Solid signing classes, uncertain future
It’s a fair statement to say that no one knows exactly where Big East basketball will be five years from now. With some of its most prominent members bound for the ACC and an imminent breakaway of the remaining Catholic schools, the status of the Big East as a high-major conference, or a conference at all, are both open to question. As it stands now, this recap only includes the current Big East programs, as the schools for next season don’t seem set in stone at all. That means that the Memphis Tigers, which has a national top-5 class, is not include in this ranking.
Of the current Big East schools, it’s no surprise to see the Marquette Golden Eagles at the top of the stack. A smart mix of in-state players, several national top-100 talents, and a gritty JUCO forward mean that coach Buzz Williams has his Marquette machine still in motion. Marquette has a pair of standouts in strong forward Deonte Burton and point guard Duane Wilson, and rangy wing JaJuan Johnson might have the most upside in the class. Power forward Jameel McKay seems like to continue Marquette’s strategy of selectively importing two year college talent.
Not far behind Marquette is the Louisville Cardinals, which has an embarassment of riches in the backcourt. Prep school lead guard Terry Rozier signed last year but went to prep school instead, and has teamed with Anton Gill at Hargrave Military (VA). Their familiarity with each other is a bonus, playing at one of the top post-grad programs in the land. Add to that group Chris Jones, who is arguably the top scorer in the junior college ranks and a former Bruce Pearl recruit to Tennessee and the Cardinals will be rolling. No-nonsense big man Akoy Agau will make the trek from Nebraska, and should find a role inside.
The Syracuse Orange have an eclectic mix of players headed by point guard Tyler Ennis and small forward Tyler Roberson. Both have the stuff to star in the ACC in the future,with Ennis ready now and Roberson having plenty of upside. Orange fans also have to be excited about the upside of forward BJ Johnson, defensive-minded prep school guard Ron Patterson (a former Indiana Hoosiers signee in 2012), and thin big man Chinonso Obokoh. Johnson hails from the Philadelphia area, while Patterson is getting an extra year of season after not matriculating to Indiana.
Keeping elite point guard Demetrius Jackson near home was a top priority for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and they managed to secure his services going forward. He should provide an outstanding option at the all-important lead guard slot, and be a starter for several years. He’s a great floor general, with a balance of passing and scoring which should open up the games of two terrific shooters, Stephen Vasturia and VJ Beachem. Both fit the Notre Dame mold well, and will be made better by a table setter with the basketball in Jackson.
Connecticut did fairly well in the early signing period with two additions in Terrence Samuel, a point guard with a chip on his shoulder, and lanky but active big man Kentan Facey. They played on the AAU circuit together, so that should give them a jump start in the changing Huskies program. Assuming the head coach is Kevin Ollie beyond this year, UConn will have the ability to sell the program more than they can with the uncertain coaching position.
Both the Villanova Wildcats and Pittsburgh Panthers signed an effective pair of players that are in the Hoopniks Top 150 for the 2013 class. Villanova targeted the DC area and added an undersized winner in 6-6 power forward Kris Jenkins, and skilled shooting guard Josh Hart. Both will fit the program well, as will Mike Young and Josh Newkirk at Pitt.
The South Florida Bulls brought in some quantity with six additions, and has really shored up its frontcourt defensively with shotblocking center John Egbunu and glass cleaner Chris Perry. Athletic forward Byron Zeigler can provide excitement and tough undersized power forward DreKalo Clayton give South Florida some excellent options.
The terrific 2012 class for the Providence Friars was snakebitten by injury and ineligibility, but they are still building a strong core. Multi-talented Brandon Austin is an important pickup from Philadelphia, though there’s still the question about where the best use for the lithe 6-6 prospect is at the next level. He is tall enough to play small forward but has guard skills.
The Cincinnati Bearcats added four low key signees, with the guard slots benefiting the most. It will be interesting to see who steps up among their group of blue collar grinder. The Georgetown Hoyas were expected to have talented wing Stephen Domingo in their 2013 class, but he enrolled early. The sole signee is sharpshooting forward Reggie Cameron.
The headliner for the DePaul Blue Demons is Billy Garrett, a Chitown lead guard that is the son of an assistant coach. Two junior college forwards, including Washington State retread Greg Sequele also are in the class.
As of December 2012, it’s not an understatement to say the Big East is in a major state of flux. The expected roster of schools could look more like the Conference USA
- Best Player: Anton Gill, Louisville
- Best Potential: Tyler Roberson, Syracuse
- Best Scorer: Chris Jones, Louisville
- Best Shooter: Reggie Cameron, Georgetown
- Best Rebounder: Jameel McKay, Marquette
- Best Passer: Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
- Best Defender: Ron Patterson, Syracuse
- Best Glue Guy: Kris Jenkins, Villanova
|Deonte Burton||6′-4″||SF||Vincent (WI)||HS||Signed|
|Duane Wilson||6′-2″||PG||Dominican (WI)||HS||Signed|
|Jameel McKay||6′-7″||PF||Indian Hills CC (IA)||JC||Signed|
|John Dawson||6′-3″||PG||Clovis (NM)||HS||Signed|
|JaJuan Johnson||6′-5″||SG||Southwind (TN)||HS||Signed|
|Anton Gill||6′-3″||SG||Hargrave Military (VA)||HS||Signed|
|Terry Rozier||6′-1″||PG||Hargrave Military (VA)||HS||Signed|
|Chris Jones||5′-11″||PG||NW Florida State (FL)||JC||Signed|
|Akoy Agau||6′-8″||PF||Omaha Central (NE)||HS||Signed|
|Tyler Ennis||6′-2″||PG||St. Benedict’s Prep (NJ)||HS||Signed|
|Tyler Roberson||6′-7″||SF||Roselle Catholic (NJ)||HS||Signed|
|Ron Patterson||6′-2″||SG||Brewster Academy (NH)||Prep||Signed|
|BJ Johnson||6′-7″||SF||Lower Merion (PA)||HS||Signed|
|Chinonso Obokoh||6′-10″||C||Bishop Kearney (NY)||HS||Signed|
4. Notre Dame
|VJ Beachem||6′-7″||SF||New Haven (IN)||HS||Signed|
|Stephen Vasturia||6′-4″||SG||St. Joseph’s Prep (PA)||HS||Signed|
|Demetrius Jackson||6′-1″||PG||Mishawaka (IN)||HS||Signed|
|Austin Torres||6′-6″||SF||Mishawaka (IN)||HS||Signed|
|Kentan Facey||6′-9″||C||Long Island Lutheran (NY)||HS||Signed|
|Terrence Samuel||6′-3″||PG||South Shore (NY)||HS||Signed|
|Kris Jenkins||6′-6″||SF||Gonzaga (DC)||HS||Signed|
|Josh Hart||6′-4″||SG||Sidwell Friends (DC)||HS||Signed|
|Mike Young||6′-9″||PF||St. Benedict’s Prep (NJ)||HS||Signed|
|Josh Newkirk||6′-2″||PG||Word of God (NC)||HS||Signed|
|John Egbunu||6′-10″||C||Fort Walton Beach (FL)||HS||Signed|
|Drew Davis||6′-0″||PG||Fort Walton Beach (FL)||HS||Signed|
|Byron Zeigler||6′-6″||SF||Community (MI)||HS||Signed|
|DreKalo Clayton||6′-6″||PF||Evans (FL)||HS||Signed|
|Josh Heath||6′-2″||PG||Tampa Prep (FL)||HS||Signed|
|Chris Perry||6′-8″||PF||Bartow (FL)||HS||Signed|
|Brandon Austin||6′-6″||SG||Imhotep Charter (PA)||HS||Signed|
|Rodney Bullock||6′-7″||SF||Kecoughtan (VA)||HS||Signed|
|Troy Caupain||6′-3″||SG||Cosby (VA)||HS||Signed|
|Kevin Johnson||6′-3″||PG||Summit Day (OH)||HS||Signed|
|DeShaun Morman||6′-4″||SG||Faith Baptist (FL)||Prep||Signed|
|Jamaree Strickland||6′-9″||C||Queen City Prep (FL)||Prep||Signed|
|Reggie Cameron||6′-7″||SF||Hudson Catholic (NJ)||HS||Signed|
|Billy Garrett||6′-4″||PG||Morgan Park (IL)||HS||Signed|
|Forrest Robinson||6′-10″||C||South Plains (TX)||JC||Signed|
|Greg Sequele||6′-8″||PF||Citrus (CA)||JC||Signed|
Note: The St. John’s Red Storm, Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Seton Hall Pirates did not report any signees from the early signing period. Seton Hall does hold a verbal commitment from top-100 guard Aquille Carr, but he has not officially signed.