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November 22, 2007

Louisville standing tall in the Big East

The nation's top-ranked prospect is coming to the Big East, and another school in the conference is putting together one of the best incoming frontlines in the country.

In 1992, Othella Harrington left Mississippi for Georgetown. In 2007, Greg Monroe is leaving the Deep South for the Hoyas, too. Harrington has played 11 years in the NBA, and Monroe is hoping he can springboard himself from the Big East school to the professional ranks, too.

Georgetown hopes the big man from Louisiana helps the Hoyas win a National Championship. It won't be easy. The conference is bringing in one of the best freshman classes in the nation.

The Louisville Cardinals are building a dominating front line. Five-stars Samardo Samuels and Terrence Jennings give Rick Pitino some power and athleticism inside.

The Cardinals are also in good with Tyreke Evans, the best college-bound player still uncommitted in the class of 2008. If Evans does ink with Louisville, the Cardinals will more than likely jump to the top overall spot in the country, bypassing Wake Forest and UCLA.

Connecticut has performed well with Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins in the backcourt, but the Huskies may be in line for an upgrade with the nation's 19th ranked class coming to Storrs. The group is just two players deep, but point guard Kemba Walker and shooting guard Nate Miles are the top players at their positions coming into the league.

Biggest recruiting coup

Transient big man Terrence Jennings has bounced from high school to high school and from coast to coast. So it didn't come as a big surprise when he reneged on his early commitment to Maryland. A month later, he pledged to Louisville.

Now at Notre Dame Prep (Mass.), Jennings boosted Louisville's class from good to great. Pair the five-star prospect with Samardo Samuels, and the Cardinals could potentially have the best 1-2 punch down low in Rick Pitino's reign at the Big East school.

Budding rivalry

Best of the Big East
Best perimeter scorer: Mike Rosario, Rutgers
Best low post scorer: Samardo Samuels, Louisville
Best passer: Kemba Walker, UConn
Best shooter: Mike Rosario, Rutgers
Best rebounder: Samardo Samuels, Louisville
Best shot-blocker: Greg Monroe, Georgetown
Best defender: Tyshawn Taylor, Marquette
Most versatile: Mookie Jones, Syracuse
Best in the clutch: Kemba Walker, UConn
Best basketball IQ: Greg Monroe, Georgetown
Best pro prospect: Greg Monroe, Georgetown
Best speed: Jordan Theodore, Seton Hall
Best hands: Greg Monroe, Georgetown
Best motor: Samardo Samuels, Louisville
Best strength: Samardo Samuels, Louisville
Best leaper: Terrence Jennings, Louisville
Impact player: Greg Monroe, Georgetown
Biggest sleeper: Roscoe Davis, West Virginia
Sleeper class: Rutgers
For the time being, St. Anthony guards Mike Rosario, Tyshawn Taylor and Travon Woodall are aiming for a title at the New Jersey Tournament of Champions. A year and a half from now, all three could face each other in the Big East conference tournament.

Rosario signed with Rutgers, Taylor is headed to Marquette and Woodall signed with Pittsburgh. The teammates all bring grittiness, defensive abilities and scoring prowess. Their tutelage under Bob Hurley, Sr., will help them make the transition to the college game.

Biggest miss

St. John's needs a shot in the arm in the worst way. A major recruiting coup from the fertile recruiting grounds of the Northeast would have certainly helped. Red Storm fans were hoping the big get would be Sylven Landesberg from Flushing, N.Y.

The 6-foot-5 guard is one of the best prospects from the Big Apple this season and one of the first highly ranked prospects to take the Big East team deep into the recruiting process. Landesberg visited Norm Roberts' program, but chose Virginia over St. John's and Georgia Tech.

Best storyline

Providence has made a living by finding the under-the-radar guys, quickly developing them and putting the sleeper prospects on the floor immediately. Next in line is Bilal Dixon.

The 6-foot-8 forward from New Jersey is a bouncy big man with a nice reputation in the ultra-competitive Northeast. From those that have seen him in action, Dixon plays above the rim and uses his bounce to create mismatches.

There will be those who ask, "Where did he come from?" Well, we tried to tell you.

  • Vote: Big East's top class? | No. 1 SEC | No. 2 Pac-10 | No. 3 ACC | Tomorrow: No. 5 Big Ten

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