Deonte Burton, Marquette: Burton is a big-time athlete with a build of a football player. He’s a mismatch and unique scorer offensively since he can plow through smaller defenders or attack bigger opponents off the bounce. Although he isn’t a threat from behind the arc, he can hit from mid-range or attack the rim effectively. The issue is that he’s 6-foot-4 and will likely need to play shooting guard at the next level. With the lack of size on Marquette’s roster, he could potentially see time at power forward this season. Nevertheless, Burton had a productive freshman season and could have a breakout sophomore year ahead. He averaged 6.9 points in 12.6 minutes per game last year, but scouts will need to project how he fits on a future roster.
Isaac Copeland, Georgetown: The five-star freshman is a lengthy 6-foot-9 power forward that can stretch the floor. He’s an athletic freak that can finish well above the rim and over defenders. Copeland – like most freshmen – will need to spend some time in the weight room, but should be an NBA prospect down the road.
Tyler Harris, Providence: A 6-foot-9 southpaw that can stretch the floor, Harris had a productive sophomore season and could have an even bigger year ahead. Harris averaged 11.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game last year, but can look to improve his efficiency as he shot 43.3% from the field and 32.2% from deep. He’s decent attacking off the dribble, but builds most of his offense around his jumper. Defensively, he’ll need to get quicker if Harris hopes to defend small forwards. He’s the younger brother of Tobias Harris.
Josh Hart, Villanova: Hart is expected to join the starting lineup after a solid freshman season off the bench. He averaged 7.8 points and 4.4 rebounds in 21.4 minutes per game while shooting 50% from the field. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard has good size for the position and plays hard on both ends of the floor. He’ll need to improve his consistency on his three-point jump shot, as he was 31.3% from deep last season, but did have a five-game stretch where he was 11-for-18 from three. He has a high release point on his jumper, but there’s a slight hitch that can cause some inconsistency. Hart could blossom into an NBA prospect with a bigger role this season.
Darrun Hilliard, Villanova: An experienced senior, Hilliard has continually grown with each season and with another spike in production, the 6-foot-6 wing will see his stock rise. He averaged 14.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game last year while shooting 48.6% from the field and 41.4% from three-point range. The numbers are fairly consistent with who Hilliard is as a player – a productive and efficient glue guy. He has the size and overall scoring ability that should allow him to play either shooting guard or small forward while he can defend multiple positions. Hilliard may not have a ton of upside, but he’s an experienced and proven player who will look for another productive season at Villanova.
Rysheed Jordan, St. John’s: A former five-star recruit, Jordan enters his sophomore season with the expectation of growing into his potential. He’s a 6-foot-4 point guard with a lengthy but strong build. Jordan is a great athlete that uses his quickness and bounce to get out into transition and finish at the rim or find a teammate for the score. He can create for himself or others since he can beat defenders off the dribble. This season, he’ll need to play at a better pace and work on his jump shot, as Jordan committed 2.2 turnovers per game last season and shot just 27.9% from three-point range. He has a major ceiling, but will need to make strides in consistency this year.
Chris Obekpa, St. John’s: Obekpa is an elite shot blocker due to his size and athleticism. The junior stands 6-foot-10 with a long wingspan and used his physical tools to block 2.9 shots in just over 20 minutes per game last season. He is a quality defender that can even step out to the perimeter and defend pick-and-rolls. Obekpa is a great help defender, but could add some strength to defend the low post. He’ll make his biggest contributions on the defensive end, but will need to give enough offensively to stay on the floor at the next level.
Jalen Reynolds, Xavier: Reynolds has had a slow start to his collegiate career, but this could be a breakout season for the sophomore. He redshirted his first year due to academic issues and averaged just 3.8 points per game last season, but with a bigger role, Reynolds is expected to grow into his potential. Considered a four-star prospect out of Brewster Academy, Reynolds is an athletic specimen with a lengthy wingspan. At 6-foot-9, he’s slightly undersized as a power forward, but there’s enough upside to keep Reynolds on NBA radars. He’ll need to add some muscle and take command of a bigger role this season to earn an opportunity at the next level.
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown: The Preseason Big East Player of the Year, Smith-Rivera will hold some major responsibilities this season. He is coming off a productive sophomore year in which he averaged 17.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.7 points per game while shooting 44.5% from the field and 39.3% from behind the arc. Smith-Rivera is a quality shooter that can score in the pick-and-roll and his jumper has plenty of range. The issue comes in his physical measurements. He’s more of a shooting guard, but at 6-foot-3, he lacks the size and quickness to defend the position. As a result, he’ll be seen as a combo guard without a distinct position. Smith-Rivera has been an extremely productive college player, but it will be interesting to see him against NBA caliber athletes this year.
Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall: Whitehead will see a major role immediately at Seton Hall. The McDonald’s All-American is a quality scorer that can pull-up from anywhere on the floor. He’s at his best in transition as he can attack the basket and is a crafty finisher at the hoop. He can play either guard spot but at 6-foot-4 would project best as a point guard. As the top incoming freshman in the Big East, it will be interesting to see how Whitehead performs at the collegiate level.
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