4. Julian Champagnie, G – St. Johns
This All-Big East guard from New York has been averaging 20 points per contest all season. Impressive, obviously, but what puts Julian above most in terms of playing at the next level is his pistol-Pete-like ball-handling skills. I’m not kidding, this cat can handle the rock.
Take a look at this and watch him put this opponent on skates. Sure, he scores and dunks and all that dope stuff each of the players on this list does. But what catches the eye of scouts is how his elite ability to handle the basketball with command can seemingly transition to the NBA. This is what sets him apart.
What is important to understand in this case is that we have a true point guard up for grabs, and those do not come around that often. Julian Champagnie was born to be an NBA point guard, and his time is now.
5. Jared Rhoden, G – Seton Hall
The second guard on our list can also play forward at a moment’s notice. Flexibility is Jared Rhoden’s wheelhouse. Rhoden is also a senior, and with that, obviously brings more experience than perhaps an underclassman who declares for the NBA Draft early.
He has had time to go from the cellar of the conference to contenders over his career at Seton Hall. He stuck with it, saw it out, and prospered. Over a six-game period earlier this season, he averaged over 18 points and seven boards a game while going 16-17 from the foul line.
This kid had game-winning production stats all season long. What is perhaps most attractive here is the maturity and leadership possessed by Rhoden that complement his talent more so than any other prospect in this draft class.
6. Collin Gillespie, G – Villanova
Considered by many to be the best point guard in college basketball, Collin Gillespie brings everything you would want and more as a point guard. The Big East player of the year, or Mr. Villanova, as some refer to him, is a straight-up gym rat with ice in his veins who refuses to go quietly into that good night, as showcased during the Big EastTournament and eventually all the way to the Final Four.
Gillespie is durable. He played most of the season on a bum ankle and still was voted Player of the Year in the Big East and led Nova to a Big East Championship. I watched in awe when he hit back-to-back 3-pointers with under two minutes remaining in the Big East Championship game at Madison Square Garden in prime time to seal the deal. Talk about embracing the moment.
Gillespie proved he is ready for the limelight of the NBA and did so on a massive stage. While Gillespie is not my favorite guard on this list, he is a proven warrior who wants to win more than anyone in the game and is a sure-fire pick in the draft fresh off his Final Four trip.
Will the San Antonio Spurs take a chance one of these talented hoopsters if the opportunity presents itself? Given this historic conferences track record and history of producing NBA stars, they would be crazy not to.
The Big East man, unlike any other. Never change Big East, never change.