Blogger Roundtable: this year's surprise players

I who is the biggest loss? | II who needs to step up? | III who will surprise? | IV most excited to see...? | V who is the future of the program?

The third of five Big East Basketball Roundtables focuses on a player who will surprise the fanbases... in a positive way.

We continue the Roundtable series with a look at players who will make the fans ask each other, "where did that come from?"

There's always a player who comes into the season with low expectations. Sometimes it's because they had no hype coming into college (see: Connecticut's Tyler Olander).

Or because he had so much hype that it was impossible for him not to let the fans down (like Marquette's Vander Blue).

Still others have been relegated to a mental trash heap because of inconsistent/ middling performances his first two or three years (Dominic Cheek of Villanova).

One of those players - or others on the list below - and bound to explode on the Big East scene. Will they become great like Kemba Walker and Marshon Brooks? Will Dominic Cheek become Dominant Cheek? Will Vander Blue put on more happy faces? Will these terrible semi-puns end?

A team-by-team look at players ready to make a huge impression on basketball fans, after the jump. As always, feel free to agree, disagree, or comment below.

Cincinnati Bearcats Blog | @bearcatsblog SURPRISE PLAYER: JaQuon Parker

Everyone and their grandma are predicting big things for Sean Kilpatrick this season, so that's no fun. I'm going to go with Parker. He was in the dog house nearly all of last season. Reports have been that he's looked good this summer. There never seem to be reports that people look bad in the summer, but I digress. Parker could see some minutes, and I think he could turn some heads.

Connecticut TheUConnBlog | @theuconnblog SURPRISE PLAYER: Tyler Olander (photo: Andy Lyons, Getty Images)

Tyler_olander_natl_champ1_mediumWhy the hell not? For a few minutes last year, Olander looked like he was capable of being a Division I player, despite being a relative lightweight (a 225-pound power forward?). This year, I can easily see him turn into that guy who looks like he has no business being on the court yet annoyingly score 6-8 garbage points per game and bloodies a few noses while rebounding.

DePaul Blue Demons Nation | @bluedemonnation SURPRISE PLAYER: Charles McKinney

When he committed to DePaul, a good number of DePaul fans were questioning what the DePaul staff was doing. However, early reports on 6'4 Charles McKinney have been nothing short of glowing. McKinney is a strong level athlete who has a reach of 6'10.5", which will cause havoc in Oliver Purnell's press. Expectations are that his biggest impact will be on the defense side, as he brings a passion on that side of the ball. However, McKinney is a slasher and will provided some highlight moments with his body control.

Georgetown  | SURPRISE PLAYER: Jabril Trawick

Hoya Prospectus Of the returning players, we don't expect large leaps positively. Jason Clark and Henry Sims are developed seniors and we know what to expect (previous answer notwithstanding). Hollis Thompson's numbers will jump, but I'm not sure he'll be a substantially better player -- he'll just be a bigger focus. Markel Starks and Nate Lubick have the benefit of the frosh-soph jump, but while both will be good players, we're not sure either demonstrated a game with the kind of upside that would surprise significantly.

Which brings us to the freshmen. Trawick's the freshman that only hard-core Hoya fans know about, but that will change once play starts. Game-wise, the easy comparison is Pitt's Brad Wanamaker. He's from Philly, he's big, strong, and more of a slasher than a shooter. A 2G in HS, he played very well taking on a lot of point responsibilities in the Kenner Summer League. But what really has Hoya fans excited is his attitude -- he plays hard every play, and plays tough. He's very vocal. So far the team seems to have responded, and I expect the defense to be much more active this year because of it.

Casual Hoya | @casualhoya You don't know who Jabril Trawick is right now, but if he plays like he did during Georgetown's summer league and in China (while he wasn't dodging chairs), he is going to bring some much needed attitude and toughness to Georgetown's backcourt.

Louisville U of L Card Game | @UofLCardGame SURPRISE PLAYER: Mike Marra

It's about time for Michael Marra to live up to the hype coming out of high school when Rick Pitino proclaimed him to be the best three-point shooter he had ever seen. Marra may not start, due to the arrival of heavy-hyped freshman Chane Behanan, and less pressure could be good for Marra.

Marquette | SURPRISE PLAYER: Vander Blue

Cracked Sidewalks | @crackedsidewlks Blue never lived up to the hype of a top-ranked recruit last year, and was one of the least efficient players on the team. But as Al McGuire said, the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores.

Anonymous Eagle | @AnonymousEagle Big things were expected out of the highest-rated high school player to sign at Marquette in 30 years, and in the non-conference season, Vander looked the part. But then the conference season came along, and Blue ran headlong in the dreaded freshman wall: his shot -- never his strong suit to begin with -- abandoned him, he was prone to reckless (and fruitless) drives to the basket, and he too often looked like he was trying to force the issue in his dwindling time on the floor. This year, with Dwight Buycks out of the picture, Blue should get more time with the ball in his hands on offense -- and hopefully he'll use that time to use his impressive playmaking talents to create for others.

Pittsburgh Cardiac Hill | @PittPantherBlog SURPRISE PLAYER: J.J. Moore

Moore showed flashes of being able to score last season, but he looked out of place at times. Having been around the system for a season should make him feel more comfortable this year and without Brad Wanamaker and Gilbert Brown, Pitt will need his point production.


Friar Basketball | @friarbasketball SURPRISE PLAYER: Kadeem Batts

Kadeem Batts who showed flashes as a redshirt freshman a year ago and could become a good inside/out big man for the Friars.

Friarblog@friarblog SURPRISE PLAYER: Kiwi Gardner

Rutgers On The Banks | @Dave_White SURPRISE PLAYER: Austin Johnson

Austin Johnson looks like the light has gone on and he's ready to step up.

Seton Hall South Orange Juice | @SOrangeJuice SURPRISE PLAYER: Aaron Cosby

Incoming freshman, Aaron Cosby has already drawn similarities to Jeremy Hazell for his knack of taking, and hitting, clutch shots.  Cosby was also impressive in limited JSBL play, showing the ability to catch and shoot from the perimeter with confidence and ease.   I'm expecting him to start in the backcourt at SG, joining senior Jordan Theodore, from day one.  

South Florida Voodoo Five | @SBNVoodooFive SURPRISE PLAYER: Victor Rudd

Stan Heath has said that Rudd is the 2nd most talented player he's had on campus, only behind Dominique Jones. He should immediately jump into the starting lineup next month.

St. John's Rumble in the Garden | @RumbleSBN SURPRISE PLAYER: Nurideen Lindsey

If he had qualified, I would have said Amir Garrett - his HS game was simple but he's willing to do everything. Without him, I'll go with Nuri, the Philly scorer/ possible lead guard. Lindsey comes with a number of accolades from those in the know, but barely got much mention (so far) in the national publications. And I don't know if he will surprise, exactly; none of the players have gotten a lot of time on campus. I expect Moe Harkless to have up and down games, I expect D'Angelo Harrison to be a mini-microwave, I expect God'sGift to be strong but limited. Nuri Lindsey is the mystery man, the one who I don't have an early expectation for but from all accounts, he can score a lot. He'll have ample opportunity to. And most of my expectations will be off, anyway.

Syracuse Orange 44 | @BH_Orange44 SURPRISE PLAYER: Trevor Cooney

Incoming freshman Trevor Cooney should be a positive impact on the scoring line. He will instantly remind you of the shooting stroke of Andy Rautins and will be hitting some threes for Syracuse all year. He will also be solid at the top of the 2-3 Zone.

Villanova |
 SURPRISE PLAYER: Dominic Cheek (photo: Chris Troutman, Getty Images)

VUhoops | @Brian_Ewart Probably Cheek, but I think Pinkston or Bell may also emerge this season. Cheek did work in Europe, and I fully suspect that he will break out some offensively this season. The departure of Isaiah Armwood, however, also opens up some frontcourt minutes. It sounds like James Bell (who played the 2 for the U19 national team) might get the starts in Armwood's place at the 4, but Pinkston's bulkier frame may be better suited to succeed in that role. Both are very talented players who have the potential to go on a tear this season.

The Nova Blog | @SBNTheNovaBlog Cheek put together a big Euro trip this summer, pouring in 34 points against the Israeli national basketball team. He looks ready to make the jump that we've all been waiting for.

Villanova By The Numbers Like VUHoops, Cheek, Pinkston and Bell come to mind. Probably Cheek, but I think Pinkston or Bell may also emerge this season. Cheek led the squad in scoring twice in the three game EuroJam Tournament, and posted the most efficient shooting stats on the squad. He does not like to go inside however, and that runs counter to the tradition of Villanova guards. The Big East's reputation for physical play is well earned, and teams that don't score from the lane or get out and rebound can hope for sustained success. Since Dante Cunningham (and the class of 2009) graduated Villanova's defense has not been able to strike that balance of physical defense without fouling. Maybe Pinkston is the answer.

West Virginia The Smoking Musket | @CountryRoadsWV SURPRISE PLAYER: Kevin Noreen

This is almost by default. Unless a light comes on for Deniz Kilicli (and I'm not holding my breath), Noreen, the lone returning sophomore, will have the greatest opportunity to grow into his role. Since his freshman year was cut short due to injury, he has nowhere to go but up. Big and versatile, Noreen should give Huggins a strong option at forward after learning and growing for a year.

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