When you look at potential players that could be x-factors for Big East Conference teams this year, look no further than in the frontcourt.
With established point guards (Kris Dunn, Ryan Arcidiacono and Billy Garrett Jr.) and wings (D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Kellen Dunham) overflowing in the conference, it is in the frontcourt where many team’s success may be determined this season. Outside of the rock-steady Daniel Ocehfu at Villanova, most teams in the Big East need its big men to step up and further their games.
After all, Ochefu is basically the only returning Big East big man that earned any postseason awards in the Big East, as he was named to the honorable mention list. With the Big East also losing seven of its top-10 rebounders, some big men will have to increase their production if their teams are to have successful seasons.
Here are just a select few big men in the Big East that will have the spotlight on them this coming season.
Marquette: Henry Ellenson, Luke Fischer "should frustrate the Big East" – Myron Medcalf; team set to turn things… http://t.co/GZMf2TsS6z
— KJ Foster (@jcfoster2) September 17, 2015
Luke Fischer, Marquette
By no means was Fischer’s first season with Marquette a disappointment. Quite the contrary, as he averaged pretty solid numbers (11 points and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting a solid .609 percent from the floor) across the board. With freshman stud Henry Ellenson as a sidekick, Fischer will see less double-teams in the post and he should thrive with that security down low. Expect him to flourish in his junior season.
Tommy Hamilton and Rashaun Stimage DePaul
DePaul has a budding frontcourt that could do some nice things if new/ex-coach Dave Leitao can get the most out of Hamilton and Stimage.
Hamilton is coming off a 2014-15 season in which he averaged 10 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. If Leitao can get him to stay in the post and play better defense, Hamilton could be in line for a breakout season. Fore sure, the talent is there with Hamilton. It’s all about clearing mental hurdles for Hamilton.
Meanwhile, Stimage is already ahead of the curve on defense, as that’s one of his main attributes. For a player who missed the first 15 games last season with a foot issue, optimum health is the key for Stimage to show his true colors. You have not seen the best of this athletic dynamo.
James Farr and Jalen Reynolds, Xavier
Reynolds seems primed to be an absolute stud this season. He is coming off a sophomore season in which he averaged 9.9 points and 6.1 rebounds on .618 shooting from the field. Reynolds is a menace in the post and on the boards. The sky is the limit for Reynolds this season.
With Matt Stainbrook departing the program, Farr will get a chance to make more of a contribution in his senior year. Farr averaged 4.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in 15.6 minutes per game last season, and with his minutes set to rise this season, he can become a dependable force in the paint. He should be a nice role player for head coach Chris Mack.
Andrew Chrabascz, Butler
Butler will no doubt be defined by its backcourt of Kellen Dunham, Roosevelt Jones and N.C. State transfer Tyler Lewis, but the Bulldogs will need Chrabascz to continue his development if its to reach new heights this season. Chrabascz had a fine sophomore season in which he averaged 11.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game while shooting .446 percent from the field. With Big East’s leading rebounder Kamerom Woods having used up his eligibility, it would be great for head coach Chris Holtmann to get better rebounding numbers from Chrabascz this season.
Angel Delgado, Seton Hall
Delgado doesn’t have to step up all that much, as he is coming an excellent freshman campaign where he was named Big East Rookie of the Year after averaging 9.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. With a lot of senior leadership gone from last year’s Pirates roster, it would be nice if Delgado can expand his game and take on more of a leadership role. The talent and drive is there. It’s simply about putting it all together for Delgado.
Angel Delgado tallied double-doubles in seven of Seton Hall's 19 Big East games last season. Averaged 9.3 PPG & 9.8 RPG as a freshman. #shbb
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) September 23, 2015
Ben Bentil, Providence
I already detailed how big of a factor Bentil will have to be for the Friars this season in this column. But to recap, with Bentil basically being the only legitimate big man with experience on the Friars’ roster, his production this season is vital. How Bentil does, will ultimately determine if Providence sinks or swims this season. Dunn needs some help.
The Big East is also welcoming in some very talented big men led by the aforementioned Ellenson. But it’s not just him. Georgetown has a pair of exciting freshmen big men in Marcus Derrickson and Jessie Govan, and they should be ready to make an instant impact in D.C.
In all, the Big East has a few good (big) men. It just needs more to step forward and contribute.