Big East Tournament 2011: Ranking the Top 25 Players
It would be pretty foolish to argue that any of the conference tournaments are more exciting than the NCAA Tournament itself, but Big East postseason play has consistently delivered it's share of thrills throughout the years.
As the Big East has continued to evolve, so has it's postseason tournament which now features all 16 teams and spans nearly an entire week.
The fact the Big East Tournament is played at Madison Square Garden and includes a multitude of Top 25 teams, only adds to its allure.
It's probably not as difficult as winning the NCAA Tournament (as some have suggested), but navigating your way through the 16-team, five day slug-fest requires plenty of star power to get the job done.
To accompany the upcoming Big East Tournament I've compiled a ranking of the Top 25 players in the conference who will have a huge say in which team emerges victorious at the end of what will no doubt be another epic round of Big East postseason play.
No matter how good your team is, being the last man standing in the Big East Tournament is an extremely difficult task, but having a couple of the guys on this list absolutely increases your chances of emerging victorious.
Note: In determining this list I've excluded players who have been ruled out of the tournament due to injury.
Honorable Mention (in No Particular Order):
Trying to make a list of the 25 best players in a conference as talented and deep as the Big East is no easy task and there are bound to be a few very good players who miss the cut.
Cleveland Melvin (injured)
Chris Wright (injured)
25. Vincent Council
Because of how good Marshon Brooks has been this season, it's not very surprising that a player like Vincent Council hasn't gotten much attention on a Providence team that's only won four games in Big East play all season.
Even though this sophomore from Brooklyn hasn't been very highly publicized, he gives the Friars a fiery competitor at the point guard position who can contribute in a lot of ways. Council's ability to penetrate and dish has him second in the Big East in assists and the 6'2'' guard has been creating easy scoring opportunities for his teammates all season long.
Council is also the Friars second leading scorer and although he's somewhat of a streaky shooter, he is absolutely capable of carrying this team on his better days or playing a very nice supporting role to Brooks when his shot is less consistent.
Because of his quickness and instincts, Council is a pesky defender and also very effective in transition where he can wreak havoc when the ball is in his hands.
Only a sophomore, Council has plenty of room to improve his game and although he will be without Marshon Brooks next season, he should continue to mature and stake his claim as one of the best point guards in the Big East.
24. Yancy Gates
The first thing that stands out about Yancy Gates is his 6'9'', 265 pound frame, which allows him to bang under the basket with even the biggest of opponents.
Gates size and strength are certainly impressive but he's also lighter on his feet and more comfortable with the ball away from the basket than most players his size.
Because of this, Gates can put the ball on the floor and generally get to the basket against less mobile players who usually end up guarding him.
The junior big man from Cincinnati isn't the most consistent player, but when Gates is motivated, he's incredibly tough to contend with around the basket, as teams like Xavier, St. John's, Providence, Georgetown, Connecticut and Marquette have all learned this season.
Gates season averages of 11 points and seven rebounds per game aren't eye-popping, but his performance over the last five games has been inspired as he's averaged 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in helping Cincinnati go 4-1 during a stretch which has essentially earned them a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
A true space-eater down low, Gates has plenty of potential and all of the physical tools necessary to dominate a given game.
Although he might not always live up to this potential, he's definitely made some solid progress during his junior season and he looks to be saving his best for the Bearcats postseason play.
23. Corey Stokes
Unfortunately, Corey Stokes has had injury problems for most of his senior season, but this sweet shooting guard has still managed to be productive for Villanova.
He's missed games due to turf toe and is currently dealing with a pulled hamstring which kept him out of the Wildcats most recent loss to Pittsburgh.
It's been announced that Stokes will be a game time decision in Villanova's opening round game, and the Wildcats could really use their second leading scorer in the lineup when they play South Florida on Tuesday.
The 6'5'' senior is vital to the Wildcats success and when Stokes is at his best they're a very tough team to beat. Stokes calling card is his deadly long range shooting and his 43 percent success rate from three. It not only makes him far and away the best long range shooter on Villanova, it also makes him one of the best long range shooters in the Big East.
The New Jersey native is used primarily as a spot up shooter in Villanova's three guard offense which takes full advantage of Stokes expansive range and feathery touch. But he's also shown he can put the ball on the floor if his defender over pursues and get himself a better look at the basket.
Villanova is hoping that Stokes will be ready to play once the Big East Tournament tips off because the senior guard can be a huge difference maker who just might be able to shoot them out of their recent funk.
22. Alex Oriakhi
Like a lot of young big men, Alex Oriakhi is still expanding his game but at 6'9'' 240 pounds, this sophomore can be an imposing physical presence in the paint.
Freakishly long and an above average athlete, Oriakhi has already displayed the ability to dominate games on the boards and on defense but like a lot young players, he struggles with consistency.
Before Big East play began, Oriakhi played the best basketball of his young collegiate career against teams like Michigan State, Kentucky and Texas and it looked like he was putting everything together.
However, Oriakhi has disappeared for entire games during Big East play and despite the fact that he's got all the tools to be a dominant player around the basket, he doesn't always live up to his potential.
Even considering his up-and-down performances, Oriakhi is second in the Big East in rebounding and his nearly two blocks per game rank fifth in the conference.
The Massachusetts native has steadily worked on improving his offensive game and while he's still not a polished post scorer, Oriakhi looks much more comfortable with his back to the basket and has developed a nice little jump hook.
Alex Oriakhi still has work to do with regards to his consistency and improving his post game, but for now he's one of the best true big men in the Big East who can help Kemba Walker and UConn make some serious noise in the postseason.
21. Carleton Scott
Carleton Scott might not get nearly as much attention as Ben Hansbrough or Tim Abromaitis, but the senior forward is an extremely valuable all-around player for the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame features a rotation that doesn't give much playing time to anyone over 6'8'', which means Scott's contributions around the basket have been vital to the team's immensely successful season.
Scott is a versatile player who can score inside or step back and hit the three and he's also an above average passer who averages over two assists per game. In addition to being Notre Dame's third scoring option behind Hansbrough and Abromaitis, Scott is the team's leading rebounder and his 1.8 blocks per game rank him seventh in the Big East.
The Fighting Irish are a definite threat to win the Big East Tournament this season and one of the biggest reasons why is the great all-around play they get from Carleton Scott who has flourished in an expanded role during his senior season.
20. D.J. Kennedy
D.J. Kennedy is Steve Lavin's jack of all trades who has been a huge part of the Red Storm's revival this season. It's never much of a shock to see this versatile swing man grab double digit rebounds, post five assists, or lead St. John's in scoring on a given night.
Thanks to his multi-faceted abilities, Kennedy leads the Red Storm in rebounding and steals while also ranking second in assists and third in points per game.
The 6'5'' senior is a solid athlete who makes good decisions with the ball. Kennedy can be very effective when he's driving aggressively to the basket either in transition or half court sets.
While Kennedy's not a great shooter, he has shown throughout his career he is capable of hitting the occasional three-pointer which makes his offensive repertoire very versatile.
Kennedy is also a great defender whose 1.9 steals per game show just how active he is on that side of the floor and he's more than capable of slowing down prolific scorers.
Plenty of players see their share of minutes on a very deep St. John's roster but Kennedy has played his role to perfection this season and will no doubt continue his great all-around play in the Big East Tournament.
19. Scoop Jardine
It's been a roller coaster season for Scoop Jardine, but he's certainly a talented player who makes this Syracuse team a contender in the Big East when he's at his best.
The 6'2'' guard was handed the keys to this Syracuse offense at the beginning of this season and while there's generally been more good than bad, Jardine was one of the most criticized players during a mid-season stretch which saw the Orange lose six out of eight games.
Jardine's style of play can definitely be described as "risk or reward" and when Syracuse is losing he tends to take a fair amount of the heat.
Even so, when Jardine's shot is falling he's capable of leading the Orange on offense and his recent performances against Louisville, Villanova and Georgetown are perfect examples of his scoring ability.
Jardine's six assists per game lead the Big East and although he can sometimes try to do too much, he's a good playmaker and a big reason why this Syracuse team is so dangerous in transition.
Jardine's consistency can still be questioned but the talent certainly exists and if he can limit his poor decisions, the Orange will be a serious threat to make a deep run through the Big East Tournament.
18. Maalik Wayns
Maalik Wayns is one of the most fearless players in the Big East whose quickness and natural point guard abilities have allowed him to make a difference for Villanova during his sophomore season.
In the halfcourt, Wayns can penetrate into the lane where he dishes to teammates or uses his powerfully built frame to take it strong against much bigger players. The 6'2'' Philadelphia native is also extremely effective in transition where he his speed and quickness allow him to get to the rim for easy buckets.
Shooting the ball has been somewhat of a struggle for Wayns this season, but he's still scoring over 13 points per game and his 4.7 assists rank amongst the best in the Big East. His toughness on the basketball court is one of Wayns biggest strengths and this diminutive guard never backs down from anyone.
Wayns is also a very active defender who gives great effort on that side of the floor and he can generate steals by playing the passing lanes or picking someone's pocket.
Despite the fact that he's had to share the ball with the likes of Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes, Wayns has posted good numbers during his sophomore season and is on his way to becoming a serious game changer for the Wildcats.
17. Kevin Jones
As a sophomore, Kevin Jones was a key piece on West Virginia's Final Four team last season and although his numbers haven't improved during his junior campaign, this Mount Vernon native is a versatile offensive weapon for Bob Huggins.
Jones has great size and length for a player at the collegiate level and he's an absolute menace on the offensive glass which gives him plenty of easy scoring opportunities around the rim.
Far from a one dimensional player on offense, the 6'8'' forward is also capable of hitting mid-range or outside shots and Jones needs to be accounted for at all times when West Virginia has the ball.
Because of the many ways he can put points on the board, Jones is a tough player to shutdown and his most recent game against Louisville in which he posted 25 points and 16 rebounds (11 offensive) shows just effective he can be.
Jones has struggled with his shot this season but even that hasn't stopped him from registering double digits in 21 of the Mountaineers 31 games this season.
Jones is a relentless and physical player whose experience should prove invaluable for West Virginia as they try to win their second Big East Tournament in as many seasons.
16. Darius Johnson-Odom
Darius Johnson-Odom was a revelation for Marquette as a junior college transfer last season and has emerged as a leader for a feisty Golden Eagles squad as a junior.
Johnson-Odom has a great long range shooting touch and although he hasn't been able to duplicate his 47 percent three-point shooting accuracy from a season ago, he's still a dangerous player from behind the arc.
The Raleigh native is more than just a shooter and Johnson-Odom is adept at putting the ball on the floor and utilizing his quick first step to penetrate and dish to teammates.
Johnson-Odom's athleticism and strength allow him to get to the rim in the half court and also make him a great player in transition.
His 15.9 points per game ranks ninth in the Big East and DJO has a scorers mentality that he carries around with him whenever he's on the floor.
Never afraid to take a big shot, Johnson-Odom is the kind of player who wants the ball in his hands at crunch time and his overtime performance against Connecticut a few weeks ago shows the kind of explosive scorer he can be when the game is on the line.
DJO has the ability to takeover a game with his scoring but he's also a solid all-around player who gives Buzz Williams a little bit of everything from a production standpoint.
15. Preston Knowles
With the exception of Marshon Brooks, perhaps no player in the Big East has improved more from last season than Preston Knowles.
As a junior, Knowles was Louisville's fifth leading scorer who struggled mightily from three (in part because of a nagging hand injury) and played most of his minutes coming off of Rick Pitino's bench.
But this season the 6'1'' guard has been a fixture in the Cardinals starting lineup, shot over 38 percent from three, and his 14.5 points per game are the most on the team.
Knowles has also established himself as one of the leaders of a Louisville squad that has far exceeded their preseason expectations and has emerged as a legitimate contender in the Big East.
Knowles certainly isn't shy when it comes to shooting the three and his long range bombs have carried the Cardinals on multiple occasions this season. At the same time, he's far from one dimensional on the court and Knowles hard work makes him a very well rounded player.
Because of his hustle, Preston grabs nearly four rebounds per game despite being one of the smallest players on the court and his 1.9 steals rank fourth in the Big East.
His three assists per game are second on Louisville and show the kind of unselfishness that make Knowles a true team player.
Knowles might not be the biggest, fastest, or strongest guy in the Big East but he outworks almost everyone he plays against and this energy allows him to make a difference in all aspects of the game.
14. Tim Abromaitis
Tim Abromaitis is one of the most dangerous three-point shooters in the Big East and he can change the complexion of a game with his long range stroke.
Standing 6'8'' and possessing the outside shooting touch of a guard, Abromaitis can be a tough matchup for most defenders and his size allows him to get his shot off over smaller players.
Abromaitis has been a very reliable scorer for the Fighting Irish and he's only failed to reach double digits in points five times this season. In addition to his consistency, Abromaitis has also shown he can be an explosive offensive player and he's posted 20 or more points in 11 games this season.
His 15.2 points per game rank 11th in the Big East and the fact that he hits 42 percent of his three-pointers make him a player that defenders must account for at all times.
Unlike most three-point specialists, Abromaitis is also a very capable rebounder and his 6.2 boards per game ranks second on Notre Dame.
A player like Abromaitis, who can put up a lot of points in a hurry from outside and can also mix it up on the glass is a unique weapon for the Fighting Irish.
His play during this season has been a big reason why Notre Dame had so much success and why they are one of the favorites to win the Big East Tournament.
13. Peyton Siva
Peyton Siva's scoring numbers aren't overly impressive but he's played a crucial role as Louisville's floor general and is such a big part of the Cardinals game plan.
Siva is only 5'11'' but he is one of the most athletic players in the Big East whose lightning fast first step and supreme quickness make it virtually impossible for even the best defenders to keep him from driving to the basket.
Because of his ability to penetrate, the sophomore point guard is one of the best play makers in the Big East and he averages the fifth most assists in the conference.
On offense, Siva's shot is still somewhat of a work in progress but he's incredibly tough to stop in transition and he's a dynamic finisher at the rim.
Siva is also one of the catalysts for Louisville's patented pressure defense and his 2.1 steals per game are a testament to his hustle and nose for the ball.
Unlike some of the other players on this list, Siva isn't a very accomplished scorer but his role as a leader and play maker have been invaluable for Louisville this season.
This diminutive guard wreaks plenty of havoc on both sides of the court and is a definite game changer for Rick Pitino's squad.
12. Kris Joseph
During his sophomore season, Kris Joseph was an extremely productive player who excelled in a supporting role while coming off the Syracuse bench.
But with the departures of players like Wes Johnson, Andy Rautins and Arinze Onuaku, Joseph has been thrust into the starting lineup for the Orange and has done a good job as one of the go to guys for Jim Boeheim this season.
Joseph is the team's leading scorer and second leading rebounder and this 6'7'' swing man has a versatile game which allows him to make a difference for Syracuse in many different ways.
Last season Joseph wasn't much of a long distance shooter, but as a junior he's become much more capable from behind the arc and his 37 percent three-point shooting has made him a player who can score from distance as well as slashing to the basket.
The Canadian import is also a solid rebounder and distributor who routinely looks to get others involved in the offense and also makes a difference on the boards. Joseph is a very good finisher in transition and he displays active hands in Syracuse's zone which has allowed him to average 1.5 steals per game.
Syracuse seems to have righted the ship after a recent rough patch and Kris Joseph will be instrumental in helping this team contend for another Big East title.
11. Jeremy Hazell
Playing on a Seton Hall roster that's out manned during most Big East games, Jeremy Hazell has done his best to keep this team competitive.
Hazell is one of the best scorers in the conference and his 19.4 points per game ranks third behind only Marshon Brooks and Kemba Walker.
While he's put up great scoring numbers, it's been anything but smooth sailing for this Harlem native who has battled both a broken wrist and a gun shot wound during his senior season.
Hazell missed 13 games due to these unfortunate circumstances but he showed just how tough of a person and player he is when he scored 23 points in his first game back.
The 6'5'' guard doesn't shoot great percentages on his way to nearly 20 points per game but when Hazell gets hot from distance, he's a threat to beat some of the best teams the Big East has to offer.
Hazell's shooting was the driving force behind the Pirates upsets over Syracuse, St. John's and Marquette this season and he averaged 26.6 points per game while hitting nearly 62 percent of his three-pointers in those games.
Because of his length and ability to play the passing lanes, Hazell leads the Big East in steals with 2.4 per game and is a constant threat to turn a lazy pass into a fast break.
Seton Hall is only 13-17 overall and 7-11 in the Big East but because they have a player as talented as Hazell on their team it seems that they always have a punchers chance to pull off an upset.
10. Jimmy Butler
There are a lot of players in the Big East who get more hype than Jimmy Butler, but the Marquette forward has had himself a very nice senior season.
Not only has Butler been one of the most consistent players in the Big East this season, he's also been one of it's most versatile.
Possessing good size and length, Butler is a tough matchup on the wing and he's capable of scoring from the perimeter as well as around the basket.
His attacking style of play earns him frequent trips to the free throw line and Butler ranks behind just Marshon Brooks and Kemba Walker in free throws attempted despite the fact that he shoots much less than either player.
Because of his versatile offensive game, Butler leads Marquette in scoring and ranks eighth in the Big East with 16.2 points per game.
The former junior college transfer has been a very efficient player for the Golden Eagles and he's only failed to reach double figures in scoring once all season.
Butler can also hit the glass and he's a willing passer who doesn't need the ball in his hands to make a difference for Marquette. The 6'7'' forward also plays a hard nosed brand of defense and Butler is always ready to contest shots and get into the passing lanes as he looks to create turnovers.
Jimmy Butler might not get as much press as some of his Big East counterparts but he's a very good all-around player who really doesn't have a weakness to his game.
9. Corey Fisher
Despite the fact that it's been a pretty rough season for Corey Fisher, he's still one of the best players in the Big East.
After an MRI recently revealed Fisher has been battling tendinitis in his right knee, it's not surprising that his performance has suffered over the last few weeks.
Fisher has struggled shooting the ball this season but he's played through his off days and knee discomfort to be Jay Wright's go-to player on offense.
The senior guard is averaging 15.5 points per game on the season which ranks him tenth in the Big East.
When he's fully healthy, the New York City native has an explosiveness to his offensive game that allows him to carry Villanova to victory and whether Fisher's hitting from behind the arc or taking it strong to the basket, there are few players in the Big East who can match his ability to put points on the board.
Even though Fisher is asked to carry a significant amount of the scoring load, he also leads the Wildcats in assists and has been an above average distributor when he's not looking for his own shot.
It's been a disappointing season overall for Villanova but this team still needs to be taken seriously in the Big East Tournament and one of the biggest reasons why is Corey Fisher's ability to takeover a game.
8. Ashton Gibbs
Playing on a Pittsburgh team that's often renowned for it's tough defense, Ashton Gibbs brings some serious scoring punch to the Panthers offense.
Shooting over 46 percent from behind the arc, Gibbs isn't just the best three-point shooter in the Big East he's also one of the best three point shooters in the country whose smooth jumper is nearly impossible to stop.
Gibbs can hit shots with a hand in his face and as he's matured, he's gotten much better at putting the ball on the floor and is now capable of hitting pull up jumpers off the bounce.
The 6'2'' New Jersey native has also vastly improved his ability to distribute the ball and his 2.8 assists per game rank third on the Panthers and make him more than just a long distance shooter.
Gibbs 16.4 points per game rank seventh in the Big East and although he has very unorthodox shooting motion you really can't argue with his consistency or results.
The Pittsburgh Panthers are once again one of the elite teams in college basketball and if they're going to win the Big East Tournament and make a run during March Madness, you can bet that Gibbs will be shooting the lights out as he has done for most of the season.
7. Brad Wanamaker
On any given night, Brad Wanamaker can lead the Pittsburgh Panthers to victory in many different ways.
Wanamaker is a versatile scorer who is extremely comfortable with the ball in his hands and although he averages just 12 points per game, this senior guard is capable of going for 20-plus points if necessary.
While Wanamaker is the Panthers second leading scorer, putting the ball in the basket is just the tip of the iceberg when you talk about his contributions to the team.
Wanamaker is a very smart player which makes up for his lack of elite athleticism and allows him to average over five assists per game.
His unselfishness on the offensive side of the floor is a key component to Pittsburgh's success and while some players might be more interested in finding their own shot, Wanamaker is all about the team.
Wanamaker is also Pitt's second leading rebounder at over five per game and although he's just 6'4'', he uses great positioning and instincts to make a difference on the glass.
Consistency is one of Wanamaker's best qualities and because he contributes to Pittsburgh's success in so many different ways, there really isn't a game where he doesn't do at least a few things to help this team win.
Wanamaker isn't a flashy player but he's extremely effective and his contributions as a scorer, defender, distributor, and on the boards are a huge reason why Pittsburgh is one of the best teams in the nation.
6. Rick Jackson
In such a guard dominated league, it can be easy to forget about the incredible season Rick Jackson has had for Syracuse.
The 6'9'' Philadelphia native has been a model of consistency all season long under the basket for Syracuse and his toughness on the glass and on defense has made him not only the best post player in the Big East but also one of the best in the country.
Jackson is averaging 13 points and nearly 11 rebounds per game and his play in the paint has been crucial for a Syracuse team that really hasn't gotten any production out of the highly touted Fab Melo.
Jackson has been extremely efficient on offense and thanks to his ability to finish around the rim and capitalize on the offensive glass, he's shooting nearly 60 percent from the field.
On defense, Jackson has been an anchor in the middle of the Syracuse zone and his 2.5 blocks per game rank first in the Big East and also puts him amongst some of the elite shot blockers in the country.
Rick Jackson has improved every season he's been at Syracuse and he's taken his game to the next level as a senior. If the Orange are going to make a run through the Big East Tournament or March Madness, there's no doubt that Rick Jackson will be doing the dirty work around the basket.
5. Austin Freeman
With the emergence of players like Kemba Walker and Marshon Brooks, it can be easy to forget that Austin Freeman was actually named the Big East's preseason Player Of The Year.
Having played four seasons against extremely tough competition, there's nothing that Freeman hasn't seen over his long career and his high basketball IQ makes him a perfect fit in the Princeton offense.
Freeman's an extremely well-built player at 6'3'' 235 pounds, and he uses his superior strength to overpower defenders and get penetration. When he's not bullying opposing guards, Freeman also has a very nice shooting touch which allows him to do damage from behind the arc as well as from mid-range.
This shooting touch and ability to get to the basket make him a prolific scorer who is capable of going for 20 or more on any given night. As it stands, Freeman averages nearly 18 points per game this season and does so while shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and just over 38 percent from three.
Freeman is a leader for John Thompson III and perhaps the greatest compliment you can give him is that good things happen for Georgetown when he's on the court.
The Georgetown Hoyas have been sputtering of late but Austin Freeman's presence on this roster makes them a threat to go a run in the Big East Tournament.
4. Dwight Hardy
St. John's has probably been the most surprising team in the Big East this season and Dwight Hardy's emergence as one of the conference's top players is a major reason why.
Hardy had a solid 09'-10' campaign with the Red Storm as a transfer student but he has flourished in his second season under new head coach Steve Lavin.
The Bronx native started off a little slow but after notching four consecutive 20 point games against Georgetown, Providence, West Virginia, and Northwestern in an early January stretch which saw St. John's go 4-0, it became pretty clear that Hardy was the type of player who could lead this team to victory against some very tough opponents.
Hardy is one of the best pure scorers in the Big East who possesses a smooth jumper that can be deadly from long range.
As Hardy exhibited against Pittsburgh a few weeks ago, he also has a killer instinct which allows him to be at his best when the game is on the line.
The best part about Hardy's play is that he is peaking at the right time. In St. John's last 11 games, which includes their headline grabbing upset over Duke, Hardy has averaged over 23 points per game and is shooting 46 percent from three.
Dwight Hardy has come on very strong at the end of his senior season and because of his incredible play and the success that St. John's has enjoyed, he is getting some much deserved attention as one of the top players in the Big East.
3. Marshon Brooks
Marshon Brooks plays on a Providence team that is one of the worst in the Big East, but his performance this season has been simply too good to ignore.
Even when you take into account that Brooks is putting up 24.8 points per game on a team that plays uptempo and is currently under .500, you still have to give him his due as one of the elite players in the Big East because of how explosive and consistent his game has been all season long.
Brooks has reached double figures in every game this season and he's scored 20 or more points in 25 of the Friars 31 contests.
This string of games includes his ridiculous 43 and 52 point explosions against Georgetown and Notre Dame in which he nearly willed Providence to victory by himself against two of the better teams in the Big East.
At 6'5'' Brooks is a master at creating his own shot on the wing and while he's not a lights out shooter, he can absolutely score points in bunches.
Besides scoring, Brooks also is a very active and willing player in other aspects of the game as evidenced by his rebounding (7.2 rpg) and defensive numbers (1.5 spg and 1.3 bpg).
The Friars only shot at the big dance is winning the Big East Tournament and while that seems highly unlikely, you can bet that Marshon Brooks will be looking to end his career with a bang.
2. Ben Hansbrough
Ben Hansbrough might rub some people the wrong way, but you can't deny how good he's been for Notre Dame this season.
As a senior, Hansbrough has elevated his game and he's not only become one of the premier scoring threats in the Big East but he's also taken on a much larger role as a play maker for this Notre Dame offense.
Hansbrough is an extremely dangerous three-point shooter and his 45 percent accuracy from behind the arc makes him one of the best long distance shooters in America.
Thanks in large part to his three-point wizardry, Hansbrough has averaged 18.5 points per game this season but he's also capable of hitting from mid-range as well as driving to the basket.
His leadership qualities have been a huge boost to Mike Brey's team this season and there are few players in the country that inspire more confidence late in the second half of a close game than Ben Hansbrough.
Hansbrough also grabs nearly four rebounds per game and he has the ability to create easy shots for his teammates when he's not making teams pay with his silky jumper.
1. Kemba Walker
All of the players on this list are important to their team but it's hard to imagine where UConn would be without Kemba Walker this season.
Walker's transcendent play has made the Huskies a Top 25 team all season and he's kept a young roster competitive in what is probably the toughest conference in college basketball.
Even though he stands just 6'1'' Walker does a little bit of everything for UConn.
Not only does he score more than twice as many points as anyone on UConn but he's also tied for second in rebounds and leads the team in assists.
Walker's quickness makes it pretty much impossible for defenders to keep from penetrating and also allows him to be a menace on the defensive end of the floor.
But the thing that makes Walker the best player in the Big East and one of the best in college basketball is his amazing ability to effortlessly control any game with his incredible scoring prowess.
When this Bronx native is at his best, no one can stop him from doing essentially whatever he wants on the basketball court.
Over the course of the season, we've seen countless instances where Walker has taken over games and lifted UConn to victories over some very talented teams.
One of Walker's best traits is that he makes everyone around him better. Although he's been asked to carry a significant scoring load for the Huskies, it's clear that the younger players on this roster feed off of Walker's play and gain confidence from what he does on the court.
There aren't too many players in the nation like Kemba Walker and he should be ready to do everything he can to lead UConn on a run through the Big East Tournament.
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