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Top 50 Players in the Big East: #40-31

Marquette Men’s Basketball

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 https://bustingbrackets.com/author/lharkins/
Creighton: Matt DeMarinis & Patrick Marshall https://whiteandbluereview.com/
DePaul: Lawrence Kreymer https://depauliaonline.com/
Georgetown: Andrew Geiger https://www.casualhoya.com/
Marquette: Yours Truly https://painttouches.com/
Providence: Richard Coren https://247sports.com/college/providence/
Seton Hall: Adam Baliatico https://setonhall.rivals.com/
St. John’s: Norman Rose https://www.rumbleinthegarden.com/
Villanova: Eric Watkins https://247sports.com/college/villanova/
Xavier: Brad & Joel Dobney https://www.bannersontheparkway.com/

The top 50 is being broken down in to five ten team segments. You can find the other posted segments here: #50-41, #30-21, #20-11, #10-1.

40. Jason Carter of Xavier
6-8 227 lb RSJR PF
31.0 mpg, 16.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.7 bpg, 1.8 tpg, 51.2 eFG% (stats for Ohio)
Avg. Rank: 34.43
High Rank: 17 (Jackson – MU)
Low Rank: 44 (Coren – PC)

Every time a player steps on the court, it is an audition for their future playing career. Usually, it’s not quite as literal as it was for Jason Carter on December 5th of 2018. The Musketeers were taking on the Ohio Bobcats and Carter scored a team high 17 points for Ohio. It wasn’t nearly enough to knock off Xavier, but it may have been enough to get him a scholarship offer. Only one day after the season ended, Carter had pledged himself to be a Musketeer. It only took three years for Carter to graduate and a season ending leg injury his sophomore year means that he is immediately eligible and has two years left to play. Carter is a strong scorer in the post and a crafty rebounder. He has a nose for the ball and knows how to get in position for a rebound. He has range out to the three-point line though it has never been a consistent weapon for him. Getting used to banging against Big East forwards will be the adjustment he needs to make. Some of the worst games of his career came against the best the Bobcat’s schedule had to offer (game against Xavier notwithstanding).

39. JaMarko Pickett of Georgetown
6-8 205 lb JR SF
23.6 mpg, 6.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.8 spg, 1.0 bpg, 1.6 tpg, 48.3 eFG%
Avg. Rank: 34.29
High Rank: 16 (Watkins – VU)
Low Rank: 43 (Jackson – MU)

This is the third year that JaMarko Pickett has cracked our top 50. Pickett was the first big commit of the Patrick Ewing era at Georgetown and has been a starter from day one. His freshman season culminated with a spot on the All-Big East Freshman Team but his sophomore campaign saw his minutes drop significantly. This took a toll on his raw scoring and rebounding numbers but he did shoot a little more efficiently (he set a low bar his first year) and cut down on the turnovers that plagued him year one. He also realized his potential of being a disruptive shutdown defender. Pickett has enough lateral quickness to guard on the perimeter and has a 7-foot wingspan to keep guards corralled. He provides an important counterbalance to his more offensively minded running mates in the Hoya backcourt.

38. Romeo Weems of DePaul
6-7 210 lb FR SG
4-star FR SG, ranked #62 by 247Composite
Avg. Rank: 32.57
High Rank: 26 (Hankins – BU)
Low Rank: 41 (Rose – SJU)

Romeo Weems shocked the college basketball world a year ago when the Michigan native selected DePaul over both Michigan and Michigan State. At the time, Weems was a top 40 player and most recruiting experts assumed DePaul was an afterthought in his recruitment. But the coaching staff, specifically assistant Tim Anderson built a strong relationship and that carried the day. Weems is an ultra-athletic guard with the 6’7” height and frame that is coveted by NBA scouts. He averaged near 30 points a game in high school and was known as a force on both sides of the glass. Weems is an ideal fit for Coach Leitao’s defensive scheme. He will fill in at the 2G position alongside fellow 6’7”6-9” switchables Darious Hall, Jaylen Butz, and Paul Reed. This will allow a nigh impenetrable wall of hands and long arms denying penetration and challenging outside shooters. How far DePaul can go will be dependent on the offensive ability of newcomers like Weems.

37. LuWane Pipkens of Providence
5-11 180 lb RSJR PG
31.2 mpg, 16.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 5.2 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.1 bpg, 3.0 tpg, 41.4 eFG% (stats for UMass)
Avg. Rank: 32.43
High Rank: 16 (Hankins – BU)
Low Rank: 44 (Watkins – VU)

Providence’s trip to the NIT may have ended early, but that allowed Ed Cooley to get an jump start on the grad transfer market. Not even a week into their offseason, the Friars had their newest addition in grad transfer LuWane Pipkens. Pipkens was an instant starter at UMass who evolved into a mid-major stud as a sophomore. Pipkens lit up the A-10 to the tune of 21 points and 4 assists a game in the 17-18 season. His junior year he focused on being more of a distributor than a scorer. While his 5.2 assists per game were very nice, his scoring numbers really struggled (compared to the previous season). The eFG% is a real concern as Pipkens needed a lot of shots to get his 16 points a game. His recruitment made a lot of sense from Providence’s perspective as point guard play and three-point shooting limited them all last season. Put Pipkens on a roster where he’s not the number one scoring option and we could see those efficiency numbers return to sophomore year form. I do want to point some possible Big East (Coast) Bias here. Only 9 transfers made our top 50 and the voters placed 7 of them in the bottom 14. It’s possible that the voters don’t believe you can hack it in the Big East until you actually play in the Big East.

36. Jordan Tucker of Butler
6-7 220 lb JR SF
22.2 mpg, 9.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.3 tpg, 48.3 eFG%
Avg. Rank: 30.00
High Rank: 22 (Watkins – VU)
Low Rank: 37 (Dobney – XA)

About a third of the way through last season, Butler got a midseason boost from former Dookie Jordan Tucker. Tucker was a bit of a surprise commit to Duke as they usually focus on recruits in the top half of the top 100 rather than the bottom, but Coach K taking a chance on him is a huge endorsement. He didn’t get playing time at Duke but instantly earned big minutes for the Bulldogs. Lukas Harkins of Busting Brackets broke down Tucker’s game like this: “The former top-100 recruit flashed several moments of brilliance during the second half of last season after becoming eligible but could not find consistent success. This was largely due to his struggles with regards to finishing around the rim and that will hopefully be remedied for this coming season. Tucker is ridiculously talented when on his game he could emerge as a top scoring option next to Baldwin. He has the potential to be a matchup nightmare with his 3-point shooting and self-creation at 6-foot-7.” High praise from Mr. Harkins. If Tucker is truly the fifth best Bulldog as the voters project, Butler may be a lot better than some of the pundits expect.

35. Davion Mintz of Creighton
6-3 185 lb SR PG
28.9 mpg, 9.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.1 bpg, 2.2 tpg, 49.1 eFG%
Avg. Rank: 29.38
High Rank: 18 (Coren – PC)
Low Rank: 43 (Rose – SJU)

Davion Mintz is the kind of player you hope to get when you sign a recruit ranked in the 300s. Mintz started as a very back of the rotation player but got thrown into the fire when starting PG Mo Watson Jr tore his ACL. Mintz didn’t take over the starting role outright but he was playing important minutes every game. The following year he started but didn’t get starters’ minute, before finally being a full-blown starter as a junior. Mintz was the least prolific scorer of last season’s high-octane Jay offense, but he played a valuable role both on and off the ball. Of all the players in the Jays’ starting five, Mintz was the only one who played anything resembling defense and he could put up big scoring numbers when called upon. Though if Mintz is the one scoring, it usually means bad news for Creighton. The Jays were 1-5 last season when Mintz scored 15+ points. Mintz will never be a leader on the scoreboard but his passing and defense make him a key cog in McDermott’s game plan.

34. Sacar Anim of Marquette
6-5 210 lb FR PF
30.2 mpg, 8.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.2 tpg, 49.2 eFG%
Avg. Rank: 29.14
High Rank: 19 (Watkins – VU)
Low Rank: 35 (Hankins – BU)

Similar to Davion Mintz before him, Sacar Anim is another example of a 3-star project evolving into a senior starter. As a freshman, he barely played in just over half of the games on the schedule. He had the Big East build but looked lost when he was out on the court. The decision was made to redshirt him to give him a year for the game to slow down for him. Anim came back from the year off and quickly established a reputation as Marquette’s best perimeter defender. He stands only 6’5” and doesn’t have the longest wingspan but he’s pure muscle and speed. It didn’t matter if the opposition’s best player was a point or a bruising forward, if they were scoring, Anim was sent in to slow them down. Defense is his calling card, but his offensive game may actually be the key to Marquette’s success. Marquette was 9-0 when Anim scored 13+ points last season and 8 of those wins came against high major opponents. Marquette was at their best last season when they had a slasher to complement their sharpshooters and Anim was the only one who fit that mold in years past. If he takes another step forward offensively, it could mean very good things for the Golden Eagles.

33. Khalif Battle of Butler
6-5 175 lb FR SG
4-star FR, ranked #99 by 247Composite
Avg. Rank: 28.57
High Rank: 14 (Geiger – GT)
Low Rank: 44 (Rose – SJU)

Gotta say that no final ranking puzzled me more than Khalif Battle. The true freshman out of Trenton was highly coveted with programs like Marquette, Washington, and Syracuse (where his older brother Tyus played) all after his services before he committed to LaVall Jordan’s crew. But based on RCSI rankings and the 247Composite, Battle comes in significantly lower rated than the previously mentioned Justin Moore or Romeo Weems. Mr. Harkins, our Butler contributor is excited about Battle’s prospects and thinks he could be the key to a surprise season: “He can space the floor with his shot, finish above the rim, and defend at a high level. There is a strong possibility that Battle is one of the top freshmen in the entire Big East this season and he could be the “X-Factor” that leads the program to exceed expectations.” Last season, Butler relied on a lot of sets with both 6-foot Kamar Baldwin and 6-foot-2 Paul Joregensen. Jorgensen’s graduation leaves a natural hole for Battle to fill and he will bring similar shooting ability and a lot more size and athleticism to the 2 guard. While I think he may be a tad overranked here, there’s no question that he will be a nightmare for Big East opponents for years to come.

32. Aaron Thompson of Butler
6-2 190 lb PG
27.0 mpg, 6.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 4.3 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.3 bpg, 2.1 tpg, 56.5 eFG%
Avg. Rank: 27.86
High Rank: 16 (Geiger – GT)
Low Rank: 42 (Jackson – MU)

His numbers don’t jump off the page but talk to any Big East guard and you’ll hear nothing but respect for Aaron Thompson. He was a surprise starter as a three-star true freshman and he earned it on the defensive end of the court. Thompson immediately bought into the Butler way and committed himself to the defensive scheme. He was featured in the top 10 for steal% in the Big East in both of his first two seasons. While he shined shutting people down, offense didn’t come as natural to him. His first season saw him only scoring about 4 points a game with poor efficiency. His sophomore year was an improvement as he greatly raised his effectiveness, but the volume still stayed very low. His points per 40 still wasn’t in the double digits but he could pick his spots to drive and finish at that rim. His outside game still needs work as he only has 12 career treys to his name. There were times where defenses literally sagged off Thompson and dared him to shoot, clogging the lane for Butler’s other drivers. Thompson has defense, he has the court vision, if he makes the next step offensively….Butler could end up turning some heads.

31. David Duke of Providence
6-5 200 lb SO SG
24.7 mpg, 7.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.1 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.3 bpg, 2.1 tpg, 43.7 eFG%
Avg. Rank: 27.14
High Rank: 16 (Baliatico – SH)
Low Rank: 44 (Jackson – MU)

The title of highest rated non-Villanova true freshman last season went to David Duke. The unfortunately named Rhode Island native was a top 50 prospect coming out of high school and was named the preseason Big East co-freshman of the year. Unfortunately for Friar fans, Duke did not live up to this billing as he did not earn that same honor at the end of the season. Heck, he didn’t even crack the All Freshman team. In fairness, this may be because those awards too heavily favor offensive statistics. Duke’s 43.7 eFG% is third worst on this list and worst among players who played in the Big East last season. Duke had the ball in his hand constantly and unfortunately did not prove himself to be a playmaker. Too often he kept the ball himself and tried to force a look that simply wasn’t there. His value comes on the defensive end where his superior size at the 1 position allowed him to disrupt and slow down opposing points. He was particularly good at locking down opponents one on one as he only gave up 20 points in isolation for the entire season. With LuWane Pipkens coming on board, Duke will mercifully be moved away from the point and into a more natural offensive position at the 2. He will need to keep up the same defensive intensity even though he won’t have the same size advantage that he did before.

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Categories: Analysis, Offseason

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic

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  1. Around the Big East 18/19 - by: MJDinkins | redmen.news - October 13, 2019

    […] installment of "Paint Touches" ranking of the top 50 players in the Big East. #40-31: painttouches.com/2019/10/11/top-50-playe…ig-east-40-31-4/amp/ Source […]

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