Big East Basketball: Ranking the Conference's Best Players in 2013-14 Season

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 5, 2013

Big East Basketball: Ranking the Conference's Best Players in 2013-14 Season

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    The time is finally here, college basketball fans. 

    Now that the season begins on Friday, we can begin to analyze all of the play on the court and be surprised and/or disappointed in the teams for which we cheer.

    In the revamped Big East Conference, 10 teams will be vying to be named conference champion.

    All of those 10 teams have star players, but only 10 specific individuals in the league were able to make this list.

    Here is a look at the 10 best players that will play in the Big East this season. 

10. Ryan Arcidiacono

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    As a freshman last season, Villanova University point guard Ryan Arcidiacono dazzled in nonconference play before experiencing some growing pains. 

    With the offense in his control during his sophomore season, the Wildcats guard will have to turn himself into a smarter player. 

    If he can avoid some of the stupid low percentage shots that he took last season, Arcidiacono could become one of the biggest surprises in the Big East. 

9. Khyle Marshall

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    It is going to be a long first season in charge for Butler University's head coach Brandon Miller, but luckily he will have senior forward Khyle Marshall to rely on. 

    Marshall started in all but one game last season and averaged 9.6 points per game while becoming the best field-goal shooter in percentage (56.6 percent) for the Bulldogs. 

    The 6'8" forward will be relied on a ton by the Bulldogs with Roosevelt Jones out for the season, and there is no doubt that he will be one of the top statistical producers in the conference because of that reliance on him. 

8. Fuquan Edwin

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    I guarantee you this right now: Seton Hall's Fuquan Edwin will be one of the least talked about star players in the nation because of the low profile of his team. 

    The 6'6" senior could potentially turn into an NBA draft pick if he continues to play at the high level that he did last season when he averaged 16.5 points per game. 

    Just like Khyle Marshall at Butler, Seton Hall will have a great reliance on Edwin given his high productivity levels and experience.

    Expect Edwin to deliver once again for the Pirates but to be left out of the All-Big East First Team because of the lack of exposure he will receive. 

7. Bryce Cotton

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    Another experienced head on the back end of this list is Providence guard Bryce Cotton. 

    Cotton has been another player whose national stock has been weighed down because of how bad the Friars have been. 

    Without Cotton, the Friars would probably challenge DePaul and Seton Hall for the dubious title of worst team in the Big East. 

    With the 6'1" senior in the lineup, Providence will most likely finish in the middle of the Big East standings and find themselves on the fringe of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament discussion. 

6. Semaj Christon

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    The Xavier Musketeers have entered the Big East with not much fanfare surrounding them, but that could all soon change because of sophomore Semaj Christon. 

    Christon, who was the team's leading scorer with 15.2 points per game last season, collected a bevy of accolades at the end of his freshman season, including the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year award. 

    After he conquered the A-10 on an individual basis last season, Christon is looking to find the same success on the collective level in his first year in the Big East. 

    With Xavier being picked to finish in the middle of the pack this season, Christon and the Musketeers have a point to prove, and they just may well do that on their way to becoming one of the nation's surprise teams.

5. Grant Gibbs

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    There are a few reasons why Creighton was picked so high in the Big East preseason poll. 

    One of those reasons is the return of Grant Gibbs, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA before practice began. 

    Gibbs led the Missouri Valley Conference in assists last season and he is a viable backup scoring option in the Bluejays offense if Doug McDermott gets shut down. 

    Although he may not have the scoring skills that the previous names on this list have, Gibbs carries plenty of intangibles and a winning mentality into the Big East that will keep his team near the top of the conference for the entire season. 

4. Markel Starks

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    Markel Starks may not be the most recognizable name on this list at the start of the season, but by its conclusion, he could top it. 

    Starks is poised to become the man at Georgetown now that Otto Porter Jr. is playing professionally and Greg Whittington is still injured.

    The senior guard has been named to the Bob Cousy Award watch list, and he could put his name in the conversation for the award if he steps up like he should for the Hoyas this season. 

    In all honesty, Starks' play could determine where exactly the Hoyas end up in the Big East standings this season since there are no other big play threats on the team's roster. 

3. Rysheed Jordan

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    It's time to play into the St. John's preseason hype machine with the high listing of freshman guard Rysheed Jordan. 

    Jordan's addition to the Red Storm roster has everyone in the New York City basketball scene excited for Steve Lavin's team to begin playing again. 

    By leading a majority of young players taking to the court with no fear, Jordan could put up some explosive numbers in his freshman season. 

    If all the talk surrounding Jordan and the Red Storm is true, then fans in the seats of Carnesecca Arena and Madison Square Garden could be in for quite a show over the next six months. 

2. Davante Gardner

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    Davante Gardner has already earned his fair share of honors in his three previous seasons at Marquette, but his senior season has a deeper purpose. 

    The Golden Eagles are trying to get over the hump and reach the Final Four, which is a realistic goal for the experienced squad.

    Gardner's commitment to the cause is high as he shed a few pounds in the offseason to help with his agility in the paint. 

    Last season's Big East Sixth Man of the Year will be a physical presence in the paint for every second he plays, and if he surpasses his totals of  11.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game from a year ago, like he is expected to do, Gardner could challenge McDermott for Player of the Year honors. 

1. Doug McDermott

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    Right now there are two categories of top players in the Big East: Doug McDermott and everyone else.

    The AP Preseason All-American  selection dominated the Missouri Valley a year ago, and he is expected to do the same in the Big East this year. 

    McDermott stands at 6'8", but he is not your typical big man, as he is a threat from all areas of the court. 

    In his junior season, McDermott averaged 23.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, two totals that could easily be overtaken by the numbers he puts up in his senior season. 

    If all goes well for McDermott and Creighton, he should contend for National Player of the Year honors and be a first-round pick in the NBA draft. 


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