Who to Watch Wednesday: Men's Basketball Player of the Year Candidates

 

Last year, Marquette's Jae Crowder won a vote of the league's coaches to be named BIG EAST Men's Basketball Player of the Year. Crowder was in his second season after transferring in from Howard County Junior College, where he led his team to a national title while taking home NJCAA Player of the Year Awards.

 

While Crowder's success in 2011-12 was not a shock - he did post 11.8 points and 6.8 boards a game in 2010-11 - he was not named to the preseason all-conference first or second teams. In fact, the BIG EAST hasn't seen anyone win preseason and postseason Player of the Year since Connecticut's Emeka Okafor in 2003-04.

 

#BEMediaDay Goes Live!

This year, for the very first time, BIGEAST.org will stream a live show from BIG EAST Men's Basketball Media Day on October 17. Hosted by IMG Sports and NBC Sports Radio personality John Rooke and former Villanova star John Celestand, the show will feature live interviews with BIG EAST players and coaches.

For more information, visit Media Day Central.

Those preseason all-conference and player of the year awards will not be given out until BIG EAST Media Day on October 17, it is never too early to look ahead at some of the candidates.

 

The highest profile candidate may be Louisville point guard Peyton Siva who won the Dave Gavitt Trophy as the Most Outstanding Player at the BIG EAST Championship last year and led the Cardinals to the Final Four. His teammate, center Gorgui Dieng averaged 9.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.2 points and could also contend.

 

Sharpshooter Sean Kilpatrick of Cincinnati made the All-BIG EAST Second Team last year after averaging 14.3 ppg and a league high 92 threes.

 

Talented Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier will take the reins as a scorer and distributor for Connecticut this year. Napier was second on the team in scoring last season at 13.0 ppg and contributed 5.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game.

 

DePaul's Cleveland Melvin is the conference's leading returning scorer. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 17.5 points and 7.4 rebounds while garnering All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention recognition.

 

Georgetown's Otto Porter made a strong contribution to the Hoyas in his freshman year last season. The forward averaged 6.8 rebounds and 9.7 points while playing nearly 30 minutes per game.

 

Notre Dame senior Jack Cooley was voted Most Improved Player in the conference last year after averaging 12.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.

 

Pittsburgh senior point guard Tray Woodall missed some time last year to injury, but averaged 11.7 points and 6.1 assists per game. The Panthers were a markedly better team when Woodall was healthy and suffered through a seven-game losing streak when he was out with injury.

 

Vincent Council of Providence emerged as an elite performer last year, averaging a  team-leading 15.9 points and 7.5 assists (good for tops in the BIG EAST).

 

St. John's guard D'Angelo Harrison burst on to the scene as a freshman last year and led all rookie scorers with 17.0 ppg. Harrison will be counted on to lead the Red Storm with 2012 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year Moe Harkless moving on to the NBA.

 

The star of USF's 2011-12 renaissance was point guard Anthony Collins. He averaged 9.0 points and 3.4 assists and helped fuel the Bulls' run to the NCAA Tournament's third round.

 

Syracuse guard Brandon Triche is back for his senior season. A starter throughout his career with the Orange, Triche averaged 9.4 points last season.

 

There are many other candidates and no one can foresee where the next big surprise will come from. Let us know what you think about this year's crop of candidates on our Facebook page, on Twitter (@BIGEASTMBB) and our Pinterest Board of candidates