Big East Conference: Players To Watch

Scott McGrath@smcgrath5Correspondent IDecember 14, 2009

NEW YORK - MARCH 11: Jeremy Hazell #21 of the Seton Hall Pirates drives to the hoop against the Syracuse Orange during the second round of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 11, 2009 in New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The sixth installment of the "Players to Watch" segment features the Big East Conference.

Luke Harangody—Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Harangody has been a dominant player for three years with the Irish, and enters this season with even higher expectations. His numbers have steadily increased from year to year with his development, and he is putting on a show again this season, averaging a double-double.

Harangody is the reigning rebounding leader and scoring leader of the Big East conference, both impressive feats.  He has not scored less than 16 points so far this season and has not had less than seven rebounds in a game. 

The Irish have not played many big games yet this season, and are coming off of a loss to Loyola-Marymount, but 'Gody did drop 29 points and gathered 15 rebounds in a win against Kennesaw.

Harangody's stats are a little inflated, though, as he took over 100 shots more than anyone in the Big East last season.  But he has a great field-goal percentage.

Notre Dame may struggle this season, but keep an eye on Harangody to lead this team to another solid season.

Deonta VaughnCincinnati Bearcats

Vaughn may not get the press that a player like Lance Stephenson gets, but don't let that fool you.  Vaughn is a key piece to the Bearcats success, and is practically their Shane Battier.

Vaughn fills up stat lines easily, averaging around 11 points, four assists, four rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game.  Last season, Vaughn finished seventh in the Big East for most assists and certainly was overlooked.

Cincinnati has had a fairly difficult schedule so far this season, but Vaughn's most impressive game came against Toledo, when he had 13 points, four rebounds, nine assists, and four steals.  Against tougher opponents, such as Xavier and Maryland, Vaughn has been solid too.

One thing to note about Vaughn is his durability.  He does not get himself in foul trouble and he certainly has stamina. He was sixth in minutes played in the Big East last season, playing almost 89 percent of all minutes.

Da'Sean Butler—West Virginia Mountaineers

Butler surged as the leader of West Virginia last season and, as a senior, improvement is only expected.  He is a great scorer, but also adds rebounds and assists to his plethora of abilities.

When Butler plays well, West Virginia wins, and usually wins big.  In the two games where Butler has scored 20 or more points, West Virginia has won by 22 or more.  He is clearly the leader of this team and his best game came against Loyola Maryland.  He scored 26 points, collected seven rebounds, and had five assists in a huge win.

Butler is the senior leader of this Mountaineer squad, and if they hope to compete this season, it will be behind the play of Butler as well as Devin Ebanks.  Just to show how dominant Butler is, he finished in the top 10 in scoring last season in the very competitive Big East.

Jeremy Hazell—Seton Hall Pirates

Hazell became a household name last season as a sophomore when he surprised many in the Big East by averaging over 20 points per game. He finished second in scoring, behind only Harangody.

After a disappointing start against St. Peter's, scoring only two points, Hazell has been lights-out ever since, scoring no less than 15 points in each game.  He has had two 30-plus-point games, and has led the Pirates to an 8-0 start. 

Seton Hall has not faced anyone particularly challenging as of yet, but in a shootout with VMI, Hazell accounted for 33 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, and four steals.  He is the Pirates' leader this season, and after the strong start to the season, Hazell has many wondering if Seton Hall can make a return to March Madness. They have not made the NCAA Tournament since the 2005 season.

Just a sidenote on what makes Hazell even more impressive: he is among top 10 in the Big East in steals, showing how greatly he contributes on both sides of the ball.


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