Credit: Creighton Athletics

Big East Preview: Draft Prospects

Highlighting the top draft prospects in the Big East Conference

It is a new year in college basketball and that means a new slate for returning players and hype for many freshman just starting out. Last years draft class was viewed as top heavy with a drastic drop off after the top three prospects, but this season it is not so cut and dry. There is always somewhat of a drop off after the first few picks depending on who you ask, but there is a not a solidified number one pick heading into the season like there was with RJ Barrett in 2018-2019. Obviously that notion proved to be false with the emergence of Zion Williamson and Ja Morant who ended up going ahead of Barrett in the draft. With that said, NBA teams already know who is on their radar and we will be highlighting those players in each conference as we are about to see meaningful college basketball games very soon.

Villanova

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’9″ 232

Position: Power Forward

Robinson-Earl has good size to guard with skills to play on the perimeter. He has a strong vertical and runs the floor well with good length that allows him to impact the game on the defensive end. Villanova has traditionally shot the three pointer at a high rate and he will fit in perfectly bringing solid shooting ability from the outside. His versatility and high ceiling mean a productive season could result in a first round selection this year.

Bryan Antoine

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’5″ 175

Position: Point Guard

The other highly ranked recruit from the class of 2019 for Jay Wright, Antoine has been one of the best players in his age group for the last five plus years. After splitting with high school teammate Scottie Lewis he has a chance to show that without is running mate he can be a star on his own. At 6’5″ primarily playing as the lead guard, his size gives him plenty of mismatches on both end of the floor. Athletically he is the total package with speed, quickness, and a vertical leap that produced plenty of highlight plays in his AAU and high school time. In addition to those physical tools he is billed as one of the better shooters entering college this year, and he is skilled at setting up teammates with open looks. His weight and lack of strength was the biggest concern entering the summer and due to a injury Antoine has been unable to play since his last high school game. It is unclear when he will return and some reports have suggested he could redshirt, but even if he does not play he still could leave an be drafted.

Marquette

Markus Howard

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 5’11” 180

Position: Point Guard

College basketball always has undersized guards that can score at a high level but do to their size they do not have the kind of draft stock that their taller counterpoints receive. Howard would be on that list after averaging 25 points and 3.9 assists per game as a junior and deciding to come back for his senior season. While his shot selection was questionable at times he had a green light to pull up from his coach and he shot 40.3% on three point attempts last year so he was more efficient that many analysts give him credit for. His ability to create a shot off of the dribble is possibly the best in college basketball and his range is at the top range of college players as well. He can play off of the ball at times and driving to the basket was a strong suit of his game over the last three seasons. Bigger guards give him trouble as a defender but his offense alone will get him drafted, although despite the high level of production it could be in the second round.

Sacar Anim

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’5″ 210

Position: Shooting Guard

Anim has been slowly improving over his first three seasons after redshirting in the first year he was on campus. Offensively he can shoot the ball well and drive to the basket but his defense is the strongest part of his game. Anim usually draws the assignment of the best player for the opposing team, and he has relished in the role of the lead defender on the wing. With a bigger offensive role this year and continued strong play on the defensive end of the court he could get looks at the professional level as a 3 and d type of prospect.

Jayce Johnson

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 7’0″ 245

Position: Center

Johnson has the size that scouts look for in a center prospect, and he runs the floor better than many of his peers at the position. He can get up well for his size to go with shot blocking skills. On paper he looks like a legitimate NBA prospect but his production has not lived up to that hype in his during his time at Utah before his move to Marquette. Sometimes all it takes is a location change so with his physical abilities and a new team he has a chance to get his name in draft consideration. His free throw shooting and mid range game need to improve if he is not going to be able to score inside at a high level, and he has struggled with that area of his game.

Seton Hall

Myles Powell

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’2″ 195

Position: Point Guard

Powell came onto the national scene after a dominant second half against Kentucky at Madison Square Garden when Seton Hall won in overtime. He can create a shot as well as any guard in the country with one of the best step back moves in college basketball and he has also played off of the ball as well. His confident ability in himself leads to some impressive plays but also some bad choices taking contested jumpers. Despite his 6’2″ size he can finish around the rim and he is crafty at getting by defenders when driving the ball to the basket. Scouts are going to be looking for Powell to be more efficient this season but they know he is a shot maker that can put up points in a hurry, with his play on the defensive end of the floor being an area that with improvement will improve his overall stock.

Xavier

Naji Marshall

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’7″ 220

Position: Small Forward

Marshall can score inside and outside of the point, being able to play as a small forward or a power forward in small ball lineups. While he has shown glimpses of his versatility he did not shoot the ball efficiently from behind the arc last year. His quickness and speed could improve as well, although his catch and shoot abilities will be what matters most going forward. He has been able to rebound the ball and the expectation would be that those numbers will continue to increase in the 2019-2020 season.

Paul Scruggs

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’4″ 196

Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard

Scruggs showed a lot of improvement with his increased role as a sophomore averaging 12.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. This ability to put up production in multiple different ways as well as play in the lead guard role and off of the ball make him an interesting prospect. He needs to get stronger physically and teams might not think he is ready after this season to play professionally, but he is definitely on the radar of teams a combo guard that can make plays on both ends of the floor.

KyKy Tandy

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’2″ 190

Position: Point Guard

Tandy is one of the most exciting players from the recruiting class of 2019. He is a natural scorer with a killer mentality taking the ball to the basket, especially on the fast break. His crossover is impressive and he has high level top end speed being able to go by defenders with ease. Athletically he can jump better than most players in the freshman class throwing down many highlight dunks in his high school days. How well he is able to shoot the ball will be the biggest factor in whether or not he becomes an early entry candidate, but the physical tools are there to be an effective scorer in college. His point guard skills are still improving, and the fact that he has been relied as a scorer, it will take time before he is near his potential as a passer.

Creighton

Ty-Shon Alexander

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’4″ 195

Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard

Alexander is a combo guard that has played off of the ball and as the lead guard, possessing the versatility that NBA teams like to see with a scoring play maker. He is a natural scorer and due to this his point guard skills can improve, but there are plenty of examples of his ability to pass the ball. If he had left after last year he likely would have been a second round pick so he could play his way into first round consideration at the conclusion of this season. His shot is solid and he can definitely shoot the ball from three consistently, while his defense is going to be closely watched this season with scouts full aware of his scoring ability.

Georgetown

James Akinjo

Class: Sophomore

Height/Weight: 6’1″ 185

Position: Point Guard

Akinjo immediately came into Georgetown and made a big impact starting 32 of 33 games in his first year on campus. He can score at a high level despite being undersized and his efficiency was solid across the board although turnovers can be an issue at times. His quickness with the ball in his hands allows him to get by defenders and he knows how to use his body effectively to shield defenders. As a shooter he was impressive in his freshman year, but bigger guards do cause him trouble on the other side of the floor. He most likely will be at Georgetown for multiple seasons, however after his first season he has been put on the radar of scouts.

Mac McClung

Class: Sophomore

Height/Weight: 6’2″ 186

Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard

McClung entered Georgetown as a YouTube sensation with his highlight videos from high school getting more views that many of the top ranked players in the 2018 recruiting class. He proved as a freshman that his ability to score translates to the college level and he still provided the dunks that made him internet famous in high school. Although he did have some big games his shot is streaky and there were many down games as well, so his efficiency needs to improve, especially shooting the deep ball. At 6’2″ if he wants to make it as a professional his point guard and passing skills will need to become more of a focus for him, but he is still likely to spend the majority of the upcoming season at shooting guard.

Jamorko Pickett

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’8″ 206

Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward

Pickett checks all of the boxes as far as the physical attributes teams look for in wing prospects with size, athleticism and solid quickness. He is yet to put it together for an entire season and he declined in his sophomore season from a relatively good freshman year. His shot has not be bad but he has simply not taken enough shows to impact the game on the offensive end at a high level. As a defender he can guard multiple positions with some quicker players giving him issues. This will be a big season for his basketball future considering if you fail to improve your production for three seasons then teams are going to categorize you as possibly not having further room to grow.

St. John’s

Mustapha Heron

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’5″ 205

Position: Shooting Guard

Heron transferred to St. John’s after two successful seasons at Auburn and he continued that level of play in the Big East. He averaged 14.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 31.7 minutes per game while shooting 40.3% on 3.8 three point attempts. His speed from end to end is not a strength but he is fairly quick with the ball in his hands and he knows how to use angles well to get a shot off. Another season of solid shooting and production not only as a scorer but also locking down players on the wing and he has a chance to be taken in the 2020 draft.

LJ Figueroa

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’7″ 200

Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward

Figueroa came to St. John’s after a year with a JUCO and his first season was a productive one. He can score by knocking down an outside shot at an efficient level as well as inside with about half of his numbers coming in each way. He is not the most athletic or the fastest player which does not help his stock, and he definitely can be quicker with the ball. His rebounding numbers were solid, and his play on the defensive end was impressive by most accounts. Another year putting up similar numbers while continuing to be analytically efficient, and he could get some NBA looks in the next couple of years.

Providence

Alpha Diallo

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’7″ 200

Position: Shooting Guard

Many people though Diallo would be including in the 2019 draft class but Providence got a big lift when he decided to come back for his senior season. He is a legitimate NBA prospect who was solid in sophomore year before improving as a junior and showing improvement in his outside shooting. Entering college his game was more limited to using his athleticism to score but he has since become an effective shooter that still has room to grow in that area. Being a high level athlete and having good size at 6’7″ for his position allows him to guard multiple positions and create mismatches for the offense. With a solid year and team success this season Diallo has a chance to play his way into the first round.

Greg Gantt

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’8″ 205

Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward

Gantt is not a name that hear included as a one and done kind of player from many analysts, but he has the kind of game to go with his 6’8″ frame that will have plenty of NBA eyes on him at Providence. He can play at the two or the three that should give the Friars a variety of interesting lineups especially with Gantt and Alpha Diallo playing together. His ball handling is solid along with good end to end speed and vertical leaping ability. As a physical prospect he fits the mold to be the type of player that impact the game on offense and defense in a big way, he just needs to shoot the ball well and continue to improve as a defender. Whether he turns into a one and done player or he stays a few seasons, it is highly likely that we see Gantt playing professionally in the near future. He has been dealing with an Achilles injury and reports are he should be returning to action soon but no timetable has been announced.

A.J. Reeves

Class: Sophomore

Height/Weight: 6’6″ 205

Position: Shooting Guard

Reeves came onto campus and immediately made an impressive impact on the floor. His outside shooting was the strongest part of his game in which he was efficient and also showed off good range. As an athlete he has good size to go with speed and a solid vertical leap so he has many of the physical attributes need to play at the next level. Providence has a lot of talent on the roster so his numbers might not improve significantly and that will be taken into account by scouts when evaluating Reeves. On the defensive end of the floor he has been able to guard multiple positions well and he can be a high level defender this season, especially blocking shots on the fast break.

Nate Watson 

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’10” 250

Position: Center

Watson is the type of center that you know what you are getting, shot blocking, and a high motor to score around the basket. Although he has shown he is definitely capable of defending the rim he does need to be a more effective shot blocker this year. His minutes went up from his freshman to sophomore seasons as did the overall production where he averaged 11.7 points and 5.2 rebounds in 23.5 minutes. He is a good athlete who can run the floor well for his size and get up for alley oop passes that fits in perfectly with the versatile and athletic talent that is on the Providence roster this season.

Butler

Kamar Baldwin

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’1″ 190

Position: Point Guard

Baldwin has seen his numbers increase in every season over his first three years at Butler using a strong set of play making skills. He is most effective with the ball in his hands being able to create a shot off of the dribble and pull up after a quick crossover. As his usage has gone up his efficiency have gone down, and there are times that his shot is falling but it has not been consistent enough. His passing skills have improved along with his scoring numbers increasing his impact of the game outside of scoring. For his size he rebounds at a very high level using an ability to find the ball coming off the rim that many guards do not have.

Jordan Tucker

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’7″ 220

Position: Small Forward

After coming to Butler from Duke Tucker had a solid sophomore season in what was his first year with meaningful minutes at the college level. He has good size and athleticism which allow him to impact the game on both ends, an area that he should be better in this season. His shot is effective at 37% from behind the arc, and he is very capable of getting by defenders with the ball in his hands. With a larger role this season it will be interesting to see if he can take the next step, but the smart money would be on another improved season. Scouts are going to want to see more production across the board after showing that he can rebound and score after only starting 9 of the 24 games last year.

Khalif Battle

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’5″ 175

Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard

Battle is a natural scorer who can score well in a variety of ways, while also being able to play as the lead guard. He is likely to spend most of his time off of the ball in the early part of his career, but there is a chance that he becomes more of a point guard as time goes on. He has a high level vertical leap and his quickness to go with speed allow him to get by defenders going to the basket. His shot mechanics are solid and he can be an effective shooter at the college level but only time will tell whether or not that occurs.

Depaul

Paul Reed

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’9″ 220

Position: Small Forward

Reed is the definition of a versatile forward who has the size to make plays inside of the paint as well as play on the wing and be productive. He has not put up big numbers yet but last season was his first where he received major minutes at Depaul, with averages of 12.3 points and 8.5 rebounds in 26.9 minutes per game. His defensive play improved last season as well and if he can become a lock down defender against multiple positions it would help his draft stock. As an outside shooter he struggled in his freshman year but as a sophomore he was much better which when put with his ability to drive to the basket and be effective in the fast break make up a skilled offensive player. The expectation is that the three point shot will be a larger part of his game this season as he looks to make a case to be a first round pick.

Romeo Weems

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’7″ 210

Position: Small Forward

Weems is an impressive athlete that also brings a versatile offensive skill set to the table. He has guard skills on the wing being able to drive to the basket with the ability to grab a rebound and take it coast to coast before finishing above the rim. With his athleticism and length he should be able to grow into a lock down defender, but it will take time. His outside shooting was streaky at times so he will need to show that he can be a consistent threat from the outside with his athleticism being somewhat neutralized at the college level.

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow me on Twitter