We see you over there on October 18th, Big East Media Day. We know you’re waiting with all sorts of preseason award goodness. Because we know that’s looming at The Garden next week, we’re going to make some picks/predictions on the preseason awards right now. We’ve got picks for Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, All-Big East Team, and the top five teams in the league this season. If you’re like me and you’re expecting big things from the hometown team, well, I think you’re going to like these picks.
Preseason Player of the Year: Allazia Blockton, Marquette
Ok, let’s try this again. Once more, with feeling, such as it is. A year ago, I picked Blockton as preseason POY thanks to her status as the best returning scorer and best returning rebounder in the league. She doesn’t quite have the same credentials this time around, but Blockton did lead the league, seniors and all, in scoring last year. She finished 11th in rebounding at exactly six boards per game, and that’s the sixth best mark amongst returning players. Blockton also added passing to her game last season, ranking 10th in the Big East in assists, even though she was only fourth (!) on her own team. That puts her eighth in assists on a list of only returning players to the league, and fifth if you eliminate her three teammates in front of her.
No returning player in the league can match that combination of top 11 stats from last season.
I could have simplified all of this and pointed out that Blockton was one of two unanimous choices for all-Big East First Team at the end of last season, and the other one was DePaul’s Brooke Schulte, and she was a senior.
Preseason Freshman of the Year: Qadashah Hoppie, St. John’s
Sometimes you need to keep this as simple as possible. Hoppie is the top ranked recruit headed to a Big East school according to Prospects Nation at #44. The 5’7” guard from Staten Island averaged 15.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists as a senior and earned her way onto the McDonald’s All-American Game nominee list. Seton Hall’s Selena Philoxy would be the #2 prospect waaaaaaay down at #135 on PN’s top 150, while Dee Bekelja is ESPN’s top prospect in the league at #94 on their top 100.
Preseason All-Big East Team
Obviously, Blockton is a mandatory choice here. Faber is also a shoo-in, as she’s the only other postseason First Team honoree returning from last season. The other three are assembled from the four returning players on the all-league Second Team. Schickel was #6 in scoring and #1 in rebounding last season, so she seems like a strong option. White might be Blockton’s biggest challenger as a multifaceted player, ranking 4th in scoring, 20th in rebounding, and 11th in assists. I went with Davenport over Villanova’s Adrianna Hahn more on gut feel than anything else. Hahn did a ton of scoring for a low-output VU team last year, but her impact is largely limited to just scoring by way of her three-point shooting. Davenport has the ability to affect a game as a scorer and a rebounder (12th in scoring, 2nd in rebounding last year), so I’ll give the edge to her.
It is entirely possible that Davenport’s teammates end up costing her a spot. Putting Natisha Hiedeman or Amani Wilborn on the preseason all-Big East team would not be totally bonkers. Hiedeman picked up an honorable mention in last year’s postseason awards and Wilborn was named Most Outstanding Player of the Big East tournament (14.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists in the three games) after Marquette hoisted the trophy. While anything but a unanimous vote for Blockton would be criminal, I can easily see the other three splitting votes based on each of the other nine coaches’ individual ideas of what they find important and ultimately leaving all three off the team.
Shoutout to Danielle King, who does not get enough credit amongst MU’s current junior class, by the way.
Top 5 Teams
1 - Marquette
2 - Creighton
3 - DePaul
4 - Georgetown
5 - St. John’s
Yep, I’m picking the Golden Eagles to win a league title to match their tournament title from last season. The overwhelming power of the incredibly talented junior class is just too much to ignore at this point.
Creighton seems like the obvious #2 team. Audrey Faber and Sydney Lamberty should be able to provide enough pop even after the departures of Marissa Janning and Brianna Rollerson. DePaul loses an absolute ton from their senior class, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before I completely rule out Doug Bruno. Georgetown looks to be on the rise with White and Dorothy Adomako powering the engine, even though former assistant James Howard is now the head coach after the departure of Natasha Adair in May. There may be questions about the Red Storm with Jade Walker and Aaliyah Lewis now gone, but Akina Wellere and Maya Singleton can keep St. John’s at their usual competitive level.