Part two of ranking the Big East continues with a look at the forwards. Centers were covered here. We have power forwards and small forwards all mixed together. It’s a lot of fun. Speaking of fun, let’s get to the list.
Tim Abromaitis – Notre Dame. One of the best returning players in the Big East is Tim Abormaitis. He’s a fun player to watch with his ability to knock down 3s, get rebounds, and make things happen. He averaged 15 points and 6 boards last season. He hit 43% from deep, and 46% overall from the field. His foul shooting took a little step back last year to 78%, but he’s still very good. He’s expected to be the man for the Irish. It’ll be interesting to see if he can carry the load.
Hollis Thompson – Georgetown. Thompson is expected to take a leap this season, as he’s one of the leaders coming back. He averaged 8.6 points and 4.4 rebounds a game. He’s a very good 3 point shooter at 45%. He closed last season with a monster game against VCU. His problem is that he’s too up and down. Before the tournament game, he had a string of 7 of 9 single digit scoring games. One of them featured a 13 rebound performance. I would be more surprised if Thompson didn’t have a big season though. He should average around 16 points a game.
Kris Joseph – Syracuse. Joseph returns as Syracuse’s leading scorer with 14.3 points a game. He also pulled him 5.2 boards, dished 2.2 assists, and had 1.5 steals. He’s on all of the preseason watch lists. He’s on all of the All Big East teams. Joseph is one of the most talented forwards in the nation. He needs to put it all together consistently though. I think he’s going to have a tremendous season.
Cleveland Melvin – DePaul. Melvin’s freshman year at DePaul was tremendous. He won the Big East Rookie of the Year award in part because he put up 17.4 points and 6.3 rebounds in conference play. He blocked 40 shots on the season, and absolutely stood out as one of the best big men in the Big East. Interesting to note Melvin only started 18 games. His numbers in conference play have a chance of being his numbers for the whole season. He’s one to watch.
Kevin Jones – West Virginia. Jones was the second leading scorer for the Mountaineers last year at 13 points a game, and led the team with 7.5 boards. He’s one of the best returning post players in the league. He can score down low, he can make the 3, and he boards hard. He’s one of the players that always seems to be on a Bob Huggins team.
Herb Pope – Seton Hall. Pope recovered from his scary near death experience in the off season to score 9.8 points and get 7.9 rebounds a game. He’s one of the best rebounders in the league, and has been since he stepped on the floor at Seton Hall. Minutes weren’t really a factor health wise, but foul trouble wise. He was constantly in foul trouble with 16 games with 4 or 5 fouls. Being double teamed and being on the bench helped slow down his points. He is going to see a lot of double teams this year unless someone steps up. Pope has the potential for another double double season.
Gilvyda Biruta – Rutgers. Biruta was one of the freshmen that stood out in the Big East last season. He averaged 9.6 points a game with 5.6 rebounds. He did all that in 22 minutes. After a mid season slump, he finished the year scoring in double digits 7 of the last 8 games. He shot 54% in conference play. He is a very good offensive rebounder with 2.4 a game in conference action. Biruta can do it a lot on the floor, and I think he’s in for a big season. I really like his game. Kid can play.
Augustus Gilchrist – South Florida. Gilchrist was the only Bull to average double digits last year, 13.4 points a game. He has a couple of areas that are a concern to me. He isn’t very physical, 6 boards, 22 blocks, and his shooting percentage is a little too low, 44%. If he can get the number around 50, he could take the next step to conference elite big man. He’s a very good foul shooter for a big, hitting over 70% the last two seasons. He finished last year very strong with 18 points a game the last 7. He hasn’t played a full season yet. If he can put it all together his senior year, he could have a great season.
Rakeem Christmas – Syracuse. Christmas comes to Syracuse as one of the most highly thought of recruits in the nation. He was ranked 19 by ESPN and 27 by Rivals. He’s going to be in the Syracuse lineup right away. He’s played a modest amount of minutes in the exhibition season, and posted modest numbers. He didn’t exactly light up the all star games as a high school player either. He may take some time to get his feet wet, but Syracuse has the depth to cover it. He’s going to have some explosive games though.
Otto Porter – Georgetown. The 37th best recruit according to Rivals should step in right away for the Hoyas. He broke Missouri rebounding records in HS, while averaging 30 points a game. He’s been talked about as the next Greg Monroe, which is pretty huge praise. He’s got a good mid-range game by all accounts, and is a versatile big man. He was one of the top recruits for a reason. There are a lot of good freshman forwards in the league, and Porter could end up being the best.
Moe Harkless – St John’s. Harkless was a top 40 recruit coming into this season. He put up 27, 13, 4 assists, 3 blocks and nearly 2 steals as a senior. He was one of the stars in the St John’s opener, putting up 17. He hit the glass hard as well, pulling down 8 boards. Harkless looks like he’s going to come in and make an impact right away.
Chane Behanan – Louisville. Behanan is one of the top players from this season’s recruiting class. He was a 5 star, ranked 21. He’s played like it so far. He dominated when Louisville was in the Bahamas, and he dominated exhibition play. He’s only 6’6, but he has a motor to make up for it. He looks like Louisville’s best post player in years. I’m very high on Chane.
DeAndre Daniels – Connecticut. Daniels is another big time UConn recruit. He was ranked 10th by Rivals and 19 by max preps. He came off the bench with 13 points, 3 assists and 4 blocks in the last UConn exhibition. Daniels has a world of talent. He could very well do what Jeremy Lamb did for UConn last year.
Jae Crowder – Marquette. Jae Crowder is not the biggest guy in the world. Being listed at 6’6, 235 is not that impressive. But, Crowder has his motor set on high, which helped him put up 11.8 points a game, 6.8 rebounds, and record 48 steals. Crowder took and made the second most 3s on the team last season, so that gives an indication of what he likes doing offensively. He was all over the floor the second half against Syracuse in the NCAAs. Crowder brings a lot to the table.
Khem Birch – Pittsburgh. Birch comes in as one of the most hyped freshman in the Big East. The McDonald’s All American put up 18-13-6 blocks as a senior. He was a second team AA by USA today,a and a top 17 recruit by Scout and Max Preps. Birch dominated inside during the McDonald’s game, showing that he could produce against other elite players. His rebounding and shot blocking ability could get him some major minutes right off the bat.
Nate Lubick – Georgetown. Lubick was a top 50 recruit when he made his way to Georgetown last season, and he had a solid 4 points and 3.5 boards in his 19 minutes a game. He hit 53% of his field goal attempts, and dished out an assist a game. He moved into the starting lineup at the tail end of last year, and should be there as the season starts. He should be a solid rebounder, something like 6.6 a game, and if he can chip in 10 points, 2 assists, that would be a fine season. His only problem is that he looks weird in a Georgetown uniform.
JayVaughn Pinkston – Villanova. Pinkston came to Nova last year as a McDonald’s All American, but a code of conduct violation got him suspended for the season. He’s back this year seemingly dedicated to basketball. He was a force in HS with 25 points, 13 boards, 5 assists and 2 blocks. He can play inside and outside. He can bang on the boards with his 6’7 frame and 260 lbs. He should find his way into the starting lineup at the 4 spot. He could be a big time player.
Nasir Robinson – Pittsburgh. Robinson enters his senior year as one of the Panther leaders. Even though he is undersized, he bangs down low. He was more offensive last year than he had been previously, going for 9.4 points, and doubling the amount of trips to the line. He raised his free throw percentage by over 10% to boot. Robinson is a guy who guards his ass off, and leaves it all on the floor. He’s not the most talented, but he plays hard. He’s one of the guys that makes me want to root for Pitt.
Roscoe Smith – Connecticut. Smith played in all 41 of UConn’s games last year, starting most of them. He put in a solid 6, 5, 1.2 blocks. Those were his numbers during the NCAA run as well. He seems to have a little trick or treat in him, but Smith can definitely make an impact when he’s on. He played very well in the tournament, and will help keep the UConn front line imposing.
Patrik Auda – Seton Hall. Auda played in 24 of the Pirate games last season. He started 1 and missed 7 with turf toe. It happens in basketball too. He scored 3.2 a game with 2.5 boards. He has some ranged, showed off by a 3 three pointer game against Marquette. He is a good offensive rebounder, 26 of his 59. Seton Hall is short up front, so Auda should see his minutes and numbers improve. I’m thinking something like 9 and 5.
Jack Cooley – Notre Dame. Cooley played in 10 minutes a game last year, with 3.7 points and 3.1 rebounds. He’s expected to take on a starting role this season. He’s played well in the exhibition season. Although he came off the bench in the last game. I guess that’s a message that his starting job is not just handed to him. Cooley was one of those guys that would come in the game, seem to get every rebound, and score a put back. Cooley obviously had a lot of quiet games, but the Irish need him to play like Luke Harangody, not just look like him.
Victor Rudd – South Florida. Rudd is a transfer from Arizona State. He jumped right in the starting lineup. He put up 11-9 in the exhibition game against Tampa. He played a team best 31 minutes in the contest. He was a 3 star recruit when he went to Arizona State, but he only played 15 games there. He is going to get the chance to produce right away. He could be a guy to watch.
Markus Kennedy – Villanova. Kennedy originally committed to Nova last year, but went to a prep school instead. He comes in this year a little more seasoned. He’s a highly thought of recruit by scout and ESPN, 4 stars, and is said to have a good offensive game. He changed his body during his prep school year. It sounds like he could be a nice reserve for Yarou.
Durand Johnson – Pittsburgh. Johnson comes in with a lot of hype, although not quite as much as Birch. Johnson was a top 150 recruit by everyone, peaking at 88 by Scout. He put up 15 a game last year. He’s desribed with NBA range on his Pitt bio. He’s 6’6, so he could be a match up nightmare for opponents when he’s on the floor.
Mikael Hopkins – Georgetown. Hopkins comes in as a 4 star recruit. He’s top 100 by rivals, and a top 15 power forward. On his Scout profile, one of the things that sticks out huge is that one of his weaknesses is intensity/passion. As we’ve seen with Yancy Gates, that’s not something that can be taught, a guy has to want it. The Hoyas are pretty thin up front, so Hopkins should see some action. One of his weaknesses was that he is a garbage scorer, but hey, garbage men get buckets too. He should slide into the Nate Lubick role from last year.
Deniz Kilicli – West Virginia. The Turk put up 6.6 and 4 boards in mainly a reserve role last season. He’s one of those guys who can have a sneaky good game and really take you by surprise. The other side to the coin is that sometimes he disappears. He’s a pretty good shooter, 48%, and if he can find a way to be consistent, he could be a very solid player.
Austin Johnson – Rutgers. Johnson put up 4.5 and 2.4 in 16 minutes a game last season. He was the first guy off the bench. Now he is in the starting lineup. He finishes around the basket as a 53% shooter. He has been more of a scorer than a rebounder in his time on the floor. He went for 16 against Providence. He had a rough exhibition game, fouling out in 9 minutes. He’s got to stay on the court. He can block a few shots, but needs to improve his rebounding.
CJ Fair – Syracuse. Fair came off the bench for the Orange to the tune of 18 minutes a game his freshman season. He averaged 6.4 points and 3.8 rebounds a game. He is one of those guys who comes off the bench and if he’s playing well, he’s not going back. He saw as much as 36 minutes, and as few as 10. He’s a nice guy to call into action.
Sir’Dominic Pointer – St John’s. Almost want to rank him the top forward because of his name. He was a top 25 recruit, averaging 20, 9, 5, 4 blocks and 4 steals. That’s doing everything that you can possibly do. Due to St John’s limited roster at the time, he’s going to play a lot of minutes and get the chance to show his stuff.
Ron Anderson Jr – South Florida. Anderson was one of the Bulls best front line players last season. In 22 minutes a game, he averaged 7 points and 6.4 rebounds. He was the team leader in boards as well as blocks. He shot 50% from the field. His problem is foul trouble. He was disqualified 5 times last year. He fouled out of the exhibition game. His aggression helps him a lot, but it also hurts a little bit. If he can control that, the Bulls could have a nice looking front court.
LaDontae Henton – Providence. Henton looks like he’s going to be in the Friar lineup from game one. He is a 3 star recruit who put up giant numbers in Michigan, 25 points, 14.5 boards, 5.2 assists and 3.1 blocks. He had 9 boards in the last exhibition game, and averaged 13 points. He’s going to see time at the 3 and 4 it appears. He’ll make a solid impact.
Dante Taylor – Pittsburgh. Taylor was the back up center for the Panthers last season, averaging 5.1, and 4.5. He pulled home 2.1 offensive boards a game. He had a big game against UConn in the Big East Tournament. He can block some shots for you as well. He has good touch around the basket, shooting 62% last season. He is a middling free throw shooter, and got in some foul trouble. Those are his weak points. He could have a breakout season.
Moses Morgan – DePaul. Morgan played in all 28 games as a freshman. He got 14 minutes a game, averaging 5.1 points. Like Melvin, he stepped up his game when conference play started. 4 of his last 5 games were double digit scoring performances. Most of those came in blow outs, but Morgan can be a little microwave off the bench. He should start this season.
Tyler Olander – Connecticut. Tyler played in 39 games last season, starting 21. He put up 1.5 and 2 for the season, but less than a point and a board in Big East play. He’s started both exhibition games at center, and played about 25 minutes a game. He’s put up some decent numbers. With all the depth UConn has up front, the 9 and 7 Olander is putting up so far would be icing on the cake. Even a 6-5 line would be great.
Brice Kofane – Providence. Kofane is a redshirt freshman. He’s known for his shot blocking ability. He’s a little undersized at center, 6’8, but has a lot of raw tools. His defensive game is miles ahead of his offensive game. If he can score and rebound, that could end up being good enough for the Friars. He could start, but would probably come off the bench when/if Kadeem Batts returns.
Davante Gardner – Marquette. Gardner had a very solid beginning and ending to his freshman season. His best games were the opener against Prairie View, where he scored 17, and the closer against North Carolina, where he scored 16. He averaged 4.4 and 2.2 in 9 minutes. He came on late, with solid games in the Big East Tournament, and the Carolina game. He should be the first big off the bench for the Eagles, and a solid one at that.
Tom Knight – Notre Dame. Knight played in 14 games as a sophomore. He didn’t do a whole lot with the limited time, 20 points, 16 boards on the season, but his role is expected to pick up this year. He’s probably going to be one of the first big men off the bench.
Toarlyn Fitzpatrick – South Florida. Fitzpatrick saw a dimished role last year, 14 minutes a game, but still put up a 4-4 line. 41 of his 94 rebounds were offensive. It might have just been an exhibition, but he had 11 boards against Tampa. It seems like he’s going to get most of his run when someone is in foul trouble, or just as a sub. We know one thing though, dude is a gunner for stats. He shot 17 less field goals in nearly 300 less minutes.
Dominique Rutledge – West Virginia. Rutledge is a 6’8 JUCO transfer from Western Texas. He was a 3 star recruit according to Rivals. He’s been a solid rebounder at every stop. West Virginia is counting on him for front line depth.
Rakeem Buckles – Louisville. Rock is one of the more underrated big men in the Big East. He was explosive at times during his sophomore season, at one point leading the conference in rebounding. Unfortunately, he’s been stuck by the injury bug a lot during his career. He’s coming off knee surgery, and that’s putting him out of action as the season starts. When he comes back, it’ll be interesting to see if he has the same explosiveness he showed last year.
Kadeem Batts – Providence. Batts is an interesting player to rank right now. He showed a lot of flashes that he could be a very solid low post player, finishing the year with 7.1 points and 5.8 rebounds a game. He put up a couple of double doubles last year, including against Cincinnati. The problem with him is that he’s indefinitely suspended from the team. No one really seems to know why. This ranking is more for the suspension than the talent.
Greg Whittington – Georgetown. The freshman was a 3 star recruit by Rivals. Since Georgetown has the worst player profiles imaginable, most of this information is from Casual Hoya. Whittington put up 24, 12, 4 assists and 3 blocks in HS. CH has him projected as a small forward/shooting guard role, which would be a bad proposition for most of the league, as Whittington is listed at 6’8. He’s not the biggest guy in the world, under 200 lbs, so that could be an issue if he has to go inside. Minutes are also a little bit of an issue.
Talib Zanna – Pittsburgh. Zanna played in 28 games his freshman season, starting 13 of them. The 6’9 forward recorded a double double against Maryland. Overall, he was good for 3.7, and 3.4 in 12 minutes a game. He was a poor foul shooter, 47%, but he was money around the basket, connecting at a 56% rate. He’s been hurt 2 of his 3 years as a Panther, but if he can stay healthy, he could contribute to the front line.
Jared Swopshire – Louisville. Swop is in an interesting situation. He missed all of last season, Pitino said that he’s not going to be coming back for his senior season, and then said that Swop could be left in the cold when the season starts. Swop responded very well in the Cardinals last exhibition game, so that talk seems premature. He can make free throws, and rebound well for his frame.
Donnavan Kirk – DePaul. Kirk was a top 30 power forward when he was recruited to Miami a couple seasons ago. He only played 17 games as a Hurricane before transferring to DePaul. He’ll probably be the first one off the bench to spell Melvin and Faber in the middle. He could be a 4-4 guy.
JJ Moore – Pittsburgh. Moore played in 23 games as a freshman last season, averaging 3.7 points. He was a little turnover prone. But on the plus side, 14 of his 29 rebounds were offensive. Moore got some chances in the early season wins to put up points, but as the season progressed, he sat on the bench. He could be an interesting player if he got some run.
Jamail Jones – Marquette. Jones came into Marquette ranked 52 by Rivals and 53 by ESPN, but for whatever reason, he couldn’t get off the Marquette bench. Maybe he just wasn’t ready for prime time. He barely played in Big East action, until the blowout loss to Louisville in the BET. He averaged 16, 6 and 3 steals as a high school senior, so obviously he’s got some talent. His issue seems to be putting it all together.
Kevin Noreen – West Virignia. Noreen got action in 7 games last season before blowing out his knee. He has returned all the way, which is good for the Mountaineers. He’s probably going to be the starting center. He saw about 6 minutes a game, putting up 2.6 points and 1.7 boards. He has some passing ability. I would expect Huggins to bring him along kind of slowly. Noreen is highly talented, and if he’s healthy, he could be a big help to WVU.
James Southerland – Syracuse. James averaged 14 minutes a game in the 28 games he played, scoring 4.9 points and getting 2.3 rebounds. In the games he played is a big part of that sentence. He played 38 against Pitt, and then played 38 minutes the next month. Syracuse is playing a lot of guys a lot of minutes in exhibition play, but it looks like Southerland is going to get the short end of the stick again this season.
Jamil Wilson – Marquette. Wilson is a transfer from Oregon, where he put up 4.7 and 3.2. He was a top 30 prospect by Scout and ESPN coming out of high school. The fact he couldn’t get off the bench at Oregon seems odd. He seems like more of a scorer than a rebounder, but the talent is there. He should provide some size for the Golden Eagles.
Aaron Bowen – Georgetown. Bowen is listed as a forward, but many expect him to play the 2 as well. He averaged 17.5 points in high school, with 4 assists. Bowen redshirted last year with a shoulder injury, but is recovered. He seems like his role is going to be as a scorer off the bench.
Tommie McCune – West Virginia. McCune averaged 16 and 9 as a high school senior. That earned him a 102 ranking by Rivals and 4 stars. McCune is in the running for one of the starting spots. He’s going to get a chance to show off his talent at the 4. Even if he doesn’t crack the starting group, he has the makings of an energy guy off the bench.
Greg Lewis – Rutgers. Lewis comes to Rutgers as a top 150, 3 star recruit. Lewis was thought of as a top 20 center recruit by nearly everyone. He averaged 17 points and 8 boards as a senior. He’s expected to see some action off the bench. Only played 9 minutes in the most recent exhibition.
Juan Anderson – Marquette. Anderson comes to Marquette ranked 61 by Rivals. He put up a solid 16.6, 7 boards and 5 assists. As Anonymous Eagle pointed out, Buzz Williams doesn’t really give freshmen a whole lot of run. He seems to have a nice all around game. If he can get on the floor, he could be a versatile player for the Eagles.
Jamee Crockett – DePaul. Crockett is a 6’4 small forward who averaged 22, 7, and 2.7 steals in high school last season. Crockett is going to get a chance to see action right away with some of the injuries that DePaul is facing. He was ranked as the 82nd small forward by ESPN. He sounds like an energy man in some of the things I’ve seen. DePaul is going to need a spark off the bench. It could be Crockett.
Keaton Miles – West Virgina. Miles is a 6’6 freshman who put up 18 and 13 his senior year. He’s in the running, along with Tommie McCune, for one of the starting spots in the Mountaineer line up. He is a slasher. Miles started the NKU game, but didn’t score. He’s going to get the chance to make an impact.
Aaron Brown – West Virginia. Brown is a 3 star recruit who is going to see time at the small forward spot. He’s a lefty, which is always a thing that throws people off. Especially when they are a wing player. Brown put up 20.5 points, 7.2 boards, 2.1 assists, and 1.5 steals his senior season.
Lee Goldsbrough – Providence. Goldsbrough didn’t see a lot of action as a freshman, 4.5 minutes a game in only 16 games. He played 14 minutes total in Big East play. He should see more playing some on a short Friar bench. He has only taken 1 shot during exhibition play. He did pull home 6 boards, but he had 4 fouls. He seems like a rotation player.
Brandon Mobley – Seton Hall. Mobley is a 3 star recruit according to Rivals. He’s expected to be a part of the Seton Hall thin front line. But, he’s currently out with a shoulder injury. He’s expected to return in December. He put up 21-11 and hit 45% of his 3s in prep school last season. He’s going to see time, hopefully he’s healthy.
Stephan Van Trese – Louisville. SVT has a giant question mark around him, and that’s playing time. He put up 4 and 4 when he got minutes last season. When he got minutes is the big part of that sentence. Pitino has a lot of options on the roster, and it seems to this writer that Van Trese could be on the outs. He’s a solid guy for when everyone is in foul trouble.
Mike Broghammer – Notre Dame. Broghammer is an awesome name. It sounds like he was meant to play at ND. He spent last season battling knee injuries. As a result, he’s played in just 23 games his first 2 seasons. Despite his cool name, it sounds like he’s more big man depth than rotation player.
Ron Giplaye – Providence. Giplaye averaged 5 minutes a game last season, scoring 1.6 points and getting 1.6 rebounds. He saw most of his statistical success come early in the season. He’s played an average of 7 minutes a game in exhibition play, so it looks like he’s going to be in the same boat as last season.
Kadeem Jack – Rutgers. Jack was a huge recruit to Rutgers in January, ranked 33, and getting 4 stars from Rivals. He redshirted last season. Unfortunately, he’s been sidelined to at least the middle of January with a foot injury. He averaged 16.5 points a game as a senior. He might not have a huge impact this season, but he’s a guy to keep your eye on.
Mookie Jones – Syracuse. Jones saw action in 13 games last year. He averaged 3.5 points in 8 minutes. He barely got off the bench in Big East play. He’s played modest minutes during the exhibition season. Look for him to get most of his time in November and December.
Angel Nunez – Louisville. Nunez comes to Louisville as a top 30 small forward prospect. He’s not expected to see a lot of action this season.
Matt Lyde-Cajuste – Syracuse. He played 12 minutes last year. Don’t think he’s going to make much of an impact.
Sam Sealy – St John’s. Sealy is a walk on who probably won’t see a ton of action. He was probably the only one not to play against William and Mary.
Aron Nwankwo – Pittsburgh. Nwankwo is a sophomore walk on. He’s on the team to boost the GPA and cause chants by the student section.
Matt Tomaszewski – Syracuse. He’s a victory cigar type player. Went 3-3 from 3 last year.
Benjamin Stewart – Connecticut. Stewart is the senior white guy off the bench late in games.
Alberto Damour – South Florida. He played 4 minutes last year, the most being in the Big East Tournament loss to UC. Someone has to be on the bottom of the list, sorry Alberto.