Early Signing Period Review: Big East
The Big East Conference has some stalwarts at the top of the league every single year. These programs stay at the top because of their ability to recruit. Let’s dive into the conference as we open up the early signing period.
TOP OF THE CLASS: Villanova
Let’s be honest though, are you really surprised? The Wildcats will always be a winner on the recruiting scene because of Jay Wright, his program’s experience, brand value and elite evaluation skills for their program.
This class of 2022 group is no different. We cover all three of their early signees extensively in this piece. What a group they have in Cam Whitmore, Mark Armstrong and Brendan Hausen.
TOP DOG: Cam Whitmore. He’s the clear cut top player coming into the Big East and his stay, to be honest, could be a short one. Signing with Villanova this week, Whitmore is a rare guy amongst his future conference peers. He’s an incredible athlete with prototypical next level wing size. We don’t see too many guys with his length and positional size advantage in college hoops. For the Big East, he instantly becomes a real problem. Nova has had success with long wings of late - most notably Mikal Bridges and Saaqiq Bey. Whitmore could be next. Getting him to Philly was quite a task. Whitmore's recruitment took him to ACC and Big Ten schools but ultimately it was the draw of Villanova's history that put him in the Big East.
THE OUTSIDE OF THE TOP 100 SLEEPER
Creighton bound forward Jasen Green didn’t have to look very far for a place to play in college. The Omaha product decided to stay home and play for the Bluejays. He held offers from the likes of Northwestern, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa State, Wake Forest, Stanford, Kansas State and Nebraska.
He’s a long and lean 6-foot-7 forward who comes from a winning program, is ingrained with the type of ball that Greg McDermott likes to play and should be able to make a smooth transition into the college game. A consensus top 200 player nationally, he could be a prospect that makes an impact that is worthy of inclusion into our top 100 because of the fit and the role that he’ll play for the program. You can never discount a consistent winner and Green is just that.
BEST FRONTCOURT: UConn
It’s not too often when the state of Connecticut has a high-level, homegrown, in-state prospect worth of a scholarship from the famed hometown program. So when Donovan Clingan started to show signs of a high-level prospect, you got the feeling it was inevitable that he would be a Huskie commit. Sure enough, he popped for Danny Hurley and gave the UConn program a legit presence in the middle. A 7-foot-1 center, he’s one of the more impressive big men in the country and an instant impact kind of prospect because of his mix of size and skill.
Joining Clingan is 6-foot-7 Massachusetts native Alex Karaban in the Huskie frontline. Now at IMG Academy, Karaban should be a beneficiary of the intense college prep program at the famed academy in Bradenton. He’s a tough rebounder and a match-up problem because of his ability to stretch the floor.
Together, the pair brings big size, big production and big upside to the interior rotation of the Husky program. Talk about a great 1-2 punch.
BEST BACKCOURT: Villanova
Imagine that. The Wildcats have a tremendous backcourt coming to town. Life off the Main Line is always good with guards and this year’s group is no different. Mark Armstrong has all kinds of fun potential with his game. He’s athletic, exciting and good enough to be on the floor in a variety of roles.
And his future backcourt mate Hausen is an interesting player. More about him in 3, 2, 1…
BEST RECRUITING WIN
Brendan Hausen, to me, is the most interesting prospect recruitment in the class of 2022. After a summer where he saw his recruitment go from hyper-local to true coast-to-coast, Hausen’s visit tour took him to Oregon to Big 12 country and out to Villanova. It was one of the most geographically diverse recruitments in the class of 2022. Hausen pledged to the Wildcats after the visit tour and ended a quick and active recruitment.
HEY, I HAVE A HOOPSEEN CHAPTER
Kam Craft, Xavier. Few guys blew up more at the Grassroots Showcase in April 2021 quite like Craft did. He was simply outstanding. From there, he never let up. The more we saw him play, the more we liked him. The Illinois native was the hot hand from the perimeter for the Mean Streets program. He was an absolute bucket in that setting.
From there, his recruitment took flight and we saw a host of schools turn interest into intent with Craft. He had an active recruitment that came alive after his time in Louisville.
THE THREE THINGS I LIKE THE MOST:
1. As good as Craft should be for Xavier, Tyrell Ward has all of the tools to be the Alpha Dog for Travis Steele. The long and lean and always-improving wing forward has the goods to become a fan favorite at the Cintas Center. Hailing out of the basketball-strong megaplex of Washington D.C., Ward brings an old Big East flavor to the rotation for Xavier. He’s got the talent to be a day one impact player and an all-conference level guy during his career in Cincinnati.
2. St. John’s found guys that should thrive in Mike Anderson’s style of play. AJ Storr and Kolby King both have the length to cause problems in the pressure defense that Anderson likes to employ. Storr could be a All-Conference defensive stopper. Playing at IMG Academy for his senior season, don’t be surprised to see the Illinois native show up in New York ready to play big minutes right away. Talk about a great fit on both sides.
3. I like the trio of Christ Essandoko, Quante Berry and Jayden Pierre for Providence. Essandoko is one of the best recruiting wins on the East Coast. The big man from North Carolina is a presence in the middle, skilled enough to fit into the rotation from day one and big enough to be a problem on both sides of the ball. Also worth noting, two of the players - Essandoko and Berry - are from North Carolina. Assistant coach Jeff Battle is one of the best recruiters in the South.
TOP PG: Mark Armstrong, Villanova
TOP SG: Cameron Whitmore, Villanova
TOP SF: Tyrell Ward, Xavier
TOP PF: Alex Karaban, UConn
TOP C: Donovan Clingan, UConn
TOP CLASS: Villanova
TOP SHOOTER: Kam Craft, Xavier
TOP SCORER: Cameron Whitmore, Villanova
TOP REBOUNDER: Donovan Clingan, UConn
TOP DEFENDER: Sean Jones, Marquette
TOP PRO PROSPECT: Cameron Whitmore, Villanova