Before the season started, our staff writers were asked to give our outlook on the upcoming year and rank the top Big East starters at every position. Some guys well exceeded expectations, while others didn't necessarily ascend to the heights we hoped they would rise to.
Preseason Top 5 Shooting Guards
You can find a link to the full original rankings here:
What We Got Right
Darrun Hilliard proved his worth as one of the top guards in the conference during his senior year. He was Nova's top scorer, averaging 14.2 points per game and finishing fifth in the conference in 3-pointers made. The Preseason All-Big East second team selection was unanimously picked for the All-Big East first team at the end of the season, after leading the Wildcats to a 16-2 record in the Big East. Hilliard exits Villanova with no Final Four appearance, but he tried his hardest to break through this season. He hit clutch shot after clutch shot, and his 27 points in the final game against NC State - including three bombs from deep - kept them in the game. It shouldn't be hard for Jay Wright to replace Hilliard, even though that task got a bit tougher with the news of Dylan Ennis' intentions to transfer from the program. But the Big 5 Player of the Year certainly left an imprint on Villanova basketball.
Isaiah Whitehead's freshman season was marred by injury and controversy. The Great Hope for Seton Hall entered South Orange with much fanfare, and the Pirates came out of the gates strong. But once Whitehead went down with a foot injury for six weeks, the weeks started to come off. The Hall finished the year losing nine of their last 10, and Whitehead struggled when he returned. He ended the year shooting under 37% from the field, though he shot 5-for-10 in The Hall's Big East tournament loss to Marquette despite a nagging thumb injury. He was also careless with the ball, coughing up a whopping 3.3 turnovers a game. I would expect him to return for his sophomore season and take the next step in his game in 2016.
Jabril Trawick saved his best season for last with the Hoyas, averaging career high's in points (9.1), rebounds (3.6), and 3-point percentage (.407). His scoring picked up as the season went and his leadership helped Georgetown to a win over Eastern Washington in the NCAA Tournament. His intensity, the emotions he displays on the court, are one of the reasons why Georgetown was able to go so far this year. He's that high energy guy that's going to give 100% every time he's on the floor, and that's something John Thompson III will definitely miss.
Kellen Dunham was outstanding this season. The All-Big East first teamer was an efficient scorer for the Bulldogs, averaging under 17 points per game and shooting 44% from the floor, 42.4% from long range. Dunham's 20-point performance against Texas in the NCAA tournament didn't transfer over to the next game, where Notre Dame held him to just eight points on 2-of-13 shooting, but the sharpshooter has another year to bloom into an unstoppable force on the offensive end. If Butler gets their core guys back next year, Dunham could lead them to a Big East championship.
Devin Brooks was projected to lessen the pain of losing Doug McDermott to the NBA for Creighton. The senior was more bust than boom for the Bluejays this season, averaging under eight points a game on 35% shooting in just 16 starts. His expected jump in minutes never came, as he only played 23 minutes a game this year, serving as the 4th-best scorer on a team in need of offense.
What We Got Wrong
1. Darrun Hilliard (Villanova)
2. Kellen Dunham (Butler)
3. Matt Carlino (Marquette)
4. Isaiah Whitehead (Seton Hall)
5. Jabril Trawick (Georgetown)
This is my opinion, so it'll differ depending who on the staff you ask. You could easily throw Marquette's Duane Wilson in there. The freshman had a good first year with the Golden Eagles, though his shooting percentage should significantly rise next season. With Carlino leaving and Henry Ellenson coming on board, Wilson could be looking at a Kris Dunn-type of year in 2016, exploding onto the scene and developing into a great defender, ball-handler and a better scorer.
Speaking of Carlino, he's the only new addition to this list, replacing Brooks. The transfer senior led Marquette in scoring with 15 points a game, shooting near 42% from 3-point range. His 83 3-pointers was tops in the Big East this season, and the sixth-highest total in school history. The Eagles weren't much of a good team this year, but man was it a joy to see Matt Carlino at work. He was easily one of the most exciting players in the conference this year with his beautiful touch and his flair for the dramatic. He won't make a living in the NBA most likely, but it was a pleasure seeing him finesse through defenses all year.
Besides that, the list is pretty much the same. Hilliard owns that number one spot, and he was my pick to win Player of the Year. He's joined by fellow first-teamer Kellen Dunham at No. 2, with Carlino following up at No. 3. Whitehead showed flashes of greatness when healthy, and his scoring output places him at 4th on this list, followed by Trawick at No. 5.
Take exception to the list? Tell us who YOU think were the Top 5 shooting guards in the Big East this year in our comments section below. We'll revisit the remainder of our preseason lists as the preseason continues, but for now, you can take a look back at our original rankings here: wings, power forwards, centers.