With the NBA draft entry deadline now passed, the 2017-18 college basketball season is starting to come into focus. With the exception of maybe a couple of late grad transfers, we have a good idea of what each team’s roster will look like. The Big East once again looks like one of the top conferences in the country and below is a breakdown of what each team has returning, incoming, and departing.
Returning: Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo, Eric Paschall, Phil Booth, Dylan Painter, Tim Delaney
Incoming: Omari Spellman, Jermaine Samuels, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, Collin Gillespie
Departing: Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, Daryl Reynolds
Some outsiders might view this as a transition year, as Villanova loses three starters from last year’s club, but a strong freshman class plus Spellman gives the team an influx of talent. With more depth and more interior options, this year’s group has potential to excel in area’s that last year’s team didn’t. Leadership will be the immediate question, as the Wildcats have no seniors, but Bridges and Booth have been in the program for four years, while Brunson is entering his third year in a starting role.
Returning: Kelan Martin, Kamar Baldwin, Tyler Wideman, Nate Fowler, Sean McDermott, Henry Baddley, Joey Brunk
Incoming: Paul Jorgensen, Kyle Young, Christian David, Aaron Thompson, Jerald Butler, Cooper Neese, Connor Fulton
Departing: Andrew Chrabascz, Kethan Savage, Avery Woodson, Tyler Lewis
In Martin and Baldwin, the Bulldogs return their two most talented and versatile players from last year’s squad. A stellar recruiting class plus the transfer of Jorgensen (a guard from George Washington) should allow Butler to stay near the top of the conference standings. Size might be an issue, as the Bulldogs need Fowler or Brunk to develop into key contributors or this will be an undersized group again.
Returning: Marcus Foster, Khyri Thomas, Toby Hegner, Davion Mintz, Ronnie Harrell Jr., Martin Kremplelj, Tyler Clement
Incoming: Kaleb Joseph, Manny Suarez, Ty-Shon Alexander, Jacob Epperson, Mitchell Ballock
Departing: Justin Patton, Maurice Watson Jr., Cole Huff, Zach Hanson, Isaiah Zierden, Kobe Paras
Creighton will return its top scorer in Foster, but will be perhaps losing more talent and depth than any other team in the conference. Patton will be hard to replace inside, but Syracuse transfer Kaleb Joseph should help out in the backcourt, while Alexander, a top-100 recruit guard, could have an immediate impact for the team. The pieces are there, but Creighton might be a work in progress early on.
DEPAUL BLUE DEMONS
Returning: Eli Cain, Tre’Darius McCallum, Brandon Cyrus, Joe Hansel, Devin Gage, Levi Cook, Al Eichelberger
Incoming: Max Strus, Marin Maric, Justin Roberts, Jaylen Butz, Paul Reed
Departing: Billy Garrett Jr., Chris Harrison-Docks, Darrick Wood, Erten Gazi
The Blue Demons could be a little better than they were last season. The bring back their top scorer (Cain) and two impact transfers in Strus and Maric. Under Dave Leitao, this program is starting to gain a little juice with a new arena looming and strong 2018 recruiting class. This upcoming season should be a small step back towards relevancy.
Returning: Jessie Govan, Marcus Derrickson, Jagan Mosley, Jonathan Mulmore, Tre Campbell, Kaleb Johnson, George Muresan
Incoming: Trey Dickerson, Chris Sodom, Antwan Walker, Jahvon Blair
Departing: Rodney Pryor, L.J. Peak, Akoy Agau, Bradley Hayes, Reggie Cameron II, Trey Mourning
Initially, there isn’t much for new coach Patrick Ewing to work with, as the departures of Pryor and Peak have the Hoyas perhaps losing more talent than any team in the conference. Govan’s development will be key and a change in coaching style could allow some players to flourish. The wild card is decommitted recruit Tremont Waters, who is one of the top senior point guards in the country and still might wind up with Georgetown.
MARQUETTE GOLDEN EAGLES
Returning: Markus Howard, Andrew Rowsey, Sam Hauser, Haanif Cheatham, Matt Heldt
Incoming: Harry Froling, Sacar Anim, Jamal Cain, Theo John, Ikechukwu Eke, Greg Elliott
Departing: Jajuan Johnson, Luke Fischer, Karin Reinhardt, Duane Wilson
The Golden Eagles seem to have enough talent to return to the NCAA tournament. Although they lose four rotation players, they bring back their top player in Howard and a handful of key role players. Froling, a highly-touted SMU transfer, will give them a force down low after sitting out the first semester. The X-factor is Hauser, a big-time recruit in last year’s class who will be asked to take the next step.
Returning: Rodney Bullock, Emmitt Holt, Kyron Cartwright, Jalen Lindsey, Alpha Diallo, Isaiah Jackson, Kalif Young, Maliek White, Drew Edwards
Incoming: Makai Ashton-Langford, Nate Watson, Dajour Dickens
Departing: Ryan Fazekas, Ricky Council
It should be a special season at the Dunkin Donuts Center, as the Friars return pretty much everyone from a group that finished third in the Big East last season and made the NCAA tournament. Bullock should be among the favorites for conference player of the year, while top freshman Ashton-Langford gives them a much-needed post at point guard. This is likely a top-25 caliber team that could gear up for a run in March.
SETON HALL PIRATES
Returning: Khadeen Carrington, Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguz, Myles Powell, Michael Nzei, Ismael Sanogo, Eron Gordon
Incoming: Myles Cale, Darnell Brodie, Romaro Gill, Sandro, Mamukelashvili, Jordan Walker
Departing: Madison Jones
Once Angel Delgado decided to come back to campus the hype train officially kicked in for the Pirates. This team is very similar to their 2015-16 group that won the Big East Tournament. With experience, depth and versatility, Seton Hall is already being projected as a top-25 team. The key will be avoiding the streaky nature the Pirates have played with in the past.
ST. JOHN’S RED STORM
Returning: Shamorie Ponds, Marcus Lovett, Bashir Ahmed, Federico Mussini, Tariq Owens, Kassoum Yakwe, Amar Alibegovic
Incoming: Justin Simon, Marvin Clark Jr., Zach Brown, Sidney Wilson
Departing: Malik Ellison, Darien Williams, Richard Freudenberg
With a talented group returning, led by a terrific young backcourt, this could be the year that St. John’s contends for a trip back to the NCAA tournament. The young, athletic group also adds Simon (an Arizona transfer) and Clark Jr. (a Michigan State transfer). There’s still a lot of inexperience here and a strong start will be key, but the pieces are beginning to come into place for the Red Storm.
Returning: Trevon Blueitt, J.P. Macura, Sean O’Mara, Kaiser Gates, Quentin Goodin, Tyrique Jones
Incoming: Kerem Kanter, Paul Scruggs, Naji Marshall, Jared Ridder, Elias Harden
Departing: Edmond Sumner, RaShid Gaston, Malcolm Bernard
Once again, Xavier is shaping up to me perhaps Villanova’s toughest competition in the Big East. The decision of Blueitt to withdraw from the NBA draft leads a strong returning core, while a talented recruiting class (led by Scruggs and Marshall) and an impact interior transfer (Kanter) give this team plenty of depth. Replacing Sumner at point guard will be key, but Goodin got plenty of experience last year while Sumner was hurt.