Vincent Council, Peyton Siva Lead Big East's Point Guard Beasts in 2012-13

Todd StevensContributor IAugust 16, 2012

Vincent Council, Peyton Siva Lead Big East's Point Guard Beasts in 2012-13

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    The Big East Conference apologizes to no major conference when it comes to talent, competition and success on the court in men’s basketball. And when it comes to hoops, everything begins at the point guard position.

    Who will be the Big East’s beasts at the point in 2012-13? Let’s rank them, from scoring, to assists, to experience, to raw talent, and see who gets top billing. Discuss ‘em, debate ‘em, rank ‘em yourself. Here’s one writer’s view.

1. Vincent Council, Providence

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    Big East Rank: Scoring (10); Assists (1); Mins (1); Ast/TO (5); Steals (NR)

    A third-team all-Big East returnee, Council averaged 15.9 points a game and a conference-best 7.5 assists last season. The 6’2” senior ranked fourth nationally in dishes per game, and said recently (via brooklynfans.com), “In my own opinion, I think I’m the best (in the Big East heading into 2012-13).”

    Council also topped the league in minutes played, and his assist-to-turnover ratio ranked fifth. He’s a solid floor general, one the Friars can build around as they continue to rebuild.

2. Peyton Siva, Louisville

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    Big East Rank: Scoring (NR); Assists (4); Mins (NR); Ast/TO (13); Steals (7)

    The pressure will be on the 6’0” Siva to carry over his phenomenal play during last year’s postseason run, when he was named the Most Outstanding Player at the Big East Conference Championships.

    Rick Pitino will expect the ultra-quick senior to upgrade his 9.1 points per game, as well as his 5.6 assists. What he’d appreciate most, however, would be a reduction in Siva’s 131 turnovers and 24 percent three-point shooting.

    If he shores those areas up, the Cardinals could make another deep NCAA run.

3. Shabazz Napier, UConn

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    Big East Rank: Scoring (23); Assists (3); Mins (NR); Ast/TO (7); Steals (8)

    Maddeningly inconsistent but indisputably talented, Napier averaged 12.7 points and 5.8 assists for the Huskies, who are banned from postseason play this year.

    Napier can be as good as there is nationally when he’s feeling it (top 10 in Big East in assists, steals and turnover ratio), or just plain awful (he missed 18 straight shots over a four-game stretch).

    Still, it’s expected that Napier will improve, even if UConn’s March will contain no Madness.

4. Eric Atkins, Notre Dame

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    Big East Rank: Scoring (NR); Assists (12); Mins (4); Ast/TO (11); Steals (NR)

    The captain of coach Mike Brey’s Fighting Irish, the 6’1” Atkins is a steadying influence on a team that returns all five starters. A starter himself since his freshman year, Atkins averaged 12.1 points and 4.1 assists as a sophomore.

    As instinctual as they come at point guard, Atkins was voted team captain last December and has the trust of his teammates. “It’s basically whatever Eric says, goes,” said Jerian Grant (via the Chicago Tribune), Atkins’ backcourt partner. “Once we get on the court, it’s all Eric.”

5. Tray Woodall, Pitt

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    Big East Rank: Scoring (NR); Assists (NR); Mins (NR); Ast/TO (NR); Steals (NR)

    If these rankings were based on perseverance and overcoming adversity, Woodall would be ranked No. 1, hands down. He’s fought off a lot to become Pitt’s point guard entering the 2012-13 season—including two separate injuries last year that hampered him.

    Woodall still averaged 11.7 points and 6.1 assists per game, good for third in the Big East if he’d played enough games to qualify. But his return from abdominal and groin injuries late in the year keyed a late run by Jamie Dixon’s team after a 0-7 league start.

    If the Panthers are to return to March Madness in 2013, Woodall must remain healthy.

6. Anthony Collins, South Florida

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    Big East Rank: Scoring (NR); Assists (6); Mins (NR); Ast/TO (14); Steals (9)

    One of the Big East’s top freshmen in 2011-12, the 6’1” Collins averaged 9.0 points and 5.2 assists for a South Florida team that surprised the nation by earning an NCAA Tournament bid.

    He scored in double figures (12, 17 13) in all three of the Bulls’ tourney games.

    Collins needs to whittle down his 3.4 turnovers per game average, but he’s the star and unquestioned floor leader for South Florida heading into this season.

7. Cashmere Wright, Cincinnati

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    Big East Rank: Scoring (NR); Assists (11); Mins (NR); Ast/TO (8); Steals (4)

    Wright, a senior, brings a steady hand to a Bearcats team that made it to the Big East Championship title game last year, and then made a three-game run in the NCAAs.

    Wright’s 10.9 points and 4.6 assists are crucial to coach Mick Cronin’s 2012-13 plans, but what many miss are Wright’s steals (fourth in  the Big East) and rebounds (3.8 per game).

8. Brandon Young Jr., DePaul

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    Big East Rank: Scoring (14); Assists (9); Mins (NR); Ast/TO (10); Steals (15)

    DePaul may not make many waves in the Big East, but Young Jr. sure does. The 6’4” junior point guard ranked 14th in scoring, ninth in assists, 10th in assist-to-turnover ratio and 15th in steals last year. Those numbers are expected to improve.

    He was also invited to the Kevin Durant Skills Academy in June, a camp geared toward improving the overall game of top college and prep players.

    Young needs work on his long-distance shooting and ball-handling to rise into the upper echelon of conference point guards.

9. Markel Starks, Georgetown

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    Big East Rank: Scoring (NR); Assists (NR); Mins (NR); Ast/TO (NR); Steals (NR)

    The Hoyas lost a lot of personnel from last year’s team (Jason Clark and Henry Sims, most notably). The 6’2” Starks is going to try and fill some of that gap at the point after averaging 7.1 points (second leading returning scorer) and 1.6 assists in extended duty as a sophomore.

    He leads a busy off-court life as well, as he recently ran for vice president of Georgetown’s Student Association.

10. Junior Cadougan, Marquette

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    Big East Rank: Scoring (NR); Assists (5); Mins (NR); Ast/TO (9); Steals (NR)

    The 6’1” Cadougan isn’t a big scorer (6.3 points per game as a junior). But he is Marquette’s assist machine, and his 5.4 dimes a night last season were good for fifth in the conference.

    He’s a poor long-range shooter (21 percent), and he gained some web notoriety for doing an awful rendition of a Mariah Carey song, but he will be coach Buzz Williams’ on-court leader this fall.  

11. Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse

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    Big East Rank: Scoring (NR); Assists (NR); Mins (NR); Ast/TO (NR); Steals (NR)

    He had a hard time cracking the uber-talented Orangemen lineup last season, but Carter-Williams did show flashes of talent during the opportunities he had.

    The tall (6’5”) point guard averaged 2.7 points and 2.1 assists for Jim Boeheim’s star-studded team, shooting 43 percent from the field and 39 percent from three-point distance.

    He’s going to be raw early on, but come March he and the Orange should be making news.

12. Phil Greene, St. John's

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    Big East Rank: Scoring (NR); Assists (NR); Mins (NR); Ast/TO (NR); Steals (NR)

    Thrown into the rugged Big East as a freshman, Greene responded by being a calming influence in St. John’s halfcourt game. His 7.8 points and 2.9 assists per game were decent, but his stroke needs some work (36 percent FG, 28 percent from three-point range).

    The 6’2” sophomore will also need to work on protecting the basketball, as he turned it over twice for every three assists.

13. Jerome Seagears, Rutgers

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    Big East Rank: Scoring (NR); Assists (NR); Mins (NR); Ast/TO (NR); Steals (NR)

    Another youthful point guard, Seagears averaged 7.7 points as a freshman for Rutgers in 2011-12, scoring in double figures 10 times, including three of the Scarlet Knights’ final five games.

    Now a true sophomore, the 6’1” guard will be counted on heavily for more of everything: scoring, perimeter defense and distribution in Rutgers’ motion offense.

14. Troy Chennault, Villanova

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    Big East Rank: Scoring (NR); Assists (NR); Mins (NR); Ast/TO (NR); Steals (NR)

    Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek each bolted a year early for the NBA draft, taking 30 points a game with them for a Villanova team that’s rebuilding. It appears that Wake Forest transfer Troy Chennault is going to get the chance to fill the point guard position.

    He’ll learn on the run, as Chennault averaged 9.0 points and 2.8 assists for the Demon Deacons in the ACC last season, but was granted a hardship waiver and is eligible to play for the Wildcats in 2012-13.

15. Freddie Wilson, Seton Hall

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    Big East Rank: Scoring (NR); Assists (NR); Mins (NR); Ast/TO (NR); Steals (NR)

    The Hall got some rough news in July when the NCAA denied a hardship petition for Texas transfer Sterling Gibbs. A talented point man, Gibbs would have changed the Pirates’ fortunes entirely had he been allowed to compete immediately.

    As things stand, however, it looks like untested sophomore Freddie Wilson (1.8 ppg, 0.7 apg) will get the first crack at running the offense.