2023-24 College Basketball Conference Preview: Big East Fantasy Outlook

2023-24 College Basketball Conference Preview: Big East Fantasy Outlook

This article is part of our Conference Preview series.

In 2022-23, the Big East supplied the national champion UConn Huskies and five tournament teams. The top echelon remains similar for 2023-24, with Villanova poised to take Xavier's spot as a top-5 squad. St. John's and Georgetown underwent notable revamps.

UConn's bid to become the first back-to-back national champion since Florida in 2006 and 2007 will occur without Jordan Hawkins, Andre Jackson and Adamo Sanogo after the trio moved on to the NBA. Donovan Clingan (foot) remains. He profiles as a top center in the 2024 NBA Draft.

Tyler Kolek and Osasere Ighodaro fueled Marquette to a 2023 Big East Tournament championship, and the Golden Eagles will bring back much of the same team — with the critical exception of wing Olivier-Maxence Prosper.

Creighton retains a core of Trey Alexander, Baylor Scheierman and Ryan Kalkbrenner, while replacing Ryan Nembhard (transferred to Gonzaga) with Steven Ashworth from Utah State.

UConn will add arguably the top two prospects in the conference in five-star point guard Stephon Castle and four-star guard Solomon Ball. Garwey Dual at Providence, Simeon Wilcher at St. John's and Trey Green at Xavier are also impact freshmen.

Let's take a closer look at how these pieces fall into place in the fantasy landscape.

Top Players

Scoring

Bryce Hopkins, PF, Providence: Hopkins ranked seventh in the Big East with 15.8 points per game while leading the conference in free-throw attempts last season. With no serious competition inbound, his full scoring diet and 34.9 minutes per game

In 2022-23, the Big East supplied the national champion UConn Huskies and five tournament teams. The top echelon remains similar for 2023-24, with Villanova poised to take Xavier's spot as a top-5 squad. St. John's and Georgetown underwent notable revamps.

UConn's bid to become the first back-to-back national champion since Florida in 2006 and 2007 will occur without Jordan Hawkins, Andre Jackson and Adamo Sanogo after the trio moved on to the NBA. Donovan Clingan (foot) remains. He profiles as a top center in the 2024 NBA Draft.

Tyler Kolek and Osasere Ighodaro fueled Marquette to a 2023 Big East Tournament championship, and the Golden Eagles will bring back much of the same team — with the critical exception of wing Olivier-Maxence Prosper.

Creighton retains a core of Trey Alexander, Baylor Scheierman and Ryan Kalkbrenner, while replacing Ryan Nembhard (transferred to Gonzaga) with Steven Ashworth from Utah State.

UConn will add arguably the top two prospects in the conference in five-star point guard Stephon Castle and four-star guard Solomon Ball. Garwey Dual at Providence, Simeon Wilcher at St. John's and Trey Green at Xavier are also impact freshmen.

Let's take a closer look at how these pieces fall into place in the fantasy landscape.

Top Players

Scoring

Bryce Hopkins, PF, Providence: Hopkins ranked seventh in the Big East with 15.8 points per game while leading the conference in free-throw attempts last season. With no serious competition inbound, his full scoring diet and 34.9 minutes per game aren't going anywhere. Notably, Hopkins shot just 56.1 percent at the rim last season, subpar for his archetype and frame.

Kameron Jones, SF, Marquette: With a case to be one of the top left-handed finishers in the country, the 6-foot-5 Jones is instant offense for Marquette. He makes tough buckets and can also flow within the Golden Eagles offense. Threes and shots at the rim accounted for 93.1 percent of his attempts. He delivered at a high level, shooting 36.0 percent and 69.6 percent, respectively. 

Also Considered: Ryan Kalkbrenner, C, Creighton; Tyler Burton, F, Villanova; Tyler Kolek, G, Marquette; Baylor Scheierman, G, Creighton

Rebounding

Joel Soriano, C, St. John's: Soriano gathered 20.9 percent of St. John's rebounds last season. The Red Storm should create excellent rim pressure to set up Soriano as a constant putback threat. While Harvard transfer Chris Ledlum is an active rebounder at power forward, Soriano's game might still be growing. Blending last season's dominant rebounding with 2021-22's 9.9 percent block rate (5.5 percent last season) would constitute the leap.

Baylor Scheierman, PF, Creighton: Scheierman averaged 8.3 rebounds per game last season. He was a consistent and effective on the defensive boards with 271 of his 307 rebounds coming on the defensive end. His rebounding activity forms an elite floor.

Also Considered: Donovan Clingan, C, Connecticut; Bryce Hopkins, F, Providence; Ryan Kalkbrenner, C, Creighton; Supreme Cook, F, Georgetown; Osasere Ighodaro, F, Marquette; Tyler Burton, F, Villanova; Josh Oduro, F, Providence; Eric Dixon, F, Villanova

Assists

Tyler Kolek, PG, Marquette: Kolek is one of the best true point guards in the nation. His 39.8 percent assist rate was fourth highest in the country last season. Of all Power 5 schools, only Markquis Nowell logged more pick-and-roll possessions than Kolek last season. The hard-nosed Kolek has the keys to Marquette.

Also Considered: Dayvion McKnight, G, Xavier; Steven Ashworth, G, Creighton; Tristen Newton, G, Connecticut; Kadary Richmond, G, Seton Hall; Posh Alexander, G, Butler; Daniss Jenkins, G, St. John's; Jayden Pierre, G, Providence, Caleb Murphy, G, DePaul

Center

Ryan Kalkbrenner, Creighton: Kalkbrenner climbed to 76.5 percent shooting at the rim last season, and his three-point shot could be a real threat by season's end. The 7-1 senior averaged 15.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game last season — his second consecutive campaign with 34 starts. 

Donovan Clingan, UConn: A behemoth of a man, Clingan can't be denied at times around the basket. His screening needs to improve and polishing his left hand is important, but his 14.4 percent block rate would've ranked third in the nation (behind Liam Robbins and ahead of Dereck Lively) if Clingan had he qualified.

Also Considered: Joel Soriano, C, St. John's; Osasere Ighodaro, C, Marquette; Eric Dixon, F, Villanova; Mac Etienne, F, DePaul, Abou Ousmane, F, Xavier

Freshman

Stephon Castle, SG, UConn: Castle joins UConn as a 6-6 guard but should be utilized as a lineup chess piece with his ability to facilitate from the wings and defend some forwards. Castle is a fluid athlete who could be a capable three-level scorer by season's end. He has NBA-lottery upside.

Also Considered: Simeon Wilcher, G, St. John's; Solomon Ball, G, Connecticut; Garwey Dual, G, Providence; Trey Green, G, Xavier; Jayden Ross, F, Connecticut; Brady Dunlap, F, St. John's

Transfers

Steven Ashworth, PG, Creigton: Utah State attempted the 62nd most threes per total shots last season, while Creighton ranked 68th. Ashworth staying in a well-spaced, three-point barrage should be a seamless transition. He's a defensive downgrade for the Blue Jays, but Ashworth is a multi-dimensional offensive threat and elite shooter. Hitting 48.4 percent of his off-the-dribble threes is a staggering figure unrivaled in the country last season.

TJ Bamba, SG, Villanova: Bamba blossomed into a physical scorer with some self-creation ability last season. His shooting has continuously evolved (37.2 percent on 4.8 3PA last season) and he's building steam as a fringe NBA prospect. He's a two-way difference-maker on the wings.

Cam Spencer, SF, UConn: Spencer is a do-it-all addition. He connected on 46.0 percent of 144 catch-and-shoot threes last season, posted a 104:46 AST:TO ratio and racked up 2.0 steals per game (3.9 percent steal rate ranked 44th in the nation). The big-bodied wing should be a smooth incorporation to UConn's offense. 

Jordan Dingle, SG St. John's: Dingle comes to St. John's after consuming 32.1 percent of Penn's possessions last season when he was one the court.  The 6-3 scorer is a physical guard with some craft, as opposed to a slithery athlete with elite finishing. How much regression will he experience versus a jump in competition? Regardless, he'll find ways to contribute as a super active cutter with ambidexterity and microwave upside as a shooter. His in-between game off screens and curls is a strength. 

Also Considered: Quincy Olivari, G, Xavier; Tyler Burton, F, Villanova; Dayvion McKnight, G, Xavier

Sleepers

Glenn Taylor, F, St. John's: Taylor's exact role on the wing for St. John's is to be determined, but he profiles as an offensive force if his three-point stroke can incrementally grow. Taylor posted a 59.8 free throw rate last season — averaging .598 free throws for every shot he takes — which ranked 45th in the country.

Devin Carter, SG, Providence: An opportunistic and hounding defender, Carter is a high-energy wing and an active rebounder. However, he also posted an 81:50 AST:TO ratio last season. Another element of his 2022-23 campaign was a slight uptick to 29.9 percent three-point shooting. His underlying 33.3 percent clip on catch-and-shoot attempts, as well as a 37.1 percent clip on open looks, bodes well for continuing growth. He stuffed the stat sheet with 13.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.1 blocks across 33 games, but developing into a secondary facilitator for Providence is what would launch his breakout.

Mark Armstrong, PG, Villanova: Armstrong is a defense-first contributor at this point, but growing into Villanova's top facilitator remains possible. The 2022 four-star prospect was a floor general for Team USA's U19 FIBA World Cup squad, posting an 18:6 AST:TO ratio and shooting 56.8 percent at the rim. His ceiling is limited until the jumper forms.

Top-10 Players*

  1. TJ Bamba, SG, Villanova
  2. Tyler Kolek, PG, Marquette
  3. Bryce Hopkins, PF, Providence
  4. Donovan Clingan, C, UConn
  5. Joel Soriano, C, St. John's
  6. Steven Ashworth, PG, Creighton
  7. Cam Spencer, SF, UConn
  8.  Baylor Scheierman, PF, Creighton
  9. Eric Dixon, C, Villanova
  10. Kadary Richmond, SF, Seton Hall

*Note: These rankings are at the discretion of the article author, and may not necessarily correspond with RotoWire's 2023-24 player rankings.

Projected Team Standings

1. Villanova -  Bamba, Hakim Hart and Tyler Burton transferring in — from Washington State, Maryland and Richmond, respectively — gives Villanova top-tier wings. Wings are a luxury for yielding two-way stability. Overall, the playmaking isn't flashy and the frontcourt is undersized, but Villanova is systematically turnover-averse and Lance Ware (Kentucky transfer) is a candidate to step up defensively. The Wildcats have a shot to win the conference but should be locked in as a top-4 finisher.

2. Marquette - The playmaking and offensive blueprint enabled by Kolek and Ighodaro makes Marquette tough to defend in the half court. After ranking as a top-10 team in the country last season, five of the core six players return. Depth and a lack of physicality inside are serious issues, but chemistry and consistency are serious strengths. Kameron Jones can fill it up and David Joplin (9.2 points, 39.9 percent three-point shooting) is on the rise after averaging just 19.8 minutes per game last season. 

3. Creighton - Kalkbrenner's rim protection is an X-Factor for Creighton and an advantage over Marquette and Villanova. Ashworth, Alexander and Schierman is one of the best shooting trios in the country. If Ashworth and Kalkbrenner can build chemistry, the Creighton offense should perform similarly to last year's Elite 8 run. The Blue Jays are built for the postseason.

4. UConn - The health of Clingan, who sprained his foot in September, is pivotal. UConn has time for him to heal, but foot problems are troublesome for bigs … Clingan's NBA future might take priority at some point. If all goes well in that regard, the 7-1 anchor joins championship-tested Tristen Newton and Alex Karaban, as well as impact transfer Cam Spencer and an injection of promising youth to form a reliable squad.

5. St. John's - Joel Soriano is the only holdover from last season's 18-15 squad, as 10 transfers join the roster under a full revamp by new coach Rick Pitino. Coming from Iona, Pitino brings point guard Daniss Jenkins to be his offensive orchestrator. Jenkins posted a 171:76 AST:TO ratio last season and is set to play alongside foul-drawing machines Jordan Dingle (Penn) and Glenn Taylor (Oregon State). The division of on-ball possessions between this trio will be worth monitoring, but off-ball actions to set up downhill drives have awesome schematic upside. Chris Ledlum (Harvard) also loves getting to the basket, but the real difference-making attribute is his 31.9 percent combined rebounding rate — fringe top-100 in the country last season. Ledlum combined with RJ Luis (Massachusetts) gives St. John's defensive versatility. Pitino's roster construction was well-balanced and talent-infusing. If the personnel click, the Red Storm are a threat.

6. Providence - Hopkins' volume scoring salvages Providence offensively. The playmaking of Jared Bynum (transferred to Stanford) and the rebounding of now-graduated Ed Croswell don't leave major holes, but the holes weren't filled. Devin Carter was one of the best transition players in the country last season. He or Jayden Pierre making a facilitating leap would be huge. New coach Kim English brings forward Davonte Gaines and center Josh Oduro with him from George Mason. Oduro making an impact as a two-way rim presence is a swing factor for Providence climbing into the top 5.

7. Seton Hall - Seton Hall ranked 306th in the country last season with a 20.1 percent turnover rate. Kadary Richmond is the only returner to have posted a positive AST/TO ratio in 2022-23 and even he logged a turnover on 20.2 percent of his possessions. The offense lacks dynamic upside, but top transfer addition Dylan Addae-Wusu is a two-way asset and forms a nationally underrated defensive pairing with Richmond. New center Elijah Hutchins-Everett is a defensive liability, but the 6-11, 255, transfer from Austin Peay has offensive versatility and could be a quality pick-and-roll partner. The Pirates earned the second highest free-throw rate and opponent field-goal percentage in the conference last season. They've doubled down on the recipe of free-throws and defense, and it's a pretty good formula despite this seventh-place estimation. 

8. Xavier - With Zach Freemantle (foot) expected to out all of 2023-24 season, Xavier's lynchpin can't help fill the void of Colby Jones, Jack Nunge, Souley Boum and Adam Kunkel graduating to the pros. Xavier's size in the frontcourt could create problems for opponents, but offensive efficiency is a total question.

9. Butler - Retooling an offense around a point guard who can't shoot comes with serious limitations in offensive creativity. Posh Alexander's clamping defense and willingness to facilitate are nice, but he turned the ball over on 16.0 percent of his pick-and-roll possessions last season — ranking in the 24th percentile nationwide. Alexander still ranked in the 70th percentile for overall efficiency, but Butler's bigs are less skilled/less proven than the cast Alexander had last season at St. John's. Transfer Jahmyl Telfort, Landon Moore and DJ Davis could all prove to be valuable additions, but the ceiling for the Bulldogs feels low.

10. Georgetown - Coach Ed Cooley is guiding another Big East revamp in his first season at Georgetown. Transfers Rowan Brumbaugh (Texas), Ismael Massoud (Kansas State) and Jayden Epps (Illinois) represent pedigree additions, though none have operated in a starter's workload before. Perhaps the most intriguing is Brumbaugh. A 6-4 floor general, as a prospect he was well-regarded for his offensive processing, but he spent last season as a redshirt freshman. Jay Heath (12.3 points on 41.5/37.3/76.6 percent shooting in 2022-23) is the only notable supporting cast member returning.

11. Depaul - Despite a 10-23 record last season, DePaul is losing numerous quality contributors in Umoja Gibson, Javan Johnson and Nick Ongenda. Jalen Terry is the only starter returning. Pairing him with Chico Carter sets the stage for shooting upside. Highlighted by Carter's 47.6 percent clip on 4.1 threes per game last season, Terry, Jaden Henley and Jeremiah Oden combined to shoot 35.8 percent from deep. Mac Etienne (UCLA transfer) is a fine system big. Even then, Consider Depaul a lock for a bottom-3 spot in the conference.

Projected Team Rotations

First NameLast NameSchoolPosition
DJDavisButlerG
PoshAlexanderButlerG
LandonMooreButlerG
JalenThomasButlerF
JahmylTelfortButlerF
PierreBrooksButlerF
AndreScreenButlerC
FinleyBizjackButlerG
BaylorScheiermanCreightonG
FranciscoFarabelloCreightonG
TreyAlexanderCreightonG
StevenAshworthCreightonG
JohnathanLawsonCreightonF
MasonMillerCreightonF
RyanKalkbrennerCreightonC
ChicoCarterDePaulG
CalebMurphyDePaulG
JalenTerryDePaulG
JeremiahOdenDePaulF
Da'SeanNelsonDePaulF
JadenHenleyDePaulF
ElijahFisherDePaulG
ZionCruzDePaulG
MacEtienneDePaulC
JaydenEppsGeorgetownG
JayHeathGeorgetownG
SupremeCookGeorgetownF
IsmaelMassoudGeorgetownF
WayneBristolGeorgetownG
DontrezStylesGeorgetownC
RowanBrumbaughGeorgetownG
RyanMutomboGeorgetownC
TylerKolekMarquetteG
KamJonesMarquetteG
ChaseRossMarquetteG
StevieMitchellMarquetteG
BenGoldMarquetteF
OsoIghodaroMarquetteF
DavidJoplinMarquetteF
JaydenPierreProvidenceG
DevinCarterProvidenceG
DavonteGainesProvidenceG
CoreyFloydProvidenceG
GarweyDualProvidenceG
BryceHopkinsProvidenceF
JoshOduroProvidenceF
WilliamMcNairProvidenceF
KadaryRichmondSeton HallG
Al-AmirDawesSeton HallG
DylanAddae-WusuSeton HallG
DreDavisSeton HallG
ElijahHutchins-EverettSeton HallF
JadenBediakoSeton HallF
JaquanSandersSeton HallG
JoelSorianoSt. John'sC
DanissJenkinsSt. John'sG
JordanDingleSt. John'sG
RJLuisSt. John'sF
NaheimAlleyneSt. John'sF
ChrisLedlumSt. John'sF
GlennTaylorSt. John'sF
CruzDavisSt. John'sG
TristenNewtonUConnG
CamSpencerUConnG
StephonCastleUConnG
AlexKarabanUConnF
DonovanClinganUConnC
HassanDiarraUConnG
SolomonBallUConnG
SamsonJohnsonUConnF
JustinMooreVillanovaG
TJBambaVillanovaG
HakimHartVillanovaG
ChrisArcidiaconoVillanovaG
TylerBurtonVillanovaF
EricDixonVillanovaF
LanceWareVillanovaF
JordanLonginoVillanovaG
MarkArmstrongVillanovaG
DayvionMcKnightXavierG
QuincyOlivariXavierG
DesmondClaudeXavierG
KamCraftXavierG
ZachFreemantleXavierF
AbouOusmaneXavierF
TreyGreenXavierG
JeromeHunterXavierF

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Henry Weinberg
Henry is a sports writer and analyst, specializing in NBA analysis, CBB coverage and draft prep. He's a freelance scout, passionate baseball fan, elite fantasy football player and former Butler Bulldog.
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