Gillespie Named BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year

09 Dec 2021 | 09:58 | Basketball

NEW YORK – Villanova guard Collin Gillespie has been chosen 2021-22 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year by a vote of the league’s head coaches. Georgetown guard Aminu Mohammed has been named BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year. The coaches, who were not permitted to choose their own players, also selected an All-BIG EAST First Team, All-BIG EAST Second Team and All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention.

Gillespie, a 6-3 graduate student from Huntingdon Valley, Pa., is coming off a season when he shared BIG EAST Player of the Year honors with teammate Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Seton Hall’s Sandro Mamukelashvili. In all games, Gillespie averaged 14.0 points and 4.6 assists per game. His assist average ranked third in the BIG EAST and he was first in assist/turnover ratio at 2.9. The Wildcat captain also ranked fifth in free throw shooting, making 83.3 percent. Gillespie is taking advantage of a fifth year of eligibility that was granted by the NCAA due to the effects of the pandemic last season.

Mohammed, considered one of the top prep recruits in the nation, is expected to contribute immediately for Georgetown. The 6-5 guard, who was born in Nigeria, excelled at Greenwood Laboratory School (Mo.) where he won Mr. Show-Me Basketball as a senior. Mohammed earned McDonald’s All-America honors and scored 2,709 career points at Greenwood. He was also a two-time Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year (2020-21, 2018-19).

In addition to Gillespie’s honor, a five-player 2021-22 Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team was named. It includes two players from Xavier and one from Providence, St. John’s and Seton Hall. Xavier guard Paul Scruggs is a unanimous choice and is joined by teammate Zach Freemantle. Last season, Scruggs averaged 14.0 points and ranked first in the BIG EAST with a 5.7 assist average. Last year, Freemantle shared the BIG EAST Most Improved Player award with St. John’s Julian Champagnie. Freemantle, a 6-9 forward, emerged as a prime contributor, averaging 16.1 points, which ranked fifth in the league. He led all conference rebounders with an 8.9 mark in all games and had a league-leading 9.5 in BIG EAST play.

Providence’s Nate Watson, like Gillespie and Scruggs, is embarking on a fifth year of play. Last season, the 6-10, 260-pound center was third in scoring with a 16.9 average and ranked second in field goal shooting, making 60.2 percent. Also a unanimous first team selection, Watson ranked 10th in rebounding at 6.7.

St. John’s Champagnie led the BIG EAST in scoring with a 19.8 average and was the league scoring champion with a 19.5 mark in conference play. A 6-8 wing, Champagnie also ranked first in free throw shooting, connecting at an 88.7 percent clip. The junior was a unanimous All-BIG EAST First Team performer last season.

Seton Hall’s Jared Rhoden emerged as prime contributor last season behind Mamukelashvili. Rhoden ranked ninth in scoring with a 14.9 average and pulled down 6.7 rebounds. An athletic 6-6 senior wing, he was first in free throw shooting in league games, hitting 90.8 percent.

The Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team has two members from Villanova, two from Connecticut and one from St. John’s.

The Villanova standouts are forward Jermaine Samuels and guard Justin Moore. Samuels, a grad student who will be playing his fifth season, is an all-around contributor whose 12.0 scoring average and 6.4 rebounding mark belies his value to the Wildcats. Moore emerged as a threat in the backcourt, averaging 12.9 points and 3.0 assists.

UConn grad student guard R.J. Cole averaged 12.2 points and ranked fifth in the BIG EAST in assists with a 4.3 mark. Senior guard Tyrese Martin helped the Huskies to their NCAA berth last March by averaging 10.3 points and a team-leading 7.5 boards.

St. John’s Posh Alexander was the BIG EAST Freshman of the Year and shared BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year honors with UConn’s Isaiah Whaley. Alexander averaged 10.3 points, 4.3 assists and a league-leading 2.6 steals.

A pair of sophomores, Butler guard Chuck Harris and UConn forward Adama Sanogo, were named All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention. Both were BIG EAST All-Freshman Team performers last season.

2021-22 BIG EAST Preseason Honors

BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year

Collin Gillespie, Villanova, G, Gr., 6-3, 195, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.

BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year

Aminu Mohammed, Georgetown, G, Fr., 6-5, 210, Temple Hills, Md.

Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team

Nate Watson, Providence, C, Gr., 6-10, 260, Portsmouth, Va.*

Julian Champagnie, St. John’s, G-F, Jr., 6-8, 215, Brooklyn, N.Y.*

Jared Rhoden, Seton Hall, G-F, Sr., 6-6, 210, Baldwin, N.Y.

Paul Scruggs, Xavier, G, Sr., 6-4, 196, Indianapolis, Ind.*

Zach Freemantle, Xavier, F, Jr., 6-9, 216, Teaneck, N.J.

Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team

R.J. Cole, Connecticut, F, Gr., 6-1, 185, Union, N.J.

Tyrese Martin, Connecticut, G, Sr., 6-6, 215, Allentown, Pa.

Posh Alexander, St. John’s, G, So., 6-0, 200, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Justin Moore, Villanova, G, Jr., 6-4, 210, Fort Washington, Md.

Jermaine Samuels, Villanova, F, Gr., 6-7, 230, Franklin, Mass.

Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention

Chuck Harris, Butler, G, So., 6-2, 190, Ashburn, Va.

Adama Sanogo, Connecticut, F, So., 6-9, 240, Bamako, Mali

Get Informed

Quickly coordinate e-business applications through revolutionary catalysts for change. Seamlessly underwhelm optimal testing procedures processes.