If it’s Big East Media Day, that means it’s time for preseason awards as voted on by the league’s coaches.
YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles have been picked to finish seventh in the Big East this season, and sophomore guard Markus Howard has been voted to the preseason All-Big East Second Team.
Marquette racked up 34 points in the polling, finishing two points behind sixth place St. John’s and two points ahead of eighth place Butler. Villanova was installed as the preseason league favorite with 80 points, but only eight of the nine possible first place votes. Seton Hall in second place got a first place nod, as did third place Xavier. One of those votes was from Jay Wright, as coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams or their own players.
It would appear that the league’s coaches are much bigger fans of Seton Hall than the AE staff was in our preseason poll voting. We also did not care much for Creighton, and there’s a pretty big gap in the official poll between the fifth place Bluejays and sixth place St. John’s. Weird. On a personal level, I still think Providence is being massively underrated on both a conference and a national level.
Onwards to the individual honors, then, where everything makes a lot of sense. Villanova grabbed both individual trophies, with Jalen Brunson getting the nod as preseason Player of the Year and Omari Spellman tabbed as preseason Freshman of the Year.
You can’t really argue with either vote, although the AE vote did narrowly pick Xavier’s Trevon Bluiett over Brunson. The junior from the Chicagoland area is going to be the straw that stirs the drink for the preseason league favorite, so it’s a pretty obvious pick. Spellman may have dropped off the radar a little bit after the NCAA ruled him ineligible last season for what our friends over at VU Hoops have referred to as “taking too many classes.” Still, he was the #20 player in the country in the class of 2016 according to 247 Sports, which is better than the #33 attached to Xavier’s Paul Scruggs in the class of 2017. Spellman also has that year of college training and condition attached to him, so he might actually be better this season than could have been expected from him last year.
This year’s preseason All-Big East First Team consists of five seniors, but only because Jalen Brunson is excluded from the list. You can’t argue with the guys tabbed as “next best” in the league: Xavier’s Trevon Bluiett, Seton Hall’s Khadeen Carrington and Angel Delgado, Creighton’s Marcus Foster, and Butler’s Kelan Martin. I do have to say that I’m a little surprised by the lack of support for Martin’s squad in the team polling after he pulled this spot. If you think a guy is one of the six best players in the league, shouldn’t you think his team will be at least in contention for an NCAA tournament spot?
A tie in the voting led to a six man Second Team. Markus Howard is joined by Providence’s Rodney Bullock and Kyron Cartwright, St. John’s Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds, and Villanova’s Mikal Bridges. Creighton’s Khyri Thomas, Seton Hall’s Desi Rodriguez, and Xavier’s J.P. Macura earned Honorable Mention notice, which means they were left on the short end of that tie for Second Team.
Howard led Marquette in scoring last season at 13.2 points per game. A large chunk of that came via the three-point line, as the then-17 year old freshman knocked down triples at a 55% clip. The Arizona native only averaged 22 minutes a game, so landing on the First Team in March with a boost in playing time helping his stats along shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.