Bearcats Blog is diving head first into Big East basketball previews starting today. We have a ranking of every player in the league, except Cincinnati's, a Q&A with Raphielle Johnson, and a Cincinnati basketball preview coming before the season opens. Plus, there is a recap of tonight's exhibition game with Northern Kentucky. Action packed hoops week. That's along with West Virginia football coverage. It's going to be busy for this guy.
We start the previews at the center position. This isn't exactly going to the longest list, mainly because every big man wants to be listed as a forward. We live in a versatile age, one in which guys don't go back to the basket that much anymore. Everyone wants to shoot that 15 footer. The following players are listed as centers on their team's official rosters. St John's doesn't list a center, but I asked my friend ECoastBias on twitter, who said God's Gift played center, so he'll be listed there instead of forward. By the way, I'm so jealous God's Gift isn't a Bearcat.
Andre Drummond - Connecticut. As you know, Drummond is the 5 star, top rated player of this class. He's been tabbed the Big East Freshman of the Year by everyone under the sun. He's expected to come in and dominate. It would only be shocking if he didn't. Sometimes guys with a ton of hype fail to produce, like another guy on this list, but Drummond looks like he's can't miss.
Mouphtaou Yarou - Villanova. Yarou really came along last season, becoming one of the better bigs in the league. He put up 8.4, 7.1 boards, and 1 block. He hit 66% of his foul shots as well. He's one of Villanova's leaders this season, and poised to make a big impact. If he can get his FG% on the sunny side of 50%, he can be a dominant force down low. As you will see on this list, there aren't a whole lot of proven bigs. Yarou should be able to have a big year.
Alex Oriakhi - Connecticut. Oriakhi is one of the best returning big men in the league. He put up a healthy 9.6, 8.7, 1.6 blocks as a sophomore. His rebounds per game were second in the league, blocks 7th. He rebounded very well in the NCAA tournament, which has to be an encouraging sign for the Huskies. He had 11 double doubles last season. I look for that number to rise.
Gorgui Dieng - Louisville. The Louisville sophomore returns as one of the top shot blockers in the Big East. Deing was 3rd in the Big East in blocks as a freshman. He's been highly aggressive in the exhibition games. He averaged a modest 6.6, 4.9 in the scoring and rebounding. If he could give the Cardinals more on the glass, and stay out of foul trouble, he could have a big year.
Fab Melo - Syracuse. The highly hyped Melo was the preseason Rookie of the Year, but only put up 2.3 and 1.9 in under 10 minutes a game. Of course his best game might have been against Cincinnati, where he had 6-6-4 blocks. Melo looks to be in good shape to start the season, and is earning praise from teammates. If he can put it together, he can be a force.
God'sgift Achiuwa - St John's. The man with the coolest name in the Big East had an impressive debut last night, with 17 points and 9 rebounds. He can block shots as well, although he didn't get to one last night. He's listed at 6'8, so he's not the biggest guy in the world, but he's got a motor. He put up 22 and 11 as a JUCO last season.
Chris Otule - Marquette. The redshirt junior got his chance to play a lot last season, and took advantage with 55 blocked shots. Otule put up 5.5 points and 3.6 boards a game as well. He makes a high percentage of his shots, 55%. He played 17 minutes a game last year, some as a result of getting a lot of whistles against him, 2.7 a game. Marquette needs him to stay on the floor more.
Baye Moussa Keita - Syracuse. The 6'10 soph averaged 2.2 points and 3.7 boards in his first season. He got around 15 minutes a game. He blocked 46 shots, and had 21 steals, so you can tell defense is his strong suit. He hit less than half of his free throws. With Rick Jackson gone, Baye's minutes are going to go up. He could be someone who turns some heads.
Henry Sims - Georgetown. Sims was one of the first bigs off the bench for Georgetown last season. He only got 14 minutes a game last year, putting up 3.6 points and 3.2 rebounds. He was second on the team with 21 blocks. Sims could be an interesting player this season if his minutes go up. He hit 58% of his shots from the field, and crushed the offensive glass.
Malcolm Gilbert - Pittsburgh. Gilbert is an ESPN top 60 player, and one of the better centers of this year's recruiting class. Gilbert is known as a shot blocking machine, getting 4 a game in high school. He's 6'11 with a monster wingspan. He only averaged 6 points a game in HS, so he's going to have to work on his game. As we saw with Dieng, a guy can come in and be a defensive force right away.
Krys Faber - DePaul. Faber led the Blue Demons in rebounding with 5.3 a year ago. He chipped in 7 points. He put up 9 double doubles as a junior. Most of his great statistical games were in non-conference action, but he had some solid Big East games as well. He's not the flashiest, but he can get the job done.
Bilal Dixon - Providence. Dixon had a modest sophomore season. He could dominate at times, as he did when putting up multiple double doubles, or he could be a non factor. He averaged 5.7 points and 6.4 boards. His rebounding dropped to 4.4 during conference play, and he only had 10 of his 45 blocks in BE action. He's a nice player, but needs to turn it up a few notches.
Derrick Randall - Rutgers. Randall comes to Rutgers as one of the most hyped players in this year's recruiting class. Scout and ESPN had him ranked as the 26th best power forward. He was ranked 119 overall by one service. Randall put up 13 and 8 his senior year. He can block some shots as well. At 6'8, he's an undersized big.
Maurice Sutton - Villanova. Sutton put up 2.4, 1.3 during the season last year, 1.4, 1.6 in Big East play. The junior has not gotten off the bench much in his first two seasons as a Wildcat. He has averaged a block a game in his 2 seasons. Sutton may get more minutes this year.
Tyler Adams - Georgetown. Adams was highly ranked by rivals, 62, coming into this season. According to Casual Hoya, he reportedly battled knee problems thoughout his high school career. He's going to see some minutes in the thin Hoya front line, so staying healthy is a huge key. He was injured for the China trip. If he stays healthy, he could put up something like 5-5. Maybe.
Pat Forsythe - West Virginia. Forsythe came out of nowhere to become a buzzed about prospect last season. ESPN ranked him as the 33rd best center. West Virginia has him listed as 6'11, but the recruiting sites have him at 6'9. Unless he grew over the summer, someone is lying. He put up 22.5, 12.6, 6.1 blocks in HS last season. Mountaineer fans are high on him.
Aaron Geramipoor - Seton Hall. The 6'11 sophomore played in only 16 games last year. He averaged half a point and 1 rebound. He was injured to start the season. He comes from England with a top 75 ranking at power forward. Geramipoor should see some action in every game this year.
Zach Price - Louisville. Price is a 4 star recrcuit by rivals, the 8th ranked center, and the 67th best overall. He's not getting a lot of playing time in the exhibition season. He's got a ton of talent, but the question of how much he's going to play this season could be an issue. That's why I don't have him ranked as highly as he could be.
Michael Bradley - Connecticut. Bradley came to UConn as a 3 star recruit according to rivals. He took a redshirt last season. He was a big time shot blocker in high school. Bradley seems like he could be one of those UConn bigs who is kind of annoying in his rebounding and shot blocking ability.
Derrell Robertson Jr - DePaul. Robertson was the 39th ranked center by ESPN. He put up 21-11-8 blocks in his senior year. He's got an 87 inch wingspan, which sounds pretty impressive. He could be a nice energy sub for the Blue Demons.
Enosch Wolf - Connecticut. Wolf is a 7'1 sophomore from Germany. He didn't produce much last year, 7 games, 1 point, 1 board. He's listed at 245, so it seems like he needs to bulk up.