Many storylines have surrounded this Seton Hall Pirates team during the offseason and almost all of them have been positive. This team could really do some special things this season and here are three reasons why.
1. Isaiah Whitehead
Last September, Whitehead was contemplating where he would attend college. At the same time, the Pirates were preparing for a season that did not look all that promising and a future that was uncertain. After Whitehead, signed with the Hall, this program not only received the 14th best prospect according to ESPN, not only the second best shooting guard, and not even a player to build around for the future. No, this Seton Hall program and community was given hope, not only for the near future, but for the possibility of a rise back to power.
Whitehead is arguably the best shooter in the class and could become one of the best shooters in the nation by the end of the season. Expectations are high, but as we saw in the McDonald’s All-American game and his selection for the Jordan Brand Classic, Whitehead looks like the real deal. Case and point, in the All-American game Whitehead dribbled the ball up the court. He was surrounded on a one-on-three breakaway as he dribbled over to the right wing. Whitehead stops and just throws up an arcing fad away two pointer. Not only does it go in, but it was, as Hall alum Dick Vitale loves to say, "Nothin’ but nylon, NBN!"
Plays like that are what Pirates’ fans can come to expect from Whitehead as he will be the face of the program for as long as he wears the blue and white.
2) The Rest of the Recruiting Class
Whitehead is clearly the reason why South Orange is excited about this upcoming season, but what will likely surround him is also making Hall fans eager to see this team. Power forward, rebounding machine and Top 100 prospect Angel Delgado is expected to a force down low. His physical and athletic frame coupled with his ability to end opponent’s possessions with his defense is going to fun to watch. He could be the Robin to Whitehead’s Batman.
Also head coach Kevin Willard brought in many other talented players like guard Khadeen Carrington and small forward Desi Rodriguez who can score the ball at will. They are both fast and can get to the rim use their athleticism to finish. The Pirates lost many players in the frontcourt to graduation, but added small forward Ismael Sanogo and power forward Mike Nzei to try and sure that up.
Outside of recruiting center Chier Ajou transferred from Northwestern to Seton Hall which should help out as well. This team looks promising for not only this season, but for the future.
3) Kevin Willard’s No Tolerance Policy
Last season, fans remember times when starters on the team like Sterling Gibbs, Brian Oliver and Eugene Teague would not make trips with the team on road games because they were not giving it 100 percent at practices. That same mindset is why this year’s younger team will have success. They have already bought in, but they are very young and may struggle at the beginning. Coach Willard should continue his philosophy this season and make sure these guys are always giving it their all because that is what it takes to build a great team. Programs are able to sustain excellence for a long time with a strict policy on practice and execution on the basketball court. That is goal for Willard here. With players like Sterling Gibbs, Jaren Sina and Brandon Mobley coming back to provide that veteran leadership it should be easier for Coach Willard this season.
For these reasons the Pirates could really make some noise in the Big East and beyond this season, but more importantly could provide a spring board for this program to return to prominence in college basketball.