Seton Hall Pirates sophomore star Isaiah Whitehead officially declared for the 2016 NBA Draft on Wednesday. The 2016 Big East Tournament MVP won't be hiring an agent, but he will be testing the waters as any good prospect could, would and should do this time of year with the new rule allowing for any player to be evaluated and either be approved or sent back to school if they don't feel their evaluations meet up to par.
The Pirates were outstanding this past season, and a lot of that has to do with the play of Isaiah Whitehead. Whitehead did his best Yoenis Cespedes impression for The Hall, rejuvenating a team and a program that hadn't been to the NCAA Tournament in 10 years, and hadn't won a Big East Tournament championship in 23. Whitehead, above all the talented players the Pirates, was the most outstanding and most valuable player for Seton Hall in the 2015-16 season, and their success this season should be credited to him for his efforts.
With the possibility that Whitehead is out of the fold, let's take a look at what they might look like next November if Whitehead is hooping in the Association.
With Whitehead gone, here's a look at the guards that Seton Hall would have at their disposal:
|Jevon Thomas||Khadeen Carrington|
|Dalton Soffer||Myles Powell|
Two players listed were both Pirates this past season as Carrington was an integral role player, while Soffer was a backup shooting guard who only averaged 2.8 minutes per game. Coming into the fold next season are both Myles Powell, a 2016 commit from Trenton, New Jersey and Jevon Thomas, a former Kansas State Wildcat who transferred and sat out this past season.
It goes without saying that the backcourt would obviously be the most affected position group with Whitehead's departure. Only Carrington got significant minutes last season and he would be playing alongside Thomas, who averaged 25.8 minutes per game in his last season in Manhattan back in 2014. Powell is a four-star recruit though and if these past two years are any indication, Kevin Willard has no problem putting freshmen out into the fold.
Forwards, meanwhile, are a very deep position group:
|Desi Rodriguez||Ismael Sanogo||Amarveer Singh||Braeden Anderson|
|Angel Delgado||Rashed Anthony||Myles Carter||Michael Nzei|
Rodriguez emerged as a threat this season in his sophomore year. Angel Delgado, the 2014 Big East Rookie of the Year, played up to par with similar numbers from his freshman season. Sanogo was one of the best defensive players in the conference, and Nzei, Singh, Anthony and Carter played well in limited minutes. Transfer Braeden Anderson would be around for his second year in South Orange, after using up his first of two years of eligibility. While Anderson did not see the floor often, he could still be a valuable, solid piece off the bench.
The overall selling point here on a Whitehead-less Seton Hall team in 2016 is continuity. An advantage that the Pirates will have compared to some of their peers this coming year is how much they're going to be bringing back. If Whitehead departs for the pros, only he and Derrick Gordon will be the departures that Seton Hall will have as of writing. They'll bring back four starters and their entire bench along with Myles Powell, their lone commit of the 2016 class.
Continuity typically produces results. It's why returning starters are so valued on the hardwood. Hell, this season might as well have been "The Year of the Senior." Denzel Valentine, Buddy Hield, Brice Johnson, Marcus Paige, and Ryan Arcidiacono are just some of the impact seniors around the nation, and four of them will be playing this weekend in the Final Four. And all the teams in this weekend's event have an abundance of upperclassmen hooping for them as well.
North Carolina has six combined juniors and seniors. Syracuse has five. Oklahoma has six, like the Tar Heels. And Villanova has five, just like 'Cuse.
Having the assortment of juniors that Seton Hall will have, with or without Whitehead, will pay dividends for coach Willard and the Pirates, who rose up the charts in the Big East this year and might just be getting started in The Garden State.
While a departure from Isaiah Whitehead, one of the best Pirates in recent memory, would no doubt sting, breathe easy Seton Hall fans. The outlook for 2016, whether Whitehead dons blue and white or not, is still very promising thanks to the continuity they will tote along with them.