Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thoughts on Jamie Dixon's Extension

By Chris Dokish

I've had a few people email me already, talking about how Pitt will be paying Jamie Dixon between 2.2 and 2.3 million dollars, and asking me if I am amazed that Pitt paid that much. I think people are misunderstanding when Dixon is getting that money. It's unheard of that Dixon would get a raise from 1.6 million to 2.3 million in one shot. That money, if that report is accurate, is what Dixon will get in the extended years, which will be seven or eight years down the road. By that time, if Dixon is still here, he will be due much more than that since by then that would not be a lot of money. In other words, the salary numbers are not nearly as exorbitant as it sounds. But there is good news, and that's for at least the tenth time now, Dixon has told another school that he was not interested in leaving Pitt, and Oregon was at least the third school that I know of that would have offered Dixon more than he gets at Pitt. He may have talked to Oregon, in fact I could almost guarantee it, but he would be crazy not to. A coach would be foolish not to listen because you never know when some really stupid money gets thrown at you.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Progression and Regression

By Chris Dokish

Here is a look at how each individual player performed over the last twenty games of the season, split into two ten game sections, and only including top competition. That means the twenty games includes all 18 Big East conference games, as well as their first round Big East tournament loss and their NCAA tournament loss to Xavier. Excluded were wins against Robert Morris and Oakland because, while both are very good teams, they are not at the level of Big East competition. In the first ten games, the Panthers had a 6-4 record, while in the second ten games, the Panthers had a 7-3 record.

Ashton Gibbs

First 10:

37.4 minutes, 17.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.1 apg, 0.9 spg, 40.7% FG, 42.3% 3FG, 91.4% FT, 1.2 TO, 1.0 fouls

Last 10:

34.2 minutes, 14.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.6 spg, 40.0% FG, 42.6% 3FG, 82.1% FT, 1.2 TO, 1.6 fouls

Conclusion: Some big drops in every category, except steals and FG%, neither of which were good in the first place. The excellent three point shooting was amazingly consistent however.

Brad Wanamaker

First 10:

32.6 minutes, 11.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 4.6 apg, 1.0 spg, 36.3% FG, 31.3% 3FG,73.6% FT, 2.3 TO, 3.0 fouls

Last 10:

32.7 minutes, 12.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 6.0 apg, 1.2 spg, 46.7% FG, 40% 3FG, 75.0% FT, 2.8 TO, 2.6 fouls

Conclusion: The amount of minutes are virtually the same, the rebounds are down, but everything else is up, sometimes way up. The assist total in the last ten games are the level of an All-American point guard, so it's amazing that it's coming from a small forward. Turnovers are still very high, however, and even increased.

Gilbert Brown

First 10:

24.6 minutes, 10.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.4 apg, 0.5 spg, 57.4% FG, 42.1% 3FG, 68.4% FT, 1.8 TO, 2.6 fouls

Last 10:

23.7 minutes, 11.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.6 spg, 46.2% FG, 36.7% 3FG, 75.6% FT, 1.3 TO, 2.3 fouls

Conclusion: The points went up some and the FT shooting was better. The FG% and three point FG% dropped a lot, but it's still in the good range. Clearly Brown's shooting percentage in the first ten games was too exorbitant to sustain. However, for a 6'6" athletic forward who averages over 20 minutes a game, the rebounds, assists, and steals totals were below average throughout the season.

Jermaine Dixon

First 10 (only played in 9):

32.1 minutes, 11.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.3 spg, 36.6% FG, 23.3% 3FG, 71.9% FT, 1.1 TO, 2.0 fouls

Last 10:

29.2 minutes, 10.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.1 spg, 40.0% FG, 15.4% 3FG, 65.2% FT, 1.6 TO, 2.5 fouls

Conclusion: It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this one out. Dixon's shooting was bad, but you may have to invent a new word to describe how truly awful his three point shooting was.

Nasir Robinson

First 10:

22.7 minutes, 6.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.4 apg, 0.2 spg, 49.1% FG, 56.3% FT, 1.3 TO, 2.7 fouls

22.3 minutes, 5.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.2 spg, 46.0% FG, 58.3% FT, 0.6 TO, 2.2 fouls

Conclusion: Clearly it wasn't the best season for Robinson. He has a lot of heart, but he's a scrapper who may lack enough skills to ever really do it successfully.

Gary McGhee

First 10:

24.2 minutes, 6.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 0.6 apg, 0.1 spg, 1.2 bpg, 56.0% FG, 57.1% FT, 0.7 TO, 2.6 fouls

Last 10:

26.6 minutes, 5.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 0.6 apg, 0.4 spg, 2.0 bpg, 52.3% FG, 61.9% FT, 1.1 TO, 1.9 fouls

Conclusion: McGhee was awful in Pitt's last two losses of the season, not scoring in either game, but that overshadows the fact that he improved his rebounding and blocked shots to an all-conference level. The problem is, the rest of his game is nowhere near as close.

Dante Taylor

First 10:

12.9 minutes, 3.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.6 bpg, 64.7% FG, 57.1% FT, 1.1 TO, 1.5 fouls

Last 10:

12.0 minutes, 4.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.4 bpg, 66.7% FG, 40.0% FT, 0.1 TO, 2.1 fouls

Conclusion: Obviously not a great year for the freshman, but he was a freshman so all is not lost.

Travon Woodall

First 10:

13.4 minutes, 2.3 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 1.5 apg, 0.2 spg, 38.1% FG, 20.0% 3FG, 71.4% FT, 1.4 TO, 1.5 fouls

Last 10:

19.1 minutes, 5.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.1 apg, 0.6 spg, 43.9% FG, 25.0% 3FG, 71.4% FT, 0.8 TO, 2.2 fouls

Conclusion: Obviously, Woodall came around some in the last ten games, but he must improve his three point shooting an awful lot if he wants to be the starting point guard next season.

Overall Conclusion:

It's interesting that only one player made a significant jump at the end of the season and that was Wanamaker. Woodall progressed some, but still has a significant weakness in his three point shooting, plus he should have more steals even in the amount of minutes he has, and he fouls way too much. In what will probably surprise many, McGhee also improved, especially in his rebounding and shot blocking. However his lack of an offensive game will probably prevent him from taking his game much further. Wanamaker, on the other hand, has clearly moved his play to a higher level, though his turnovers are still a problem.

On the downside, Gibbs sharply declined at the end of the season perhaps proving that he would be more efficient if he was not the focus of the team. It's important to not, however, that he was still good at the end, just not as good as he was before. Dixon did not have a bad season, except for his three point shooting, but it was awful, especially for a shooting guard, that it counteracted a lot of the good things he did.

Brown improved some over the season, but his lack of rebounding, assists, and steals makes one continue to wonder if he's more of an athlete than an actual basketball player. He still has one season to disprove that theory, however. Also, this statistic analysis does not show Brown's inconsistency, which is clearly one of the biggest weaknesses on the team.

Robinson, like McGhee may not be able to do too much more. Clearly, as a 6'4" forward with very limited shooting ability hurts his effectiveness, and while he is a great scrapper, there's only so much he's going to be able to do.

Lastly, Taylor did not have a good year. That's obvious, and while it may not show up statistically, I still think he will improve a good deal over his career, perhaps as early as next season.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Q&A for March 26 (Updated at bottom)

By Chris Dokish

Q: Maurice Walker was quoted yesterday as saying that Pitt now has a scholarship available. How did that happen and what does this mean?

A: As of now, I don't think it's as dramatic as it sounds. But, like I said, that's as of now. If I get info stating otherwise, I'll let people know, but as of now, the article was making it sound like somebody is leaving Pitt and Walker is coming in.

I look at it this in various ways. One, Walker may have misunderstood what the Pitt coach told him. That's definitely possible. Look at how many kids claim offers that they don't have. Usually they're not lying. They honestly believe they have an offer when in reality it was a coach using carefully worded language to keep the kid thinking they are interested, until the time comes when the team really has to make a decision on him.

In this case, that means that the Pitt coach may have led Walker to believe there would be opening. Why do that? Because, let's say for example, that Dwight Miller decides to transfer on his own. That leaves the spot open for J.J. Moore, right? Well, Moore is far from a sure thing as far as eligibility so he may not be there next year. But you won't know this until maybe two months or so down the road. But, assuming Moore is not eligible, and Miller has already left, suddenly you have a spot open. Hello, Mr. Walker.

Now, obviously this is not easy because Pitt would have to try to get Walker to hold off a month or two until they know for sure that Miller is gone and Moore is ineligible. But they don't lose anything by trying it.

The alternative theory may be too risky. And that's that they expect Miller to leave and sign Walker immediately. In this theory, Moore again has no scholarship available to him, and yet another player has to leave if he were to become eligible. Admittedly, it's probably less than a 50% that Moore will be eligible, but it's definitely not impossible that he does make it. And as far as I know, nobody is looking to leave, including Gilbert Brown (except for the obvious one that must leave if Moore is eligible). That's what I was told by a coach about two weeks ago. The only way this theory could work is if Moore is doing so badly in school that Pitt has given up on him being eligible this season, and I have not heard that either.

And, by the way, I'm not saying Miller is going to transfer. The fact that he has played little in his first two seasons would make him a good guess. On the other hand, he has already redshirted so unless he plans on going to a smaller classification, he may not want to leave. That doesn't mean he still won't leave. It just makes things much more difficult.

I guess what I'm saying in all of this is that it could go many ways and right now we just have to wait and see which way it goes because I have no idea what they are planning right now. The last I heard, Walker was probably not an option because there was no room. Then last night Walker confused everybody with his statement.

Q: You sparked some controversy this week by saying the Panthers won't improve much next season. Do you really feel that way?

A: I'm glad to know I got people riled up, and I didn't know that, but, yes, that's what I said and that's what I meant to say. But you make it sound like I said it about a poor team. They won 25 games this year. Next year, I said I would guess 28 wins and a Sweet 16. That's an amazing season. Could they make it to a Final Four? Of course. Any team that wins 28 games could go to the Final Four. But it's very unlikely, and I think anybody who thinks Pitt is destined for a Final Four next season doesn't understand what it takes to get there. Pitt has two bonafide college stars last season, not to mention one of the better point guards in the nation, and they didn't even get to the Final Four. That's how hard it is.

I wrote something a few months ago to show what it takes to get to the Final Four, and it was something like five top 50 players on average. You could have two or three also, but you need a superstar in there, too. Now this year, either Kansas State or Butler will be in the Final Four and neither have many top 50 prospects. Kansas State has two and Butler has none. But amazingly nobody had a lot of top 50 prospects in that region. Kansas State could actually get to the Final Four without playing a single team in the top six conferences. Pitt has one top 50 player and no superstar so it may be just wishful thinking. And that's what fans do and that's great, but the problem is, if Pitt doesn't go to the Final Four next year, the fans will complain that they underachieved. In reality, they wouldn't have underachieved, it was the fans who overvalued them. My advice, be happy with what will probably be a team that could hover around the top 10 all season, and should go to the Sweet 16. And then you can be ecstatic if it gets better than that. But don't expect so much and you won't be disappointed. Be pleasantly surprised. No matter how you look at it, it's going to be a great year with maybe even better years to come.

Q: Do you really think none of the players will improve?

A: Now, I know I definitely didn't say that. I'm sure every one of them will improve. The question is, will they improve enough to be a Final Four contender? It seems unlikely. Ashton Gibbs averaged 15+ ppg this season. Does anybody see him scoring 20 ppg next season? I don't. Brown may go from 10 to 14. I could see that. But that still doesn't make him DeJuan Blair or Sam Young, and that's the type of talent you need. Pitt has nobody at that level. Not even close.

One thing I get a lot in emails is how much potential and depth Pitt will have next year. You don't know that. Who do we know for sure are good players? Gibbs, Brown, Brad Wanamaker, and I'll even give you Gary McGhee. Then who? Don't say Travon Woodall. He is not good yet. Yes, he has potential and yes he could be good next, maybe even very good, but then again he may not. The truth is, while he has shown flashes and is cat quick, he is not a sure thing. Same goes with Dante Taylor. I stand my prediction that Taylor will eventually average 14 ppg and 8 rpg, but it may not be this year. Nasir Robinson is never going to grow or shoot at a high level so I think it's safe to say he isn't going to suddenly be a star. I hear fans tell me how great Talib Zanna may be, but guess what? He couldn't even see time at the beginning of this season when they badly needed help. That doesn't mean he won't be good. In fact, I think he will be good. He's just not going to be a star next year. He's pretty raw from what they tell me. The freshman are all going to be good, too, but I think there's a decent chance that Cameron Wright will redshirt and Moore won't be eligible. That leaves Isiah Epps, but he's not going to be an all-conference player as a true freshman either.

Q: How do you think the freshman will fit in next year?

A: I just touched on this, but Wright is long and athletic, and he has a bright future, but I could see him getting redshirted with all of the perimeter players the Panthers will have next season. He's a little raw still and could use a year. Even if he doesn't get redshirted, I don't think you will see much of him next season. Moore, I think has the ability to be a star, and could see significant time perhaps, but again, there's the eligibility thing. As for Epps, you guys don't ask too much about him, but I'm telling you this kid is going to be a really good player. He won't be redshirted as some have suggested to me. He has NBA talent and is already a little older so a redshirt won't be in the cards. But that wouldn't matter anyway because he should be ready to contribute right away. I think you will see him playing the point a lot early in the season because they want to give him every opportunity to shine. I'm guessing that Woodall will actually start, but if he doesn't take the bull by the horns, Epps could carve out some time. The kid is very quick, very fast, has great passing skills, and when he wants to, he can shoot the lights out. Possible big time player.

Q: Do you think the Panthers have a good shot at Omar Calhoun?

A: A shot? Yes. But I wouldn't fall in love with him too much. He is a big time prospect and a straight A student. He's going to have all of the biggies coming after him so it would be Pitt's biggest coup in a very, very long time.

Q: Is there really any way you could see Jamie Dixon end up at DePaul or Oregon? And do you see him staying here for his entire career?

A: The DePaul thing was ridiculous so I'm not even going to comment on that one. Oregon would be a possibility if they offered A LOT of money and from what I understand, that won't happen. Arizona had a lot to offer Dixon, including more money, and he still didn't think too long about it.

As for will he ever leave, I think it's probable that he eventually will. It's not like the old days when a coach didn't have many options and just settled in at one spot. The coaches these days have great agents, and they have NBA options, and more money, and all of that. It's something that the old school coaches never had. They both share the love of a challenge, but present day coaches can actually act on it. Not that I'm saying Dixon will leave soon. It could be another ten years for all anybody knows. The fact that he hasn't broken through in the tournament has stopped the elite programs going after him, and if he ever does break through, then it may be harder to keep him. But that would be a good problem to have.

Q: Do you see Tom Herrion or Brandin Knight getting a head coaching job and not coming back next season? What about Knight to Robert Morris?

A: Herrion has his name bandied about after every season and I'm sure it will happen again. Hofstra could be one possibility. Knight is just 28 and has only been an assistant for two seasons so he isn't even close to being ready. That doesn't mean Robert Morris wouldn't try to get him, but it seems like a stretch. I could see Rice asking Knight to join him at Seton Hall should he get the job. Knight will probably eventually leave, even if it's just as an assistant, because it's good for your resume to work with different coaches. Seton Hall would be the prefect opportunity for him since he knows Rice and he knows New Jersey. I'm not saying that will happen, but it does make sense.

Q: Have you heard anything about Nkereuwem Okoro or Cleveland Melvin?

A: Way too early on Okoro. He's a '12 prospect that will get monitored over the summer. Melvin they would have taken for sure if they had room, but they don't. I know there were some articles with him talking about Pitt, but just because he's talking about Pitt, that doesn't mean Pitt is talking to him. And they're not.

UPDATE: After spending much of the day investigating the Walker situation, it appears that my theory was right. What I discovered is that Walker did misunderstand what was said by the Pitt coach but that the Pitt coaches would still love to add him if there is a transfer and if Moore is ineligible. However, I was also told by those close to the situation that Walker would probably not wait and will probably end up at Minnesota. However, Tubby Smith could easily move on and maybe Walker will find that it's worth it to wait for Pitt. But no matter how you look at it, there will not be more than one player leaving, and it won't be a major contributor.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Postseason Thoughts

By Chris Dokish

For the fourth time in Jamie Dixon's seven years as Pitt coach, the Panthers did not make it to the Sweet 16. For almost every other program in the country, a coach who goes seven for seven in getting into the tournament, with an Elite 8 and two Sweet 16s, would have their fans dancing in the streets. And just a decade ago, the same could be said for Pitt fans. But because of Jamie Dixon's ridiculously successful regular seasons, his relative lack of similar success in the postseason has many Pitt fans frustrated. Such is life in the highly competitive Big East.

Compare Dixon's seven seasons with the last seven seasons of Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, UConn's Jim Calhoun, and Louisville's Rick Pitino, Big East coaches who have won a National Championship (or two) before. In the seven seasons in question, Boeheim made two Sweet 16s, had two first round losses, and two NIT appearances. Pitino went to one NIT,lost in the first round twice, and the second round once. The difference is, he also has two Elite 8 appearances and a Final Four. For Calhoun, he didn't make the tournament twice, and lost both in the first and second round once. The difference is, the other three times were an Elite 8, a Final Four, and a National Championship. Even Villanova's Jay Wright, who has never won a National Championship, has had a better seven season stretch in the postseason. Wright has an NIT appearance, a first round loss, a second round loss, two Sweet 16s, an Elite 8, and a Final Four. Only Boeheim has not had a better run, but the Orange are looking like a Final Four team, at least, this season.

With the knowledge that the Panthers have the best Big East record in the conference in that time, it doesn't take a genius to see that this disconnect between regular season success and a perceived lack of postseason success would have people scratching their heads.

Truthfully, my theory that Pitt's lack of postseason success is because of a lack of great talent only partially makes sense. That explains losses to UCLA, Oklahoma State, and maybe Michigan State. It doesn't explain losses to Pacific and Bradley, who had less talent, and Villanova and Xavier, who had equal talent. Bottom line, Pitt is clearly underachieving in the postseason. So the question then becomes, can that disconnect change, and if so, when?

I know many fans are highly optimistic for next season at the moment because, quite frankly, it's a better alternative than to think the same thing will happen next season. However, I do see the same thing happening next season, but maybe not beyond that.

My prediction for next year's team is that they will be slightly more accomplished, though any talk of them being a power, or a Final Four contender, seems foolish. And before the optimists go ballistic, a slightly more accomplished team next year means something like 27 or 28 wins and a Sweet 16. Not too shabby, to say the least.

The problem is that the players with the highest ceilings will still not be ready yet, and the upperclassmen simply don't have high ceilings. Ashton Gibbs, a very good player, averaged 15.7 ppg by being mostly a jump shooter. It's not realistic that he will score much more than that. The same could be said for Brad Wanamaker, a good player who can score some, is a good rebounder, and a nice assist man. But he also has limitations that will prevent him from being a star. Is he going to suddenly score 16 ppg next season? Probably not, but even if he does, that doesn't make him an elite player who can carry the team on his back to greatness. Gilbert Brown? I think it's obvious that, while a good player, he also is not going to be that elite all-star caliber player. As for Gary McGhee, what you see is clearly what you get, whether you like it or not.

Players like Travon Woodall and Dante Taylor should improve, but they aren't the types to turn into stars next year either. Neither may even start. Redshirts Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna are going to be good, and should provide help, but stardom isn't in the cards for them next year either. The freshman are also going to be excellent, but don't expect it to happen as freshmen. There were nine freshman in the Big East this year that were consensus Top 50 prospects. Only one, Lance Stephenson, averaged in double figures, and he was a top 10 prospect that still had a lot of faults. Isaiah Epps, Cameron Wright, and J.J. Moore, if he's even eligible, will provide much needed athleticism and talent, but probably not in huge measures. Especially since they will all have veterans ahead of them.

In summary, Dixon has underachieved in the postseason, but an Elite 8 and two Sweet 16s in seven years is not bad for underachieving. Any fans who look at the totality of Dixon's postseason relative lack of success could understandably question him at that time of the year. But, this season was different. Should Pitt have beat Xavier? Perhaps. But on the other hand, I had sportswriters email me from all over the country when I picked Pitt to win 20 games, because they thought I was insane. Around the country, people look at this team and can't understand how they won as many as they did. Even the Big East coaches didn't see enough to pick them above ninth in the preseason poll. They had one all-conference player, no stars, no future NBA players, nobody on the All-Rookie Team, and just one top 50 prospect, and he was mostly a non-factor as a freshman. Yet Dixon, his staff, and these hardworking players showed amazing resiliency and toughness. This team scored 17 points against New Hampshire at one point, then came within one shot of going to the Sweet 16. New Hampshire!!

This program has a lot of excellent supporting parts. The problem is, there was no star. With DeJuan Blair on this team, suddenly Gibbs gets open, Wanamaker doesn't have to waste energy rebounding over his head, McGhee comes off the bench, etc. But without that star player, everybody was forced to play over their head. Much to their everlasting credit, they did do more than they should have been asked to for much of the season. But you can only stretch so much before you break.

The same will probably happen next season, though as many as five new players enter the mix. And it's those five that will be the center of this team in two years. If Moore is eligible next season, he has the ability to be a star as a sophomore. Epps and Wright will at least be good as sophs, and maybe even better. Gibbs and Robinson will be seniors, Richardson, Taylor, Woodall, Patterson, and Zanna will be juniors, and John Johnson will arrive as a freshman, along with one or two others yet to be named.

Bottom line, this year was a rebuilding year and almost ended in the Sweet 16. Next year should be better and a Sweet 16 is a good possibility. Not bad for a team with no stars. The good news is, the stars may be on the way. What then? Will Dixon finally break through with more talent throughout the roster than he's ever had? Well, if he doesn't two, three, four years down the road, then he may never. But at least we will know. Because for the first time, both the talent and depth will be there.

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Postseason awards

By Chris Dokish

I have been asked if I get to vote for any postseason awards, and if so, who did I vote for, and through the USBWA I do get to vote for All-American, as well as other awards. Here are my picks:

Player of the Year (Oscar Robertson Award): Evan Turner, Ohio State- The best all-around player in the country, in my opinion. As of now, he is currently averaging 19.5 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 5.8 apg, and 1.8 spg, all while also shooting a highly efficient 53.8% from the field. It's not often that you see somebody average both 9 rebounds and 6 assists a game, especially when you throw in nearly 20 points, too.

Coach of the Year (Hank Iba Award): Jim Boeheim, Syracuse- About a week ago I decided on Jamie Dixon, but I've since changed my mind. Boeheim has a team filled with a lot of role players yet still is the current No. 1 team in the country. If I had to vote for a top three, Dixon would be my second choice.

Freshman of the Year: John Wall, Kentucky- It doesn't take a genius on this one.

All-American (pick ten):

Evan Turner, Ohio State

Wesley Johnson, Syracuse- Another excellent all-around player and one of the best transfers in Big East history. Currently at 15.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.7 spg, 1.9 bpg, 37.9% from three, and 78.3% from the line.

Scottie Reynolds, Villanova- The probable Big East Player of the Year and one of the better guards in Big East history. Currently averaging 18.9 ppg, 3.4 apg, 1.6 spg, 41.6% from three, and 83.1% from the line.

John Wall, Kentucky- One of the better freshman in college history and the future No.1 pick in the NBA draft. Averaging 17.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 6.2 apg, and 1.9 bpg.

DeMarco Cousins, Kentucky- Another freshman who some think was better this season than his teammate, Wall. Averaging 15.9 ppg, 10.1 rpg, and 1.8 bpg. And all of that was in just 23 minutes a game.

Sherron Collins, Kansas- Physical and emotional leader of the team that's the favorite to win it all. Averaging 15.4 ppg, 4.3 apg, 36.8% from three, and 85.1% from the line.

Jon Scheyer, Duke- Co-favorite to win ACC Player of the Year because of his excellent all-around skills. Averaging 18.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.2 apg, 1.7 spg, 40.4% from three, and 88.3% from the line.

James Alexander, Oklahoma State- The current favorite to win Big 12 Player of the Year, he is fourth in the nation in scoring at 22.8 ppg, while also adding 6.0 rpg, 1.3 spg, 36.2% from three, and 80.9% from the line.

Devan Downey, South Carolina- One of the best little known players in the country, the Cincinnati transfer single handedly beat Kentucky with 30 points earlier in the season, then came back and scored 26 more in Lexington. He is the fifth best scorer in the country at 22.5 ppg, while also averaging 3.2 rpg, 3.6 apg, and 2.8 spg (sixth in the nation), while making 83.1% from the line.

Jimmer Fredette, Brigham Young- One of the best pure shooters in the country, he became well known after going off for 49 points at Arizona. On the season, he is averaging 20.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.7 apg, and 1.2 spg. Proof of his great shooting can be seen in his 47.8% from three and 88.2% from the line.

I also vote for regional awards, in my case players that play in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Washington DC, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Top player in the region: Reynolds, Villanova

Top coach in the region: Boeheim, Syracuse

All-District (10 players):

Scottie Reynolds, Villanova
Wesley Johnson, Syracuse
Greg Monroe, Georgetown
Austin Freeman, Georgetown
Da'Sean Butler, West Virginia
Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall
Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh
Andy Rautins, Syracuse
Ryan Wittman, Cornell
Charles Jenkins, Hofstra

While I'm here, I may as well also predict how I think the Big East awards will go, not necessarily how I would vote. This is always a crap shoot, of course, because you never know actually what people are thinking.

Player of the Year- Scottie Reynolds, Villanova

Coach of the Year- Jim Boeheim, Syracuse

Rookie of the Year- Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati

Defensive Player of the Year- Hamady Ndiaye, Rutgers

Most Improved Player- Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame

Sixth Man Award- Kris Joseph, Syracuse

Scholar Athlete Award- Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame

First Team (not including Reynolds):

Wesley Johnson, Syracuse
Greg Monroe, Georgetown
Da'Sean Butler, West Virginia
Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
Dominique Jones, South Florida

Second Team:

Austin Freeman, Georgetown
Lazar Hayward, Marquette
Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall
Jerome Dyson, UConn
Andy Rautins, Syracuse (don't be surprised if he's First Team)

Third Team:

Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh
Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame
Kemba Walker, UConn
Jamine Peterson, Providence
Samardo Samuels, Louisville

All-Rookie Team:

Dane Miller, Rutgers
Brandon Triche, Syracuse
Maalik Wayns, Villanova
Vincent Council, Providence
Alex Oriakhi, UConn

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