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Midseason Big East Draft Guide

While the season is still in full swing and all these players may not declare this year, here are the next-level prospects of 28 Big East players

NCAA Basketball: Butler at Villanova Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Below is a 1-28 ranking of the Big East’s top NBA Draft prospects, regardless of what year they eventually decide to declare

1. Mikal Bridges - Villanova

Bridges started his career off as a defensive stopper. Over the last three months, he’s become a likely lottery pick. Using his 7-foot wingspan for good on both ends of the floor, Bridges is a quality defender against positions two through four, and he also creates separation on the offensive end using his length. Averaging 17.5 points per game as a junior, nearly an eight-point increase from a season ago, he’s found ways to consistently contribute despite not being Villanova’s primary option. He may never evolve into a great one-on-one scorer, but Bridges will be able to affect the game in so many different ways at the next level.

2. Khyri Thomas - Creighton

No Big East prospect has had a bigger rise this season than Thomas. By utilizing his impressive wingspan on the defensive end against guards and forwards alike, Thomas actually forces the opposition to adjust its game plan when he changes assignments. From Jalen Brunson to Kelan Martin, Thomas usually gets his way. He continues to drain threes at nearly a 40 percent clip, and his explosiveness in transition is jaw dropping. His increased usage and production have catapulted him into the conversation as a late first round draft pick, and his skill set would fit with any NBA team.

3. Jalen Brunson - Villanova

Brunson’s combination of perimeter shooting, pick-and-roll playmaking, and consistent overall play make him a driving force for top-ranked Villanova. He’s on pace to become the first major conference player in the past 20 seasons to score 19 points and own a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, and Brunson hasn’t turned the ball over more than three times in a game since last February. Even playing alongside Bridges, his feel for the game is the biggest establisher of Villanova’s up-tempo style that perplexes defenses across the country. Brunson also provoked one of the season’s best quotes when Chris Mack said, “If your peeled his face off you’d probably have wires coming out of it.”

4. Angel Delgado - Seton Hall

A strong, athletic big man, Delgado might be able to bully his way into an NBA rotation through his work in the paint and on the glass. His post-ups (something he’ll probably drop down the road) are still a work in progress for a high-octane Seton Hall team, but his rebounding is as legitimate as Brunson’s playmaking ability. He’s averaging 13.4 points and 11.7 rebounds, and he’s led the Big East in offensive rebounding in each of the last three seasons. Delgado rarely shoots from the perimeter and shoots just 49.3 percent from the field, a below average figure for a big, but his elite level rebounding combined with his developing passing skills make him a potential undrafted free agent to watch next season.

5. Trevon Bluiett - Xavier

Evident throughout Xavier’s NCAA Tournament run last season, Bluiett is one of the most dynamic scorers in college basketball. From the post, off a screen or in transition, he’s able to pull up on a moment’s notice. The 6-foot-6 forward is shooting a career-high 42.6 percent from three as a senior, and his production statistically increases in the second halves of close games. Chris Mack has started him at both the three and the four this season, where he’s been successful defending sharpshooters like Jacob Evans and scorers like Marcus Foster. Xavier has Bluiett guard the opponent’s best wing, despite his average athleticism and wingspan, and he usually holds his own for forty minutes.

6. Kelan Martin - Butler

Getting over poor shot selection and an inconsistent motor was a three-year project for Martin, now averaging 20 points per game in his senior season. After being brought off the bench as a junior and a sophomore as a result of his overconfidence, Martin is in the top five in the conference scoring and rebounding, and he leads the league in minutes played with 36.4 per game. Martin is even more of a matchup nightmare than he was a season ago, evident in his 37-point outing against Marquette, and he’s punishing in every facet from pick-and-roll ball handling to post ups.

7. Ty-Shon Alexander - Creighton

Facing Northwestern in a close November nonconference matchup, Alexander lost a shoe and kept playing anyway for about a minute until a stoppage of play. He’s a free flowing and energetic point guard who seems even more confident with the ball in his hands. One of the best athletes in the conference, Alexander is acrobatic around the rim and can create his own shot whenever Greg McDermott asks him to. That isn’t quite that often for the freshman, who plays less than 20 minutes per game. He still turns the ball over too much and takes ill-considered shots, inspiring McDermott to use him ad hoc, but Alexander will grow into a starring role once Foster and Thomas pass through.

8. Omari Spellman - Villanova

Spellman is the conference’s best combination of strength and skill. An accurate three-point shooter and a brute on the block with the ball in his hands, Spellman is a talented scoring forward. The highly touted redshirt freshman has developed a great chemistry with Brunson on offense, and Spellman has the fourth-most rebounds in the Big East and is second in blocks. His consistent effort has made him a cog that has started all but one game for the best team in the country. Spellman’s 10 point and 10 rebound performance against Gonzaga’s talented front line looked completely different from his 27-point outing against Temple, and the variety of ways he can affect the game is unique.

9. Kamar Baldwin - Butler

Baldwin will never be a point guard for Butler, but LaVall Jordan can’t afford to keep the ball out of the hands of the 6-foot guard. Not only does he average 15.5 points per game on 46.5 percent shooting, but he’s one of the best perimeter defending guards in the Big East. He’s a high-volume scorer who makes an even bigger impact defensively against the gauntlet of Big East point guards. For example, he held Markus Howard, the Big East’s leading scorer, to just fourteen points, and his effort is consistent as anyone’s on that end from possession to possession.

10. Phil Booth - Villanova

He’s famous for scoring 20 points against UNC in the title game two years ago, but after missing almost all of last season with a torn meniscus, Booth has emerged with a more well-rounded game. He’s solid with the ball in his hands as a pick-and-roll ball handler, and he has an impressive midrange game to complement it. He’s averaging 12.4 points per game and shooting an astronomical 44.7 percent from three. Booth’s defense is particularly stingy, as he can guard three positions, and he’s tough for bigger guys to push around on the block.

11. Marcus Foster - Creighton

An effective isolation scorer and a high-volume shooter, Foster carries the load for Creighton. The fifth-year senior will likely be remembered for his last second dagger against Xavier at MSG a season ago, and Foster has scored more than 20 points eight times this season. He leads the Big East in field goals and field goal attempts, while Khyri Thomas covers his tracks on the defensive end. Consistently assigned to the weaker opposing wing, Foster’s defensive impact is minimal, and his lack of explosiveness stands out on an athletic Creighton team. In several lineups, he’s the only one who doesn’t have above the rim talent, yet he remains elite at creating separation on the perimeter.

12. Jessie Govan - Georgetown

Playing on a team with limited offensive talent, Govan stands out as the best center in the Big East. His turnaround jumpshots from the post are as efficient as they are pretty, and he’s able to finish a hook shot with either hand. After averaging just 10.1 points and 5 rebounds in 21 minutes as a sophomore, he gets 17.6 points and 8.2 rebounds in 32.6 minutes now. His blocks and assists are up, and, more importantly, his fouls are down. In the Big East, the competition tailors their play to stop him, but that wouldn’t be the case with more talent around him.

13. Donte DiVincenzo - Villanova

Playing a sixth man role for the Wildcats, DiVincenzo comes in and increases the pace of the game when their offense stalls. Arguably the best dunker in the conference, the redshirt sophomore puts up 13.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists despite his limited role alongside several more prominent NBA prospects. His baskets come mostly at the rim, where Brunson sets him up for an easy bucket time after time. DiVincenzo has also improved as a three-point shooter this season, increasing his three-point percentage from 36.5 percent to 41.3 percent. He seems capable of taking on a bigger offensive burden for Villanova once Brunson and Bridges pass through.

14. Markus Howard - Marquette

The betting line on Big East player scoring forty on a given night would be at its lowest for Howard. The conference’s leading scorer once had 40 points in the last twenty-five minutes of a game, and even his off-balance attempts in the lane and beyond the arc seem beneficial for an otherwise well-balanced Marquette offense. He shoots 47.6 percent from the field and has made 55 out of 55 free throws this season. But his rotations aren’t as perfect. Even though he usually guards the opponents’ second-best option, he struggles to stay in the play. In conference play, he averages less than a steal per game and has never recorded a block, highlighting his lack of intensity.

15. Khadeen Carrington - Seton Hall

A high-flyer, aggressive finisher and tenacious defender, Carrington makes a solid running mate for Delgado. The best moves for the talented offensive player are his step back three and his left-handed floater, and the senior guard is averaging 14.2 points this season. He largely struggles with efficiency, as he shoots just 40.7 percent from the field (as well as a discouraging 42.9 percent from inside the three-point line). Both his field goal percentage and his points per game have decreased this season, but his athleticism is a vital piece that makes Seton Hall tick.

16. Max Strus - DePaul

If you talk to Strus, he’ll tell you he’s so much more than a shooter. He’ll say he wants to be the one to carry the burden on a DePaul team in need of scoring talent. The Division II transfer has made an immediate star turn in the Big East, where he averages 18.2 points per game and has a 57.7 true shooting percentage on a 24.4 usage. So, he takes a lot of shots and is already successful in his first season against Division I competition. And he’s done it throughout a solid nonconference schedule and the Big East grind.

17. Marcus Derrickson - Georgetown

An athletic four willing to post up and crash the glass, Derrickson sets the table for Jessie Govan’s success. He’s in the top ten in the Big East in offensive and defensive rating, and Derrickson is one of the conference’s best rebounders as well. That grunt work, as well as his developing three-point shot (44.4 percent on 3.1 attempts per game) makes him irreplaceable for Georgetown. Most impressively, the 6-foot-7, 250 pound bruiser shoots 90.1 percent from the free throw line– second in the conference– and is in the top ten in free throw attempt rate as well. He’s a grinder with a soft side.

18. Myles Powell - Seton Hall

The Pirates wouldn’t be a top fifteen team this season without Myles Powell’s perimeter shooting. His range stands out next to his teammates, especially Delgado, who all try to bludgeon opponents in the paint. Powell gets 14.2 points per game and shoots 41.3 percent from three, nearly 8 percent better than a season ago, as a result of his seemingly improved form and footwork. Aside from his scoring, Powell doesn’t make much of an impact as he dishes 2.6 assists per game and commits 2.1 turnovers per game, and he averages just 2.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals, as well.

19. Andrew Rowsey - Marquette

Over the course of the season, Rowsey has taken control over a lot of Marquette’s point guard duties from Howard. He’s one of the grittier guards in the conference. At 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, he’s as good as anyone in the conference as a pick-and-roll ball handler as he squirms around defenders. Sometimes, he’ll shake one off with a ball fake and pull up for three, no matter how far away he is from the basket. His range is his most impressive quality and his physicality is his second. But his defensive prowess is further down the list, something he shares in common with Howard on a defense that gives up 77 points per game.

20. Desi Rodriguez - Seton Hall

Rodriguez is impressively the leading scorer for Seton Hall, a team with a myriad of offensive weapons. The lefty plays some small forward and some power forward, and his quick bursts combined with his tenacious finishing ability make him so difficult to guard. Against a smaller defender, Rodriguez will power to the rim and, if he misses his first attempt, he’ll often collect the rebound and try again. Against a bigger defender, Rodriguez is able to create space and pull up from the three- point line, where he shoots 37.2 percent. But the senior struggles when he holds onto the ball for a while, and he’s not a willing passer as well. His game is more explosive than refined.

21. JP Macura - Xavier

A comfortable ball handler and sharpshooter, Macura continues to aggravate opponents with his offensive prowess and intense demeanor. He’s dynamic in transition, where he can either finish an explosive dunk or sink a three-point shot from well beyond the line. He lacks a strong build, which makes him an unideal matchup against tough perimeter threats, but he’s able to make up for his lack of innate defensive ability with his grinding personality which actually throws off the opponent. His shooting statistics aren’t quite efficient (46 percent from the field, 34.8 percent from three), but his fearlessness in clutch situations benefits Xavier, nonetheless.

22. Martin Krampelj - Creighton

(Note: Krampelj tore his left ACL on January 17 and will miss the rest of the 2017-18 season]

Having a breakout season in his junior year, Krampelj has established himself as an athletic four with good shooting touch who’s also able to play at the five for the Blue Jays. After playing just 52 total minutes in conference play last season, Krampelj is averaging 12.3 points and 6 rebounds with a 67.4 field goal percentage. He leads the Big East in true shooting and effective field goal percentage, and Krampelj is its third best rebounder as well, measured by total rebound percentage. Creighton’s best lineups feature him at center, where he is able to space the floor and find open teammates while muscling against the Big East’s tough interior players on the other end.

23. Kyron Cartwright - Providence

As Cartwright goes, Providence goes. He averages just 10.7 points per game, but as clichés go, he’s the game manager. He’s led the Big East in assists in back-to-back seasons, and he dishes over six per game as a senior. Every season, his true shooting and effective field goal percentage field goal percentage has increased, yet his shots per game have actually gone down this year. He’s not consistent enough offensively, and late in games and late in the shot clock, it’s usually a step-back three for Cartwright. The Friars won by single digits against Belmont, Rider, Brown and Washington, something Cartwright’s lack of inconsistent assertiveness certainly played a role in.

24. Shamorie Ponds - St. John’s

Forced to step up into a bigger role with Marcus LoVett sidelined, Ponds has been the sparkplug for an otherwise struggling St. John’s offense, scoring 20.1 points per game. He’s not at all a three-point shooter, shooting a terrifying 18.5 percent on six threes per game, but he shoots 50 percent from inside the line and has a wide variety of spin moves and creative finishes to use to find his own basket. He struggles guarding players in his ilk, though. Against Villanova, he toggled between all of the Wildcats perimeter options and had difficulty keeping them in front. Despite being 10th in the NCAA in steals, his instincts defensively are not as sharp as some of the other point guards in the Big East.

25. Kerem Kanter - Xavier

The senior transfer has only started three games for the Musketeers and plays just 15.6 minutes per game, but he might be the most dangerous pure power forward on the offensive end in the Big East. Kanter is elite with his post-ups and shoots a serviceable 34.5 percent from three for a player with his size and strength. The inside-outside combination makes him so difficult to defend, and Xavier keeps looking at him for baskets when both Macura and Bluiett are struggling. His inconsistent motor on the defensive end is Mack’s reason for playing him sporadically, but Kanter has the physical tools to compete against a wider variety of front-court players than he is given credit for.

26. Tariq Owens - St. John’s

An elite level shot blocker (fourth the NCAA with 3.6 per game), the 6-foot-10 headband wearer expresses sharp instincts on both sides of the ball. The Tennessee transfer finds success at the rim and on the glass, with nearly nine rebounds per forty minutes, but foul trouble is a consistent problem for him. He averages 2.8 fouls in just 27.4 minutes (which would prorate to four over the entire game), and Chris Mullin is more than willing to take him out of an up-tempo matchup. While he is a frequent recipient of Ponds’ lobs, he rarely creates his own offense.

27. Sam Hauser - Marquette

Coming off a thirty-point performance, Hauser has found a place for himself in the Marquette offense dominated by Howard and Rowsey. He’s the group’s best passer and a prime pick-and-roll partner in the up-tempo offense. He’s accurate passing from the high post and even more so from three, where he shoots 49.2 percent on over six threes per game. He’s listed as a guard, despite his 6-foot-7 frame, but is more capable than most perimeter players in the post. The sophomore will eventually have to upgrade a position to take advantage of his positional strengths but for now is an effective running mate in Marquette’s offense.

28. Tyler Wideman - Butler

Wideman’s impact transcends the box score. Despite having a modest 9.6 points and 4.6 rebounds, he’s the glue that holds Butler’s defense together. The 6-foot-8 forward is conference’s best counter to bigs like Angel Delgado and Jessie Govan, providing a physical presence while being able to defend the pick-and-roll effectively. It’s nearly impossible to back him down in the post, and guards constantly struggle breaking by him in space. That combination alone makes him a valuable piece worth taking a chance on.