Monday, July 13, 2009

Very Early 2010-11 Preview: Big East

Villanova: The Wildcats will lose a lot of good players after the 2009-10 season, but that doesn't mean that they won't still be pretty good in 2010-11. The biggest losses, of course, will be Scottie Reynolds and Reggie Redding. That said, the two Coreys (Fisher and Stokes) should be back for their senior season and will provide an excellent starting back court. Antonio Pena will start at the four or five position, Taylor King will almost surely be starting at the three, and Maurice Sutton will be back and providing depth on the inside. The fifth starter will probably come from the outstanding group of freshmen that they have for the 2009-10 season, but we'll have to see how the season plays out before we know who is best. The two best freshmen are probably swing forward Dominic Cheek and power forward Mouphtau Yarou, but point guard Maalik Wayns and forward Isaiah Armwood are quality recruits as well. As for the 2010 recruiting class, Jay Wright has already collected oral commitments from James Bell (Scout: 12 SF, Rivals: 58) and Markus Kennedy (Scout: 11 C, Rivals: 136). Reynolds and Redding will both be tough losses, but assuming that this team can avoid any surprising NBA defections I see no reason why Villanova can't compete for a Big East title in 2010-11.

West Virginia: Da'Sean Butler will be a tough graduation to replace, and Wellington Smith also graduates, but the real worry will be Devin Ebanks and whether he comes back for his junior season in 2010-11. Right now he's projected to be a lottery pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, and if that holds up then I'd expect him to leave. Guards Darryl Bryant and Casey Mitchell, and forwards John Flowers and Kevin Jones, will be the key returners, and Joe Mazzulla is a question mark. Mazzulla should get a medical redshirt for the 2008-09 season which would give him eligibility for the 2010-11 season, but he also has legal troubles and it's not clear if he'll still be at the school. Cam Thoroughman should also be a quality returner. Of the 2009-10 freshmen, shooting guard Dalton Pepper is the most likely to be a big contributor right away. The top 2010 recruit thus far is point guard Noah Cottrill, but Bob Huggins is in the mix for other big names. Huggins has the luxury that he has a very large roster, so he doesn't need to worry about grabbing a ton of recruits. He can aggressively go after the top recruits knowing that his team will be okay even if he can only grab one or two.

Louisville: Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith will be two fairly big graduations, but I don't think Louisville will lose any players early to the 2010 NBA Draft (although Samardo Samuels is a possibility). Guard Preston Knowles and forward Terrence Jennings will likely be the two best returners (other than Samuels), although Peyton Siva might be a key returner if his freshman year ends up being as good as Louisville fans are hoping. Forwards George Goode, Jared Swopshire and Rakeem Buckles should all provide depth inside. The question mark will be guard play, although you can be sure that Rick Pitino will find somebody to fill that spot. Thus far his only signing for the 2010 class is swing forward Josh Langford.

Cincinnati: While the Lance Stephenson circus has the potential to dominate the 2009-10 season at Cincinnati, he's likely to be a one-and-done player and will not be a factor in 2010-11. The real question mark will be star Yancy Gates, and whether he goes pro early. The other key loss will be to graduation: Deonta Vaughn. That said, Cincy will have a ton of good players back for 2010-11. Dion Dixon and Larry Davis will be key back court returners. Ibrahima Thomas, Alvin Mitchell and Steve Toyloy are all key front court returners. Guard Cashmere Wright and forward Darnell Wilks should be quality players off the bench as well. If Gates is back then they will have an excellent front court, and so the question mark for me would be the back court. They've got a whole bunch of guards, but none of them have shown much in the way of being a Big East star. A well-behaved Lance Stephenson will play that role in 2009-10, but I'll have to see somebody ready to play that role in 2010-11 to convince me that they won't take a small step down the conference standings.

Connecticut: It's practically impossible to predict where UConn will be in 2010-11. Part of the reason is the uncertainty of Jim Calhoun's future, and whether he'll stick around for another year. Even if he comes back there will be the uncertainty of the NBA Draft, and whether Kemba Walker, Ater Majok or both will go pro early. Gavin Edwards, Jerome Dyson and Stanley Robinson will all be key graduations as well. If Walker and Majok both go pro then UConn is really in quite a bit of trouble for the 2010-11 season. In fact, the only player who I can be certain will be a quality player that season for UConn is shooting guard Donnell Beverly. If they're even going to be a Tournament team they're going to need quality production right away from the 2009-10 freshmen, highlighted by forwards Alex Oriakhi and Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, and guard Darius Smith. They don't have any signings yet for 2010, but you have to assume that they'll sign a bunch of players, or else collect a few transfers, to at the very least fill out the roster. UConn was excellent in 2008-09, but it's going to be a long time before they'll get back to those heights.

Georgetown: Hoya fans would obviously love to have Greg Monroe back for 2010-11, but you have to figure that he'll enter the 2010 NBA Draft. Still, he'll likely be the only member of the 2009-10 Georgetown team not back for 2010-11, which means that they might be improved even without him. Chris Wright and Austin Freeman will likely be back as the starting back court. Jason Clark and Vee Sanford will provide depth. The inside will be key, especially if Monroe leaves. Hollis Thompson is an excellent swing forward, and will likely start at the 3-spot. Henry Sims, Julian Vaughn and Nikita Mescheriakov will all be returning bigs, although none of them have yet to prove that they can be elite Big East players, which means that they might rely heavily on 2010 power forward Nate Lubick. The other early signing is point guard Markel Starks. The Hoyas will have a quality back court in 2010-11, but if Monroe leaves then the development of other post players will be the key question for Georgetown.

Pittsburgh: 2009-10 is a bit of a rebuilding season for Pittsburgh, but they should be back and improved in 2010-11. Jermaine Dixon will likely be the only loss. Brad Wannamaker and Ashton Gibbs will be a quality starting back court. Travon Woodall will provide depth. There are more questions on the inside, where it will be more about prospects than sure things. Gary McGhee is a decent post player, and Nasir Robinson is a wing prospect. Dante Taylor is expected to be a key post player as a freshman in 2009-10, and another key post prospect is Talib Zanna. Their one oral commitment for 2010 thus far is point guard Isaiah Epps. Pitt should be better in 2010-11 than 2009-10, but the development of their post players will be the key to a potential run at a Big East title.

Seton Hall: Seton Hall is an improving program that should be even better in 2010-11, losing only Eugene Harvey and John Garcia. Harvey is a tough loss, but he's not irreplaceable. They key will be one more season out of Jeremy Hazell, who could end up being one of the highest career scoring players in the history of the Big East. Hazell will be joined in the back court by Jordan Theodore and Keon Lawrence, although they'll be thin in terms of bench play from the guard position unless they can sign a good 2010 player or two. They'll have two good swing players returning in Robert Mitchell and Memphis transfer Jeff Robinson. On the inside they'll likely start Herb Pope, but beyond that there are question marks. Farrakohn Hall and Melvyn Oliver are both quality prospects, and we'll have to see how they develop during the 2009-10 season. They have yet to get commitments from any blue chippers for their 2010 class.

Syracuse: Andy Rautins and Arinze Onuaku will be the two graduates from Syracuse's 2009-10 team. Despite the losses, the front court should still be fairly good in 2010-11, featuring Kris Joseph, Rick Jackson, Wes Johnson and DaShonte Riley. The back court will be a bit of a question mark as it will depend on the development of two decent prospects: Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche. With such a thin group of returners, the key to their depth will be the 2010 recruiting class, which is already looking pretty good. The two best oral commitments thus far are shooting guard Dion Waiters and swing forward C.J. Fair.

St. John's: The Johnnies are slowly but steadily improving under Norm Roberts, and should be even better in 2010-11, with Anthony Mason, Jr being the only graduate. Malik Boothe and Paris Horne will be a good starting back court. Quincy Roberts, TyShawn Edmondson and Dwight Hardy will provide depth. D.J. Kennedy might be the best player returning in 2010-11, and will play in the 3-spot, with Omari Lawrence as his backup. On the inside, Sean Evans and Justin Burrell will probably start, with Rob Thomas and Dele Coker off the bench. With a lot of depth, the key will be whether Norm Roberts can finally land one of the top New York City recruits. He has swung and miss for the past few seasons, and he might need to actually land one if he's finally going to get his kids to the Tournament in 2011.

Notre Dame: The Irish are a thin team in 2009-10, and they will lose even more after the season. Luke Harangody will graduate, as will Tory Jackson and Jonathan Peoples. Their strength in 2010-11 will probably be athletic swing forwards, with both Tyrone Nash and Carleton Scott being quality returners. Beyond that, though, there's not much. Ben Hansbrough should be a good shooting guard in from Mississippi State, but beyond that it's all prospects. The 2009 class doesn't have any blue chippers, but it's deep, and we'll have to see which of those players separates himself from the pack. But even if one or two of those recruits ends up being really good, the Irish will still be dreadfully thin in 2010-11. Expect Mike Brey to spend a large percentage of the next few months looking for recruits and transfers.

Rutgers: Fred Hill is on the hot seat at Rutgers, and a big part of his future will likely depend on the development of Mike Rosario, who was expected to be the savior of Rutgers basketball. He showed flashes of why he was so hyped as a freshman in 2008-09, but he's got a way to go to be one of the best players in the Big East. Thankfully for the Scarlet Knights, just about everybody will be back from the 2009-10 team in 2010-11. Hamady N'Diaye is the only loss to graduation. Corey Chandler will join Rosario in the back court in 2010-11, with Mike Coburn and Kofi Genfi off the bench. In the front court, Gregory Echenique will be the key returner, along with Jonathan Mitchell, Patrick Jackson, Dane Miller and Austin Johnson. The issue is that other than Rosario, Echenique and perhaps Mitchell or Chandler, there isn't a lot of top flight Big East talent on this team. Hill is going to have to get out and find some quality recruits, or he might not be the one coaching this team in 2010-11.

Marquette: 2009-10 is a big time rebuilding season for Buzz Williams, and 2010-11 might be another one. Lazar Haywood will unquestionably be the star of the 2009-10 team, and he'll graduate, as will starter David Cubillan. In fact, I'd expect only swing forward Joseph Fulce and center Chris Otule to be key players on the 2010-11 squad who were a part of the 2008-09 squad, meaning that the 2009 recruiting class will be the key to Marquette's future. It has a ton of talent, but also a ton of players with baggage, be it personal or academic. Jeronne Maymon is a swing forward who might be the most talented (and enigmatic) player in the class, although Erik Williams is also a good player at the same position. Junior Cadougan is an excellent point guard prospect, and Dwight Buycks could be good as well. A key to the class might be 7'2" Youssoupha Mbao, who is a big time project, but has all of the physical skills if he can manage to avoid academic problems. The 2010 recruiting class already has shooting guard Aaron Bowen, but expect Buzz Williams to be on the prowl for another quality prospect or two. Williams is putting together a lot of talent, but also a whole lot of question marks.

Providence: 2009-10 is a rebuilding season for Providence, and they should be improved in 2010-11, despite the loss of star point guard Sharaud Curry. Brian McKenzie will be the other key loss. Key front court returners will be Jamine Peterson, Bilal Dixon, and swing forward Marshon Brooks. James Still and Kadeem Batts are decent inside prospects as well. As for guards, the key will be the development of the 2009 recruiting class, featuring Johnnie Lacy and Vincent Council. Gerard Coleman, a shooting guard, is the first blue chip oral commitment for 2010, although you can be sure that Keno Davis will have some more signings. They are a long way from being a serious Big East contender, but Providence is heading in the right direction with Keno Davis.

South Florida: Stan Heath continues to be so dependent on transfers in and out that it's tough to keep track of South Florida's roster. Chris Howard and Alex Rivas-Sanchez will be the key graduations, although neither are irreplaceable. Key back court returners will be Dominique Jones, Anthony Crater and Justin Leemow Key front court returners will be Augustus Gilchrist, Ron Anderson and Jarrid Famous. Jones and Gilchrist are probably the two best talents, but all in all there just isn't a whole lot of talent here. South Florida has really struggled to recruit since moving to the Big East, and unless they shock the recruiting world in 2010 I just don't see how they'll have the players to hang with the big boys in the Big East in 2010-11.

DePaul: Like South Florida, DePaul has really struggled to recruit since moving to the Big East. The conference is just too big, and it's very tough to convince kids to come to your school when your best argument is that you're hoping to finish 14th in the conference next season. In what is probably a desperation move more than anything else, Jerry Wainwright has revamped his coaching staff with a bunch of Chicago guys, with an eye on trying to put a bit of a fence around the best Chicago talent, but nobody has a lot of hope that it will work. Will Walker will be the one graduation in 2010, but he will be a tough loss. And a tougher loss will be Mac Koshwal if he decides to enter the NBA Draft. Jeremiah Kelly and Michael Bizoukas will be the only two back court returners, so back court recruiting will be a key. Things are a little bit better in the front court, even if Koshwal leaves, because they have several decent prospects, including Mario Stula, Krys Faber, Kene Obi and Tony Freeland. But in the end, other than Koshwal they just have no real Big East quality talent. Unless Wainwright really does start to pull in some of the elite Chicago talent he will probably be looking for a new job sooner rather than later.


Anonymous said...


PC did not lose Sharrod Curry. Sharrod was a junior and will be be back this year. Jeff Xavier was the guard who was a senior.


Jeff said...

I'm well aware. This is an early look at 2010-11. Curry is on pace to graduate in 2010, and will not be back in 2010-11. The 2009-10 Big East preview can be reached through links on the upper right hand side of this page.