John’s roster. Don’t worry Red Storm fans, you may be the first to three on the board but it will be a long time before you hear your name called again. Rasheem Dunn was overlooked coming out of high school with only a handful of low major offers to his name. He ended up playing just down the street from home at St. Francis in Brooklyn. Dunn was an instant star for the Terriers, averaging 13.1 points as a freshman and stealing everything not nailed down from opposing ballhandlers. His sophomore year showed growth across the board and he decided it was time for a bigger challenge. He transferred to Cleveland State, a half step up in competition. Before he could lace them up as a Viking, head coach Dennis Felton was given his walking papers. Dunn decided to return home to the Big Apple, now playing at the highest level there is. Dunn has some really good looking numbers at first glance but the concern is going to be how he adjusts to Big East level play. The NEC is the worst conference in Division 1 and the few times Dunn did play against high major defenses, it wasn’t pretty. 12 points on 2 of 7 shooting (NC State), 2 points on 0 of 5 (Virginia), 5 points on 1 of 6 (Providence), and 10 points on 5 of 13 (Notre Dame). Those are the level of defenses that Dunn will see every night in conference play and he will need to prove that he can navigate them if he’s going to be an effective third scoring option behind LJ Figueroa and Mustapha Heron.

T-44. Ed Morrow Jr of Marquette
6-7 235 lb RSSR PF
15.0 mpg, 5.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.6 bpg, 1.3 tpg, 58.8 FG%
Avg. Rank: 36.43
High Rank: 31 (Watkins – VU)
Low Rank: 40 (Harkins – BU)

While I can’t fault the voters for putting Ed Morrow in the bottom 10, I think I can safely assume that none of them would have had the nerve to put him there if they had to cast their votes with Morrow looking over their ballots in person. While he didn’t put up the biggest numbers, Morrow brought a level of ferocity and intimidation that few can match. His calling card is his rebounding as he led the Golden Eagles in rebounding%, mostly on the strength of whopping 15.7% offensive rebounding%. On the rare occasion that Sam Hauser or Markus Howard missed last season, there was a good chance that Morrow was there to clean it up. One things that should give opponents pause is that Morrow was playing hurt last season and is supposedly 100% heading into the new year. And as intimidating as that is…what is really scary is that Morrow isn’t even the biggest bruiser on Wojo’s squad. He and Theo John with support from incoming grad transfer Jayce Johnson will make up one of the most formidable frontcourts in the BEast. The challenge of course will be how to play all those bigs together. Wojo has traditionally liked having a stretch 4….and Morrow’s range is five feet on a good day. There will need to be offensive adjustments in order for Morrow to be effective.

43. Jaylen Butz of DePaul
6-9 224 lb JR PF
22.8 mpg, 6.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.5 bpg, 1.3 tpg, 57.6 eFG%
Avg. Rank: 35.29
High Rank: 28 (Coren – PC)
Low Rank: 31 (Geiger – GT)

In the second term of Head Coach Dave Leitao, DePaul’s trademark has been long and quick forwards who specialize on the defensive end. Rising junior Jaylen Butz fits that mold to a T. He has the size to bang with the posts and enough speed to keep up with all but the fastest of wings. His numbers don’t jump off the page at first glance but last season he had moments of dominance on the glass. He had four games with double digit rebounds including a 15-rebound performance against Penn State in the non-conference season. He’s not known as a scorer but has a few decent moves around the post and can shoot from about 10 feet out with decent consistency. Random fact, Butz is one of three players in school history to shoot 100% from the floor in 2 or more games with at least 5 field goals attempts. Butz’ next challenge will be to keep his efficient offense while increasing his role. His usage was second lowest on the team last season and that won’t fly with so much of DePaul’s offense gone to graduation. Even if the offense doesn’t come, he will be a key piece of the Blue Demon’s smothering defense. With Darious Hall and Paul Reed on his left and right, there will be a lot of arms getting in the way of anyone who dares to drive.

42. Justin Moore of Villanova
6-4 210 lb FR SG
4-star recruit, ranked #57 by 247SportsComposite
Avg. Rank: 35
High Rank: 28 (Jackson – MU)
Low Rank: 41 (Harkins – BU)

When I got the top five Wildcats back from Eric Watkins, the first four names were not a shock but the fifth one was at first glance. Rather than 5-star freshman Bryan Antoine, 4-star Justin Moore was Watkins’ pick for the fifth starter. It made more sense once Watkins pointed that Antoine was hurt and had been sidelined for the whole offseason. Antoine is expected back sometime in December but who knows what his condition will be, which opens up the door for Moore. Moore is a Maryland native who had his own trouble with injuries during his high school days. As a sophomore he tore his left ACL during an awkward landing (after dunking on two guys). This slowed some of his hype as his recruiting rankings fell, many of them into the triple digits. Once healthy, he made up for it with a vengeance, leading DeMatha Catholic to state title game as a junior. His deadeye three-point shooting and superior court vision led to him getting an invite to rep the US of A in the Nike Hoop Summit as a senior. Moore has PG skills in a body that can play either the 2 or the 3. His athletic ability should make him a nice compliment to rising junior Collin Gillespie in the backcourt. The question will be how quickly he can make the transition from dominating high schoolers to facing Big East caliber men every night.

41. Ike Obiagu of Seton Hall
7-2 265 lb RSSO C
10.7 mpg, 2.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.1 apg, 0.2 spg, 2.1 bpg, 0.7 tpg, 57.9 eFG% (17-18 stats for Florida State)
Avg. Rank: 34.57
High Rank: 26 (Geiger -GT)
Low Rank: 42 (Watkins – VU)

If you  pried your eyes away from the spectacle that was Myles Powell’s scoring, you may have noticed a mountain of a man sitting at the end of the Seton Hall bench last season. That giant is Ike Obiagu, a 7’2” 260 lb wall who originally hails from Nigeria. Obiagu started his career at Florida State where he carved out about 10 minutes a game as a back up center. Keep in mind that with big men like Mfiondu Kabengele and Christ Koumadje ahead of him on the roster, his lack of minutes may be more about the quality of the Seminole bigs than the quality of Obiagu. Obiagu transferred to the Hall seeking a bigger role and the graduation of Michael Nzei leaves a starting spot primed for him to step into. To no one’s surprise, Obiagu’s calling card is his defense. He led the Seminoles (and was 5th in the ACC) with 2.1 blocks per game despite his limited minutes. That translates out to an absolutely absurd block% of 20.9%. Equally unsurprising is the foul trouble a man of his size can get into. His fouls per 40 was 6.6 meaning a bigger role may mean more frequent foul trouble for the big man. Offense is going to be the question mark for Mr. Obiagu. Besides a 4/5 performance against Loyola (MD), Obiagu never scored more than 2 FGs in a game. As a freshman he lacked any sort of post-up ability other than simply being tall. His range is the rim and while he can get to the line, he can’t finish there as he shot a dreadful 31.6% from the charity stripe. Still, Obiagu should be an excellent fit on a Seton Hall team set up to challenge for the Big East crown. Powell brings enough offense by himself and Obiagu’s presence will allow Seton Hall’s guards to be aggressive on the perimeter. If Powell or Myles Cale bite too hard on a steal attempt, Obiagu will be there to intimidate any attempt at an easy layup.

Tags: , , ,

Categories: Analysis, Offseason

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic


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