Friar Basketball

“20 in 60”: #14 Where are the Big East Superstars?


“You always want to swing and try to get a pro.  How many Final Four teams, National Championship teams have not had multiple pros?”

– Ed Cooley in an interview with Friarbasketball this past May

If there was ever a year for a sleeper team to make a run in the Big East this one might be it.  Pages upon pages will be written before and during the 2012-13 season about advanced statistics or coaching acumen, but at the end of the day talent typically trumps all, and when looking around the Big East for the upcoming season it’s easy to ask where the 2013 NBA first rounders are.

Surely, NBA prospects will emerge from the Big East this season, with players like Michael Carter-Williams at Syracuse and Louisville’s Wayne Blackshear ready to assume more responsibility as they move up the depth chart, but heading into the season the only seemingly surefire first round picks in 2013 look to be Georgetown’s Otto Porter and Pittsburgh’s Steven Adams – and that’s assuming that either will declare for the draft next spring (Porter is a sophomore to be, Adams a freshman).

The rest of the projected NBA types in the Big East this season are kids who have either played complimentary roles to this point in their college careers, or incoming freshmen.  In other words, young men who have yet to prove they can lead a top flight Big East team.

Expect most All Big East preseason teams to be headed up by the likes of Notre Dame’s Jack Cooley, DePaul’s Cleveland Melvin, Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick and Seton Hall’s Fuquan Edwin – all very good college players, but not the lottery-level talent that the preseason first teams have featured in recent seasons.

The Big East saw four of its players go in the top 15 picks in the 2012 NBA Draft.  A repeat in 2013 would be surprising.

Here’s a look at potential draft picks in 2013 (excluding Providence players, who we’ll touch on more in other parts of this series):

The lottery pick: Porter may sneak his way into certain mock drafts, and a great sophomore year may make that a reality, but at this point it’s Adams who enters the Big East season as the most highly regarded professional prospect.  At 6’10, few players possess his skill set.  Adams is a terrific passer for a young big man, an above average rebounder, can step out and hit 17 footers consistently, finishes with authority and he’s certainly not afraid to mix it up.  He was absolutely terrific in his American debut against Nerlens Noel and Georges Niang – two days after he touched down in the US.  For my money he was the best player in the gym.

The question?  Jamie Dixon has not traditionally featured freshmen, but Adams may be the most talented player that Dixon has landed in his tenure at Pitt, and coming off of a down season he won’t hesitate to make the most of Adams’ array of talents.

First round certainty: Porter.  There were times a year ago when Porter was the Hoyas’ best player and in his second season on campus he may be ready to make a run for conference player of the year.  Neither Porter or Adams had much notoriety early in their high school careers, but both are polished products with complete games.

At 6’9, Porter projects as a small forward in the NBA, and his stock will be helped if he can improve upon a poor three point shooting percentage (22%) and if he can get to the free throw line more frequently (2.5 attempts per game).

Borderline first rounders: Injury jobbed Blackshear of a majority of his freshman season at Louisville, but the rising sophomore has all the tools NBA scouts look for: he’s a good athlete, with a tremendous build and a game that has room to grow.  He very well could turn into the best wing in the Big East this season.

Blackshear’s teammate, Chane Behanan is undersized for an NBA four (6’6), but is a physical beast who could convince scouts he deserves first round consideration, especially if he can play a big role on a Final Four team in Louisville.  It’s amazing what an NCAA Tournament run will do for a player’s stock.

Carter-Williams is probably another year away from entering his name into the NBA Draft (he may be better off working on his physique for the full four years), especially on a team as deep as Syracuse, but he’s a 6’5 combo guard who can handle the ball and shoots tremendously well from three point range.  Jim Boeheim eased him in a season ago, but he’ll be one of the most talented guards in the conference this season.

Potential 2nd rounders: Kilpatrick should step into a bigger role this year in Cincinnati.  He’s a more skilled scorer than many Big East followers realize (and a kid Providence could have landed out of Notre Dame Prep years ago had they pushed harder), but he’ll need a big year to convince scouts to add a second round shooting guard.

Rick Pitino has a third potential 2012 draftee in Gorgui Dieng, who somewhat quietly grabbed nearly 10 rebounds while blocking over three shots per game last season.  Those numbers and a 7’6 wingspan will get you drafted.

Cleveland Melvin is more likely a four year player at DePaul (he’ll be entering his junior season), but the double double machine could be tempted to enter his name in the draft if his numbers continue to rise.

More likely 2014 prospects: Rakeem Christmas (Syracuse), Trey Zeigler (Pittsburgh), DaJuan Coleman (Syracuse), Omar Calhoun (Connecticut).


Emaill Kevin at

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