Big East Basketball: Top 14 Newcomers for 2012-13

Thad NovakCorrespondent IOctober 5, 2012

Big East Basketball: Top 14 Newcomers for 2012-13

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    Although the Big East returns more talent than pretty much any conference, that doesn’t mean the league isn’t adding its fair share of new standouts. A slew of high-powered freshmen and transfers are on the way.

    Pitt, looking to erase the bad taste of last year’s 5-13 conference record, had a particularly productive offseason. James Robinson has the look of a future star at the point, and he’s only the third-best addition to the Panthers' roster.

    Read on for more about Pitt’s windfall and the best of the other new arrivals joining the Big East this season.

14. Wally Judge, Rutgers

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    After two seasons buried on Kansas State’s bench, Wally Judge looks for a fresh start at Rutgers.

    The Scarlet Knights don’t get many McDonald’s All-Americans, and even a second-hand one should be a major addition to coach Mike Rice’s roster.

    With his 6’9”, 250-pound frame, Judge could easily eclipse senior swingman Dane Miller as the leading rebounder and shot-blocker for Rutgers.

    He’ll also get his share of points inside, though he does have a real chance to be the worst free-throw shooter in the conference after hitting just 52.6 percent from the stripe in his first two college seasons.

13. Cameron Biedscheid, Notre Dame

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    Notre Dame returns all five of last year’s starters, so even the top freshman in coach Mike Brey’s recruiting class may well have to wait his turn.

    Whether he’s starting (potentially in place of Pat Connaughton) or coming off the bench, though, Cameron Biedscheid will add yet another scorer to a potent Irish offense.

    Biedscheid is a 6’6” swingman who can score in the catch-and-shoot game or create off the dribble. At just 190 pounds, however, he’ll need to add plenty of muscle to help him finish against bruising Big East defenses.

12. Luke Hancock, Louisville

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    The same lock-down defense that took Louisville to last year's Final Four will have the Cardinals in a great position to return to those heights this season.

    Of course, that presumes that Rick Pitino’s team can find some offense from somewhere. The addition of junior swingman Luke Hancock will definitely help that cause.

    Hancock is an exceptional passer who dished out 4.3 assists per game in his last season with George Mason. He’ll contribute in other areas, too, having averaged 10.9 points and 4.2 rebounds for the Patriots.

11. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown

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    For a Georgetown team that lost backcourt star Jason Clark to graduation, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera is a godsend. The powerful Smith-Rivera is a formidable slasher who will also bring solid jump-shooting skills.

    At 6’3”, 220 pounds, Smith-Rivera will have more muscle than plenty of forwards, even in this conference. He’ll make a scary inside-outside tandem with the Hoyas’ sophomore leader, power forward Otto Porter.

10. Daniel Ochefu, Villanova

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    After two seasons of relying on all-power, no-finesse Mouphtaou Yarou in the low post, coach Jay Wright has recruited his exact opposite.

    Daniel Ochefu is a 6’9”, 225-pound center with a first-class face-up game. He will give the Wildcats a frontcourt scoring threat they haven’t had in several years.

    Ochefu is also an effective shot-blocker, another area where he’ll be a valuable complement to the more ground-bound Yarou.

    Of course, the freshman will learn a lot from senior Yarou about mixing it up under the boards, especially in the physical Big East.

9. James Robinson, Pitt

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    Already blessed with one wonderful point guard in Tray Woodall, Pitt has brought in another as part of Jamie Dixon's outstanding recruiting class.

    At 6’3”, James Robinson fits the mold of physical Pitt point guards, and he brings serious offensive skills.

    Robinson is a pass-first floor leader with superior instincts. He’s a respectable scorer, too, but he doesn’t have ideal speed or quickness to match up with Big East competition.

8. Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova

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    With Maalik Wayns off to the NBA, Ryan Arcidiacono is poised to become the next in Villanova’s long line of stellar combo guards. The 6’3” freshman is a fearsome three-point shooter as well as a dazzling passer.

    Arcidiacono’s ball-handling skills are ready for the rigors of the Big East, and he’s no pushover as a defender.

    Even without A+ athletic ability, he’s the best point guard arriving in the conference (thanks in part to the possible season-ending injury to Providence’s Kris Dunn).

7. Jakarr Sampson, St. John’s

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    Losing Moe Harkless to the NBA after one season was a bump in Steve Lavin’s rebuilding road, but he’s found an enviable replacement in this year’s freshman class. 6’8” Jakarr Sampson is, like Harkless, a tweener forward with phenomenal athleticism.

    Sampson’s quickness and leaping ability make him especially dangerous as a finisher in transition and on defense, where he’ll be a force as a shot-blocker from the wing.

    His shooting range is still a work in progress, but he’ll still be an imposing complement to the more perimeter-oriented D’Angelo Harrison.

6. Jerami Grant, Syracuse

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    With two erstwhile NBA power forwards in his family tree, it’s no surprise that Jerami Grant knows how to rebound.

    Grant—son of Harvey and nephew of Horace, not to mention brother of current Notre Dame guard Jerian—is a mobile 6’8” forward who will make an immediate impact on the glass.

    Grant’s length will also make him a major factor in Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone. He’s not a consistent offensive weapon at this stage, but with his mobility he’ll get his share of points in transition and off the offensive boards.

5. Omar Calhoun, UConn

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    It’s been a stormy offseason in Storrs, but the best news the Huskies got all summer was the arrival of Omar Calhoun to join the backcourt.

    The 6’3” Brooklyn product is a lethal catch-and-shoot scorer who might remind some Huskies fans of former UConn star Rip Hamilton.

    Of course, unlike the collegiate version of Hamilton, Calhoun can also make an impact as a defender. He’s not a first-class ball-handler, but with Shabazz Napier around, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

4. Trent Lockett, Marquette

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    The return of point guard Junior Cadougan will give Marquette someone to run the offense, and the arrival of transfer Trent Lockett will give Cadougan a big-time scorer to feed.

    The 6’5” Lockett averaged 13 points and a team-high 5.8 rebounds per game for Arizona State a season ago.

    Lockett is also an improving defender who racked up 1.5 steals a game last year. He won’t make Marquette fans forget Darius Johnson-Odom, but he’ll certainly keep the scoring star’s departure from crippling the Golden Eagle offense.

3. Trey Zeigler, Pitt

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    Even with no outside shot to speak of, Trey Zeigler is poised to be one of Pitt’s most dangerous offensive weapons this season.

    The 6’5” swingman arrives in Pittsburgh after two seasons of slashing his way to a combined 16 points per game for Central Michigan.

    Zeigler was also a serious factor as a rebounder against MAC competition, pulling down 6.7 boards a game as a sophomore.

    He’ll endear himself to Panther fans with his tough defense, too (he averaged 1.2 steals per game over his two seasons with the Chippewas).

2. DaJuan Coleman, Syracuse

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    The departure of NBA-bound Fab Melo would leave a serious hole in the middle of most defenses, but Jim Boeheim found a rather impressive patch for his 2-3 zone.

    DaJuan Coleman is a 6’9”, 275-pound earth-mover who will immediately become one of the most physically imposing players in the country.

    Coleman’s ability to control an area with his enormous bulk makes him a devastating rebounder as well as a great defender.

    On the other end, he has the soft hands to make the most of the big target he presents when posting up—plus the finishing ability you’d expect from a player with his strength.

1. Steven Adams, Pitt

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    After a rare down year on defense, Jamie Dixon’s Panthers will look to return to their usual stifling form.

    They took a big step in that direction by reeling in Steven Adams, the 6’10” cornerstone of Dixon’s recruiting class and ESPNU’s sixth-best recruit nationwide.

    Adams, a New Zealand native, is a fantastic shot-blocker and rebounder with solid athletic ability.

    He also has a nice jump shot for a center, even if his 235-pound frame may need more weight to handle the pounding he’ll take in the low post.