Conference Breakdown: No. 4 Big East

One half of the former Big East is … the Big East. The non-football members of the conference retained the name and the Catholic tradition while others split and formed the AAC, and several imports give the new Big East a Southern and Midwestern presence.

Best Class

Somewhat quietly, John Thompson III constructed an elite, national top five class. The Hoyas don't depend on any one superstar; instead, they inked four top-100 prospects and set up the program for excellence and continuity.

Isaac Copeland arguably is the showpiece. He's a stretch forward who shoots smoothly to 22 feet and complements his touch with explosive two-footed leaping ability. Though not heralded for his slashing, he surprises defenders with spectacular lob slams on out-of-bounds plays. He's also a talented turnaround jump shooter who can punish shorter defenders from the high post.

Ranked just one spot behind Copeland at No. 49, Paul White will bring his share of finesse and skill as well. Both Copeland and White project as tremendous fits for the Hoyas' system and should be able to earn immediate playing time.

Neither L.J. Peak nor Tre Campbell boasts quite the reputation of the finesse forwards, but they're impressive performers with legitimate high-major ability as well.

Other Winners

Big East Rankings
1.  Georgetown
2.  Seton Hall
3.  Xavier
4.  Marquette
5.  Providence
6.  Villanova
7.  Creighton
8.  Butler
9.  DePaul
10.  St. John's

While we gave Georgetown the nod, Seton Hall landed arguably the conference's most potent class. The Pirates triumphed for strong, tough and very aggressive scorer Isaiah Whitehead, a top-15 talent who could emerge as one of the country's most prolific rookies in 2014-15.

Whitehead instilled hope where it was needed, and he won't arrive to campus alone. The Pirates also won out for top-50 warrior Angel Delgado, a terrific rebounder and insatiable competitor who'd slot even more highly if he were just a little taller. Three star wing Khadeen Carrington and unsung Ismael Sanogo will add perimeter depth.

Chris Mack and Xavier assembled a massive success story. The Musketeers lassoed five players, including top-50 scorer — and former UCLA pledge — Trevon Bluiett. Though not a great athlete, Bluiett finds a way to put the ball through the hoop and could emerge as an impact player once he fine tunes his body.

XU also secured big-time, versatile defender Makinde London and a much-needed shooting ace in J.P. Macura. Edmond Sumner and Sean O'Mara will provide quality support to the top-100 trio.

Immediate Impact

Top Big East Prospects
Top Prospect:Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall
Best Scorer:Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall
Best Passer:Sandy Cohen, Marquette
Best Shot Blocker:Paschal Chukwu, Providence
Best Floor General:Tre Campbell, Georgetown
Best Post Player:Angel Delgado, Seton Hall
Best Athlete:Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall
Best Rebounder:Angel Delgado, Seton Hall
Best Shooter:Trevon Bluiett, Xavier

Whitehead will carry the torch for Big East freshmen. He's not only the most talented recruit headed into the conference, he's physically and mentally ready to challenge all comers fiercely. His play during the summer ranged from strong to spectacular, and he may light up the scoreboard right away in South Orange.

How did the Big East stack up?

With 17 top-100 seniors set to enter the conference next season, the results speak for themselves. And in addition to the three schools highlighted above, Providence and Villanova also secure impressive hauls.

If there's a downside, it's that the bottom of the conference — as well as the former mid-majors now stepping up in class — have struggled relative to major conference expectations.


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