NEW: Big East Awards Announced
The Big East officially announced the first batch of individual awards today, along with announcing some of the All-Conference participants yesterday.
Let’s start with the All-Conference teams, here’s the first team in case you missed it:
First Team: Adama Sanogo, Jordan Hawkins, Ryan Kalkbrenner, Tyler Kolek, Bryce Hopkins, Souley Boum
The main thing to point out is the unanimous selections, Bryce Hopkins and Tyler Kolek. Those two deserved their spots, though I was very surprised to not see Souley Boum as a unanimous selection. He’s been absolutely excellent this season, making clutch shot after clutch shot for Xavier and leading this high-powered offense all season long. I thought deserved a unanimous selection for this, personally.
Hawkins, Sanogo and Kalkbrenner round out the first team, which for some reason has always had six guys. I don’t know why, but at the same time, it’s very hard to argue against any of these six. Sanogo might just be the most dominant player in the conference, Kalkbrenner leads the conference in blocked shots, field goal percentage and anchors Creighton’s success. Hawkins has really emerged for UConn as a dominant scorer, totaling 20+ points in 8 of UConn's last 11 games.
Graphic from the Big East, just better like this for formatting purposes
Second Team: Oso Ighodaro, Kam Jones, Joel Soriano, Eric Dixon, Colby Jones
The Second Team has two more representatives from the Regular Season Champions, with Kam Jones and Oso Ighodaro both laying claim to their spots. They are joined by double-double machine Joel Soriano, Eric Dixon and Colby Jones.
Ighodaro and Kam Jones play very important roles for Marquette, with Jones leading the team in scoring with 15.3PPG, going for more than 20 points on eight separate occasions this season. Ighodaro functions as a point center at times, who’s able to run the offense and only takes efficient shots. Ighodaro averaged 11.9PPG, 5.8 rebounds per game, 3.3 assists, 1.5 blocks and a steal per game this season.
Soriano is a dominant big man for the Red Storm, as he leads the conference in rebounding by over three rebounds per game, also ranks fourth in the country here averaging 11.8 rebounds per game. He's tenth in the conference in scoring, averaging 15.2PPG. He’s been a force inside for the Red Storm, and has been a shining star for them this season, in what has been a pretty disappointing season.
Eric Dixon is the Villanova representative on these two teams, leading the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding, averaging 15.7PPG and 6.4 RPG, on efficient shooting, including over 50% from the field. He’s a big man who can bang inside and stretch the floor, shooting 37.8% from three and converting exactly 80% of his attempts from the charity stripe.
Dixon joins the aforementioned Joel Soriano, Bryce Hopkins and Adama Sanogo as the only four players to rank inside the Top Ten in the conference in both scoring and rebounding. As a result, all four players got All-Conference honors.
This group is rounded out by Xavier’s Swiss Army knife on the wing in Colby Jones. Jones has done it all for the Musketeers, averaging 15.3PPG, 5.3RPG and 4.6 assists per game, headlined by his 29-point, nine-rebound and four-assist performance in the Musketeer’s win over Providence on Wednesday. Jones ranks inside the conference’s top ten in scoring, top five in assists and top 20 in rebounding, which he’s the only player in the conference to do.
Graphic from the Big East, just better like this for formatting purposes
Freshman Team: Donovan Clingan, Alex Karaban, AJ Storr, Mark Armstrong, Cam Whitmore, Desmond Claude
The All-Freshman team also has six guys with Alex Karaban, Donovan Clingan, AJ Storr, Desmond Claude, Mark Armstrong and Cam Whitmore.
Whitmore and Armstrong are the two Villanova representatives, with Whitmore being the most highly-touted recruit entering the conference this offseason. He had a very good season, averaging 12.6PPG, 5.1 rebounds per game and 2.5 steals per game, which led the Wildcats. Armstrong has stepped into a larger role as the season has progressed, averaging five points per game and is leading the conference in free-throw shooting at 95% (among guys who have taken more than twenty free throws).
Clingan and Karaban are the representatives from UConn, with Clingan averaging 7.6PPG and 5.9 rebounds per game, and finishing second in the conference in field goal percentage at 66.2%. Karaban makes this list after starting 29/30 games for the Huskies, averaging 9.5PPG on 46% from the field and shooting just under 40% from the three-point line.
Rounding out the all-freshman ream we have AJ Storr and Desmond Claude. It’s no secret to anyone that I’m a huge fan of AJ Storr’s potential, as the 6’6” two-guard has shown tremendous potential in his line season at St. John’s. Storr is averaging 8.7PPG and is shooting over 40% from the three-point line, but has really stepped up in conference play, averaging 12.5PPG over the last 14 games for the Red Storm.
Desmond Claude rounds out this list, functioning as another swiss army knife-type do-it-all wing for the Musketeers. Claude has taken a much larger role later in the season and is averaging 5.9PPG, 3.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game off the bench for the Musketeers over their last ten games.
Ok, now it’s time to get to the individual awards.
Starting off with the Big East Sportsmanship Award, the winner was Villanova’s, Caleb Daniels. Daniels was next up on the list of All-Conference teams, and it’s only right he gets this award. The veteran guard has kept playing throughout what has to have been a really tough season for the Wildcats, with various injuries holding their season back. Daniels has never complained though and kept playing, averaging 14.5 points per game and a team-leading 2.5 assists per game, with Moore not having played enough games to be qualified. Daniels has played the most minutes on this Villanova team by a longshot and never complained even when having to run the offense, something he hadn’t ever done in his college career.
The Sixth Man of the Year Award was won by Marquette’s David Joplin, who has been a really consistent scoring threat for the Golden Eagles off of the bench. Joplin is fifth on the team in scoring, averaging 9.2PPG in his sophomore season, shooting over 40% from the field and 38% from three. He’s a microwave off of the bench, capable of scoring outbursts at any time, including a 28-point performance over DePaul, a 21-point performance against Purdue and totaled 19 points in Marquette’s drubbing over Baylor earlier this season.
The Big East’s Most Improved Player of the Year award went to Joel Soriano. A well-deserved honor for the senior from Yonkers, who is tied for the nation's lead in double-doubles with Zach Edey. His averages skyrocketed from 6.4PPG and 5.5RPG a season ago to 15.2PPG and 11.8 rebounds per game, which put him fourth in the country in rebounds. He’s been a dominant force for St. John’s this season and looks like a completely different player this season.
Lastly, the Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award yet again goes to Ryan Kalkbrenner. Kalkbrenner is the first back-to-back recipient of this award since former Bluejay Khryi Thomas did so in 2016-17 and 2017-18. Kalkbrenner is the anchor to the best defense in the conference according to KenPom, leading the conference with 2.2 blocks per game. The bluejays don’t force many turnovers, but they are excellent at funneling opponents into Kalkbrenner and making them score over the 7’1” center, which teams do with little success.
These are all of the awards that have been announced to date, with the Freshman of the Year, Coach of the Year and Player of the Year to be announced on Wednesday.