Big East Baller Update No. 22(ish): A recognition of the senior class

UConn defeats Seton Hall 62-52 at Madison Square Garden in front of a sold out crowd, March 10, 2022. UConn will now move on to the semi-final stage in the Big East Tournament. Photo by Kevin Lindstrom/The Daily Campus

It has been a month since the Kansas University Jayhawks men’s basketball team and the University of South Carolina Gamecocks women’s basketball team won the national title, but so much has changed between the coaching staff and the rosters.

As college basketball turns into the transfer portal stock market and the 2021-22 academic year (for college students) comes to a close, let us take a moment to recognize the departing seniors, outgoing transfers and players declaring for the National Basketball Association draft of all 11 Big East basketball teams by their career highlights.

Writer’s Note: Congratulations to outgoing Villanova head coach Jay Wright on a Hall of Fame coaching career. Wishing for nothing but the best in retirement.

Butler University Bulldogs:

Aaron Thompson: The veteran leader whose offensive prowess and calming presence helped the team win over the years.

Ty Groce: The Eastern Michigan University transfer was a pivotal bench player late in the season.

Bryce Nze: Nze’s nice rebounding (1,001 boards in his career) will be severely missed next season.

Bryce Golden: Golden is a legitimate threat in the paint, which sets him up for success at Loyola University Chicago under Drew Valentine.

Jair Bolden: Bolden was a threat from beyond the arc and has NBA G-League potential.

University of Connecticut Huskies:

RJ Cole: The All-Big East First Team member was indeed the bad man everyone envisioned him to be.

Tyrese Martin: A Dan Hurley product at the University of Rhode Island and then UConn, Martin played as a guard but possesses the rebounding abilities and dunks of a forward.

Tyler Polley: The former Big East Sixth Man of the Year whose three-point skills helped him catch fire on numerous occasions.

Isaiah Whaley: The wrench, the glue guy, the block monster and one of the most enthusiastic players UConn’s ever had.

Matt Garry: A noted Daily Campus writer, walk-on and fan favorite who finishes his UConn career with two points.

Creighton University Bluejays:

Alex O’Connell: O’Connell had a breakout season as the veteran presence leading a young Bluejay unit.

Ryan Hawkins: The Northwest Missouri State University transfer is a true winner, having lost 18 career games across two schools.

Keyshawn Feazell: Feazell has talent and potential when it comes to his defensive abilities.

DePaul University Blue Demons:

Javan Johnson: Three words: underrated point collector (7.1 PPG).

Javon Freeman-Liberty: Freeman-Liberty became Tony Stubblefield’s first true superstar and is the conference’s most NBA-ready player.

Brandon Johnson: Down the stretch, B. Johnson was a part of the Blue Demons’ success on the boards.

Georgetown University Hoyas:

Kaiden Rice: Rice thrived from beyond the arc and will make a living as a perimeter scoring threat.

Donald Carey: Carey improved tremendously on a young Hoyas squadron (13.5 PPG), and it paid off in a big way.

Marquette University Golden Eagles:

Darryl Morsell: While Justin Lewis broke out and became a superstar, Morsell was another piece of the puzzle in Shaka Smart’s master plan.

Kur Kuath: What Kuath lacked in scoring (5.6 PPG) he made up for in rejecting shots (2.5 BPG).

Greg Elliott: Elliott had a career season (7.0 PPG), and it sets him up for success wherever he transfers to.

Providence College Friars:

Nate Watson: Back-to-back seasons as an All-Big East Second Team member do not speak enough to how much of a dual threat this man was.

Noah Horchler: A secret weapon from beyond the arc and on the boards with locks of hair that only Noah Syndergaard can rival.

Al Durham: Exit light, enter night; take my hand because he’s heading off to the NBA.

AJ Reeves: Reeves is dangerous when it comes to both setting up and finishing plays at the basket.

Seton Hall University Pirates:

Jared Rhoden: Rhoden finished with an All-Big East First Team selection and has the potential to get the Pirates represented in the NBA draft for the second straight year.

Ike Obiagu: A towering defenseman who blocked shots like a goaltender.

Bryce Aiken: When he finds his way to the NBA, I hope he never misses a shot.

Myles Cale: Cale was a mobile threat and a consistent scoring machine during his five seasons.

Alexis Yetna: The University of South Florida transfer (8.1 PPG and 7.6 RPG) has a lot of upside worthy of the G-League.

St. John’s University Red Storm:

Julian Champagnie: One of the best all-around basketball players in Queens who could join his brother Justin in the G-League.

Aaron Wheeler: The Connecticut native, playing closer to home, took the skills he learned from Purdue University head coach Matt Painter and turned them into his best season yet.

Villanova University Wildcats:

Collin Gillespie: His accolades -two-time Big East Player of the Year and 2022 Bob Cousy Award winner- speak for themselves when it comes to Gillespie’s overall style of play and leadership abilities.

Jermaine Samuels: Samuels’ career trajectory into an elite starting forward gives him the potential to succeed in the NBA just like Saddiq Bey, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Jalen Brunson.

Xavier University Musketeers:

Paul Scruggs: Scruggs mopped the floor when it came to scoring and I cannot wait to see what he does professionally once he recovers from his torn ACL.

Nate Johnson: Johnson was an impact player who never missed a beat and proved to be a key player in the Musketeer’s National Invitational Tournament title run.

I would have included all of the underclassmen who are transferring out of the conference, from Xavier’s Dwon Odom (Georgia State University) to UConn’s Jalen Gaffney (Florida Atlantic University), but they have the rest of their collegiate careers ahead of them.

I truly am going to miss all of the Big East’s departing players, especially the seniors that impacted their team’s success. Like the graduating members of The Daily Campus, I wish you all good luck on your future endeavors. 

Until next season, this has been a Big East Baller Update.

Leave a Reply