Top 50 Players in the Big East: #20-11

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
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: #50-41#40-31, #30-21, #10-1.

20. Quentin Goodin of Xavier
6-4 195 lb SR PG
34.7 mpg, 11.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.8 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.2 bpg, 2.7 tpg, 43.8 eFG%
Avg. Rank: 18.43
High Rank: 6 (Watkins – VU)
Low Rank: 30 (Hankins – BU)

Quentin Goodin has been absolutely workhorse of a player for the Musketeers ever since Edmond Sumner tore his ACL. Sumner was Xavier’s stud PG three seasons ago and Goodin was his lightly used freshman backup. The injury forced Goodin into a marquis role early and he performed admirably for a freshman. Since then, Goodin has been the primary point in Cincy and has played yuge minutes as X has lacked a true backup PG to spell him. Goodin has never been an efficient scorer. He puts up a ton of shots and misses way too many of them. His eFG% is bottom 5 on this list and he was guilty of shooting Xavier out of a lot of games last season. His value comes in his distribution ability. He has a knack for finding the open man and his 6’4” height allows him to make easy entry passes to the big men who have defined Xavier’s play that last few seasons. If Goodin can learn that his role is to pass, not to score, it could mean a world of difference for the X-men. The addition of highly touted freshman KyKy Tandy also gives Coach Steele another option to keep Goodin from getting overworked. Xavier is the last team to have a second player appear on this list, meaning they have 4 top 20 players on the roster. This combined with their torrid end to last season may mean that Xavier is a dark horse to win the Big East this season.

19. Nate Watson of Providence
6-10 250 lb JR C
23.5 mpg, 11.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.7 bpg, 1.3 tpg, 58.9 eFG%
Avg. Rank: 18.14
High Rank: 8 (Dobney – XA)
Low Rank: 25 (Hankins – BU/Geiger – GT)

Nate Watson quickly defined himself as one of the elite offensive big men his freshman season. Despite averaging under 15 minutes a game, Watson scored 6.8 points a game and did it by making almost 60% of his FG attempts. Watson is a mountain of a man with the grace of a dancing bear. He can backdown any post defender, roll of a pick for an easy bucket, catch the ball on the run to the hoop, or spin/duck/dance around post defenders to get the ball through the cylinder. His range may only extend about 4 or 5 feet, but once he’s there, he’s going to score. Watson built on his game last year by improving his rebounding numbers and his defense. He is still not a great passer out of the post but he learned to do it enough to at least keep double teams honest. His post defense is solid, but like his offense it is limited to the rim. If you can catch Watson away from the paint, it likely means that Providence is giving up a bucket. Still, Watson is an undeniable talent, and this shown by his recent addition to the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar award watch list. One thing that have made Friar fans uneasy is Watson’s health. He sprained his MCL during practice and is expected to miss the first couple of games. That is the type of injury that can linger so Cooley and Co. will likely be very cautious with Watson at first.

18. AJ Reeves of Providence
6-6 205 lb SO SG
22.7 mpg, 9.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.6 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.0 tpg, 53.5 eFG%
Avg. Rank: 17.14
High Rank: 8 (Watkins – VU)
Low Rank: 26 (Jackson – MU)

No freshman made a bigger splash in non-conference play last season than A.J. Reeves. The Boston product put up 29 points in his first game as a Friar and continued to roll from there. In 10 non-conference appearances, Reeves averaged 14.2 points on the strength of 45% 3P shooting. He wasn’t too shabby inside the arc either as he converted 56% of his twos, terrifying opposing defense with athleticism. Then came the injury. Reeves landed awkwardly in the Friars’ embarrassing home loss to sub 200 KenPom UMass and hurt his foot. He missed the next nine games and didn’t seem like the same player when he returned. After averaging 14 points a game, Reeves only reached that mark once the rest of the season (a 24-point explosion against Butler in the regular season finale). He averaged 6.9 points a game and was considerably less accurate, shooting 32% from three and a lackluster 39.5% from two. Pundits and Providence fans alike have said that the injury was the main culprit in Reeves’ sudden decline. It is fair to wonder if increase in competition was the true primary factor. The teams Reeves put big numbers on were not exactly a murders’ row. The one NCAA tournament team he faced in the non-conference was Michigan and he was held to 5 points. In fact, in his 5 games against NCAA tourney teams, Reeves averaged 5.8 points and shot 34% from the floor. Time will tell which narrative about the step back is truer, the injury or the lack of cupcakes. The voters seemed to share this same sentiment. Half of Reeves’ rankings were between 8-10. The other half were between 20-26. Not one person ranked him 11-19.

17. Mitch Ballock of Creighton
6-5 205 lb JR SG
33.0 mpg, 11.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.2 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.2 bpg, 1.3 tpg, 62.1 eFG%
Avg. Rank: 16.75
High Rank: 10 (Watkins – VU)
Low Rank: 25 (Coren – PC)

Now that the Brothers Hauser have departed the Big East, I’d argue that Creighton’s Mitch Ballock is now the top sharpshooter in the conference. He’ll never match the volume of a Myles Powell or Markus Howard, but in terms of pure accuracy, Ballock is the guy. The Jay offense was poetry in motion last season. The ball was constantly moving around the perimeter, whirring around until an open shooter was found. When that open shooter was Ballock, the result was almost always three points. In 144 spot up jumper attempts, Ballock scored a whopping 184 points. That’s good a points per possession of 1.278 which was in the 97th percentile of all Division 1. While spot up jumpers are his main weapon, Ballock is surprisingly good on the move. The Jays loved to set screens for Ballock away from the ball. If he could get even an inch of space off the screen he could turn and nail the three without ever setting his feet. The challenge with Ballock was the challenge with all of Creighton last season, defense. We are four Jays in and Ballock ranks as the second tallest and the one remaining Jay is shorter as well (sorry, spoilers). Ballock was often the de facto 4 and will likely continue that role this season. Last season, he gave up 2-4 inches to most of his assignments and they used that to bury Creighton with threes and bully them in the post. The Jays do have more depth this season but if Coach McDermott wants his best players on the floor together, they are going to have to go small. This creates great mismatches for them on the offensive end, but they will need to find a remedy on defense if they want to have a shot at a high seed in the NCAA tourney.

16. Omer Yurtseven of Georgetown
7-0 248 lb RSJR C
23.8 mpg, 13.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.4 spg, 1.8 bpg, 1.2 tpg, 60.6 eFG% (17-18 stats for o
Avg. Rank: 15.29
High Rank: 2 (Jackson – MU)
Low Rank: 37 (Watkins – VU)

While much of the pub last season was on the Hoya’s trio of freshmen, their best player was senior big man Jessie Govan. Normally a graduation like that would be a huge hole to fill, but Coach Ewing just went out and got himself another 7-footer with range. Omer Yurtseven was rated a 5-star recruit by several services coming out of high school. He ended up at NC State where he had a very disappointing freshman campaign. Coach Gottfried got fired and the new head of the Wolfpack, Kevin Keatts helped turn Yurtseven into one of the top big men in the country. As a sophomore he put up nearly 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks a night for a team that would eventually make the NCAA tournament. As tempting as it is to say that Yurtseven is another Govan, that wouldn’t be totally accurate. Govan was an accurate spot up shooter from everywhere on the floor Yurtseven has the accuracy shooting from deep but not nearly the volume that Govan did. Govan also had a much nicer mid-range game than Yurtseven who was either in the post or beyond the arc. Where Yurtseven is an upgrade is on the boards and rim protection. Yurtseven had much better rebounding%, specifically on the offensive end. His 1.8 blocks a game was also near the top of the ACC (though this man defense leaves a lot to be desired). The voters had varied opinions on Yurtseven with one of the larger spreads of any players on this list. Personally, I see a former 5-star, who already put up big numbers for an NCAA tournament team, who just spent an entire year working with a hall of fame center. I expect big things for the Turkish big man.

T-14. Paul Scruggs of Xavier
6-4 196 lb JR SG
32.8 mpg, 12.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.5 bpg, 2.7 tpg, 53.7 eFG%
Avg. Rank: 15
High Rank: 5 (Coren – PC)
Low Rank: 26 (Watkins – VU)

The top rated Big East freshman in the class of 2017 was Indianapolis product Paul Scruggs. His freshman year he played the role of high energy defensive stopper off the bench. He played limited minutes which allowed him to be aggressive on defense, getting in the face of some of the top guards in the conference. The offense came his sophomore year. Scruggs upped his usage and found his outside shot. Scruggs and grad transfer Ryan Welage were about the only ones who did as Xavier struggled shooting the three all season. When Scruggs was on, he was on. He went off for 20+ points in seven different games including a 28-point masterpiece in the BET semis against Villanova. When he was off, it could get ugly. 1 for 7 against Mizzou, 2 for 9 against Texas, 4 for 15 against Toledo. Xavier’s new additions may be the key to getting Scruggs the consistency he lacked last season. A lot of the newcomers are known as outside shooters and that could open the driving lanes that Scruggs was sorely missing in 18-19. In addition to improving his scoring, Scruggs will need to continue his high-level rebounding and distribution.

T-14. Tyrique Jones of Xavier
6-9 239 lb SR PF
24.8 mpg, 11.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.9 bpg, 1.5 tpg, 62.4 eFG%
Avg. Rank: 15
High Rank: 4 (Baliatico – SH)
Low Rank: 31 (Geigar – GT)

Tyrique Jones comes in tied with Paul Scruggs for the title of second-best Musketeer. Like Scruggs, Jones started his career in Cincy as a high energy role player of the bench. Jones’ role was efficient low post scoring and posting some of the best rebounding numbers in the game. He didn’t get his big breakout season until his junior year, upping his average minutes played by almost 10-spot a game. Jones can play as a traditional 5 or he can move over to the 4 as part of a massive twin towers lineup that Xavier has become known for. Last season, Jones and Zach Hankins spent a lot of time on the floor together, devastating opposing defenses with crisp interior passes, dump off dunks, and possessions extended by multiple offensive rebounds. Normally, a twin tower lineup means the 4 man is in a really tough spot defensively, but Jones was solid. Despite his size, he is quick and agile and that allowed him to keep up with all but the speediest forwards. He could also settle back into Xavier’s patented 1-3-1 zone where he was at his most effective. This season, Jones likely sees most of his time at the 5. Hankins is gone and Coach Steele replaced him with a trio of high three-star freshmen. This will give Xavier plenty of depth but likely means a more traditional offense with players like Jason Carter and Naji Marshall playing at the 4 alongside Jones. Without Hankins, there is a big opportunity for Jones to increase his already strong rebounding numbers.

13. Collin Gillespie of Villanova
6-3 191 lb JR PG
29.4 mpg, 10.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.5 tpg, 54.1 eFG%
Avg. Rank: 14.57
High Rank: 6 (Dobney – XA)
Low Rank: 22 (Rose – SJU)

When Jalen Brunson departed Villanova early for the NBA draft, most expected 5-star true freshman Jahvon Quinerley to be the heir apparent to the PG role for the defending national champions. Quinerley’s rankings may have been pretty but his play was not and the OG Jay Wright was forced to go in a different direction. Wright rolled out a two PG look with Collin Gillespie playing the role of Robin to Phil Booth’s Batman. Gillespie is a sweet shooting, ball protecting type PG who will now be tasked with making the Villanova offense go. Most of his work was done well beyond the arc, making almost twice as many treys as twos last season. Gillespie wasn’t the primary distributor, but he has good court vision and almost never turns the ball over. When Gillespie was finding teammates for open shots, good things almost always followed for the Wildcats. In fact, Villanova was 11-0 last season when Gillespie made four or more assists in a game. Consistency is what Gillespie needs to develop. He’s capable of pouring in 30 points against Georgetown but also had games were he went 1 for 9 (Providence), 1 for 8 (St. John’s), and many instances of 2 for 7, 8, and 9. Whether or not Gillespie was feeling it was a good indicator of how the game went for Villanova. When Gillespie shot 40% or better, Villanova was 13-3. Under 40%? 12-7. Consistency may be hard to find early in the season as Gillespie has struggled with multiple injuries this summer. Most recently, he suffered a broken nose at practice. He’s not expected to miss any time, but he will be playing with a mask. Nova fans don’t have to look far back to find an example of how a mask may impact a player’s production. Joe Cremo was hailed as one of the top 2 or 3 grad transfer last season, but put up pedestrian numbers after breaking his nose and having to wear a mask all year. Was it the mask? Was it the jump to the Big East? No one can say for certain, but it is an adjustment that Gillespie will have to make to start the year.

12. Paul Reed of DePaul
6-9 220 lb JR SF
26.9 mpg, 12.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 0.9 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.5 bpg, 1.8 tpg, 58.6 eFG%
Avg. Rank: 14
High Rank: 5 (Rose – SJU)
Low Rank: 32 (Geiger – GT)

Well, someone had to be the first team to exhaust all five players on this list, and of course it is DePaul who gets that dubious honor. The award for top dog on the team picked to finish last in the Big East goes to rising junior Paul Reed. Reed is an absurd physical specimen, 220 lbs of muscle and speed with arms that go on for days. He was the lynchpin for DePaul’s suffocating defense last season. His rare combination of speed and length let him contain on the perimeter, body up in the post, deflect lazy passes, and destroy driving guards with highlight reel blocks from the weak side. His smothering defense is complimented by an extremely efficient offense. His 58.6 eFG% is one of the tops on this list, especially for a player who took plenty of shots away from the bucket. His go to move is catching the ball on a hard cut towards the rim for an easy two but he’s at his best in transition. In 45 attempts in transition, Reed scored 68 points for a ridiculous points per possession of 1.511. When he is allowed to put all of his physical gift on display in the open court, he is nigh unstoppable. All eyes will be on Reed this season as Eli Cain is gone and Max Strus is no longer loose. How he transitions from being an ultra-efficient, rim-rattling third scoring option, to the top of every scouting report will determine how far in the cellar DePaul ends up this season. He may not be in the voters top 10 but he opens this season on the All-Big East 2nd Team. He is also one of the more coveted players in the Big East by NBA scouts. DePaul may be in the basement again, but Reed will be a joy to watch.

11. Saddiq Bey of Villanova
6-8 216 lb SO SF
29.6 mpg, 8.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.3 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.3 bpg, 0.8 tpg, 56.9 eFG%
Avg. Rank: 13.86
High Rank: 7 (Coren – PC)
Low Rank: 25 (Baliatico – SH)

When we wrote this list last season, Saddiq Bey was nowhere near our radar. Sure, he had potential but as the lowest member of the Wildcats’ recruiting class, no one thought he would become one of their top players. Bey started his college career of with a bang, scoring 16 points against lowly Morgan State. It only took four games for him to earn a starting spot that he kept for all but a three-game stretch in the middle of the season. Bey is one of those sharpshooting forwards that is all the rage right now. Well over half his points (162 of 296) came on spot up jumpers. If he can get his feet set, Bey is likely to make the shot. He is much less efficient when he has to create his own shot which could be a problem now that he will be asked to carry a heavier scoring load. While his position is clearly that of a forward, he can defend on the perimeter and there are rumors coming out of Philly that he may fill the role of a point forward. Collin Gillespie is the only true point guard on the roster and some Villanova insiders have reported Bey filling in as the backup point. Bey is the fourth Wildcat on this list, which leaves DePaul as the only team with all five players listed heading into the top 10. This means that every team besides DePaul will have a player repped in the top 10 and one of them will have two. This is a testament to the depth of the Big East this coming season and the likely bloodbath that is likely to ensue come conference play.

Tags: , , ,

Categories: Analysis, Home, Offseason

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

2 Comments on “Top 50 Players in the Big East: #20-11”

  1. Brian
    November 1, 2019 at 9:47 am #

    when are you putting out the top ten?

    • Ryan Jackson
      November 3, 2019 at 4:12 pm #


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: