Since CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein decided to throw out his early preseason 1st team last week I figured why not take my crack at it. Obviously everyone won't agree on this but I'll lay out my picks and give my reasoning below.
Note: I'm not trying to predict what the actual First Team will be in October. Feel free to disagree in the Scout message board, on Facebook, on Twitter or just to yourself in the comfort of your own home.
2014 Preseason First Team All-BIG EAST
D'Angelo Harrison (St. John's)
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (Georgetown)
Darrun Hilliard II (Villanova)
LaDontae Henton (Providence)
Jayvaughn Pinkston (Villanova)
One interesting note about the All-BIG EAST First Team from the 2013-14 season: only one player from last year's team will be back next season with Doug McDermott, Markel Starks, Bryce Cotton and James Bell graduating and Semaj Christon entering the NBA Draft early. That one player is D'Angelo Harrison.
Harrison should be poised for another big year for Steve Lavin with Rysheed Jordan returning after a very good second half of his rookie season to run the point and allow Harrison to play off the ball more. When St. John's was at their best last season it was when they were running with the ball. During a 6 game winning streak in February, Harrison averaged 18.5 ppg (including scoring only 7 in a blowout win over Butler) and Jordan averaged 4.67 apg during that same span which was 1.67 apg higher than his season average. Harrison really was a different person last season in terms of keeping his emotions in check and playing more within himself. He struggled at times but I believe it was more a product of the entire Red Storm offense struggling to find their identity and get some rhythm. Harrison will be a legit candidate for preseason Player of the Year.
Another legit preseason POY candidate is Georgetown's D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. DSR was the most consistent scorer for the Hoyas during a down season in 2013-14 but with the highest ranked recruiting class in the Big East (ranked 11th nationally in the 247Sports Composite class rankings) coming in this season, Smith-Rivera should have some more help and Georgetown will have a rebound year. I believe the scoring lead for the conference will be a battle all season between Harrison and DSR but I think Harrison probably takes the crown. DSR did have 10 games in which he scored at least 20 points including 2 where he went for 31 and 32 points respectively. He likely won't need to do that as much next season but he will certainly have his share of 20 point games. DSR was named to the Second Team All-BIG EAST last season.
Darrun Hilliard II is a guy that I felt flew under the radar at times last season nationally with Pinkston and Arcidiacano (I really would love for announcers to work on this pronunciation this offseason) getting a lot of the attention but he was arguably the team's best player. He made a big jump in shooting efficiency (overall FG % from 40% to 48.6%, 3 pt. % from 31.5% to 41.4%) from his sophomore to junior seasons and I think he will add more volume to that efficiency this season to up his scoring into the 16 ppg range. Hilliard II was named to the All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention team last season.
LaDontae Henton is a guy that I can guarantee you will not see on the actual preseason First Team in October. How do I know that? He is constantly overlooked and undervalued - even by the Providence fanbase at times! He didn't even make the Honorable Mention team last season. His game is certainly not flashy but he will likely be looked upon to lead the 2014-15 Providence Friars. Henton and Carson Desrosiers (and maybe Ted Bancroft if he gets his waiver for a 5th year) will likely be the co-captains for Ed Cooley next season. Henton, like Hilliard, had an improved shooting year from sophomore to junior year and he will likely see his shots/gm increase on a Providence team that currently is lacking in both shooting and scoring threats with the graduation of Bryce Cotton and Kadeem Batts and the recent transfer of Josh Fortune. I expect Henton to average around 16 ppg and 7 rpg next season.
Last, but certainly not least, is Villanova's JayVaughn Pinkston. Pinkston is one of the toughest players to guard in all of the Big East. He is a bull in a china shop that has a good touch around the rim to go along with a solid mid-range game. He has particularly killed Providence over his career, averaging 19.2 ppg and 7 rpg in 5 games against the Friars, including a monster 28 point and 14 rebound game his freshman season where he hit big shot after big shot down the stretch to give the Wildcats a thrilling 74-72 win in February 2012. He is another player that has numbers trending a positive direction. His overall field goal percentage has jumped every year from 40.8% to 46.4% to 52.1% this past season. Pinkston was named to the Second Team All-BIG EAST last season.
You can find more of Mike's work on his site, pcbb1917.com and you can also follow him on Twitter @pcbb1917.
Picking the 2014-15 All-Big East Team
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