Yesterday we ranked the point guards of the Big East, and while many of those same players qualify as combo guards, we are going to exclude them from this list so we can recognize 10 other names. Many of these guys will shoulder the ball handling duties from time to time, but more often than not, they will be playing off the ball – hence the ‘combo guards’ label.
1. Bryce Cotton – Providence
Cotton led the Big East in scoring last year as a junior with 19.7 PPG, an incredible feat given that Russ Smith was a member of that conference. Cotton has improved his output every year, and he’ll likely have to up his total again this year if he is to repeat as scoring champion with Doug McDermott now in the conference.
2. D’Angelo Harrison – St. John’s
Harrison has had his issues over the years, including being suspended from the team for the final few games of the season last year, but all indications suggest he is back on good terms with the team. That is clutch because the Johnnies will need his near 18 PPG if they are to make a run at a Big East title.
3. Grant Gibbs – Creighton
Only two players in the country last year compiled at least 300 points, 200 assists and 145 rebounds, and one of them was Gibbs. Now in his sixth year, Gibbs is regarded as one of the best ‘glue guys’ in the country and possesses an incredible basketball knowledge.
4. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera – Georgetown
DSR averaged 8.9 PPG as a freshman last year, but has been talked up by JT3 over the summer as making big strides in his game. Known has a sharpshooter coming out of high school, Smith-Rivera could be in for a big sophomore season, and the Hoyas will need it.
5. Kellen Dunham – Butler
Dunham is big for a guard (6-foot-6), but he isn’t flashy. He can however fill up the stat sheet. As a freshman he averaged 9.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. The Bulldogs need someone to step up this season, and that someone should be Dunham.
6. Phil Greene IV – St. John’s
Greene split the point guard duties with Harrison last season, but neither should have to worry about that this year with Rysheed Jordan in town. While Greene’s playing time may dip a bit, his overall efficiency should improve now that he won’t be relied upon to be the team’s primary facilitator. He finished with 10.1 PPG as a sophomore, but shot less than 40% from the field. Look for that to improve this season.
7. Dee Davis – Xavier
As Semaj Christon’s back court mate, Davis averaged 8.2 PPG last season as a sophomore. With an improved Musketeer lineup, Davis should find better opportunities to score this year.
8. Todd Mayo – Marquette
Mayo had a rough sophomore season last year that started with him being ruled ineligible for the team’s first 10 games. But someone needs to pick up the scoring slack left by the departures of Vander Blue and Junior Cadougan, and Mayo has the potential to fill that void. Being an every day starter should help.
9. Myles Davis – Xavier
If Dee Davis isn’t getting it done for the Musketeers, then look for red shirt freshman Myles Davis to pick up the slack. The terrific shooter was highly regarded coming out of high school, but had to sit out last year after being ruled ineligible by the NCAA. He should make an immediate impact this season for Xavier.
10. JaJuan Johnson – Marquette
Just with the Davis situation at Xavier, if Mayo isn’t getting it done for the Golden Eagles, then it will likely be the freshman Johnson, a top-50 prospect. But given the way that Buzz Williams likes to substitute like hockey line changes, it’s more likely that the combined production of the two is the most ideal outcome. And with the talented front court that Marquette will sport this season, it should create lots of good scoring opportunities for the guards on the outside.