The all-time Big East NBA mock draft

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 04: Jalen Brunson
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 04: Jalen Brunson /
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WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 04: Jalen Brunson
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 04: Jalen Brunson /

The Big East has produced more than its share of fantastic basketball players. Here we rank them as NBA Draft prospects.

The Big East is without a doubt the most fascinating conference in college basketball history. Born of the idea of the Northeast’s independent basketball meccas joining forces, the Big East formed in 1979 and transformed college basketball. The conference saw immediate success as a challenger to the ACC. Georgetown made three title games in four years, winning one. Villanova made a miracle run to the title in 1985. Syracuse and Seton Hall gave the Big East two more title game appearances, and St. Johns and Providence pitched in Final Four runs. UConn’s surge in the late-90s, and Marquette and Louisville’s additions in the mid-00s kept the conference at the forefront of the sport for more than 30 years. Then, because of mostly football reasons, the conference abruptly collapsed in 2013. A mass exodus of teams to greener pastures (The ACC, the Big 12, the American Athletic Conference) left the conference scrambling, and while they’ve held their own on a national stage (mostly thanks to Villanova), it isn’t the same as it once was.

The Big East was initially known for its polarizing coaches. Jim Calhoun, Jim Boeheim, John Thompson, Rollie Massimino. But over the years, the Big East established itself as an NBA talent hotbed. An absurd number of quality bigs and point guards have come out of Big East schools over the years, with five Hall of Famers and several more All-Stars entering the league over the years. UConn and Georgetown set the bar in particular, but teams like Marquette, Boston College, and Seton Hall all send multiple rotation players to the league despite a relative lack of success.

We all know the big names to come from the Big East. Carmelo Anthony. Alonzo Mourning. Ray Allen. But the list of great Big East players is expansive. For fun, we decided to put together a big board of the Big East’s best NBA prospects ever. Similar to the All-time Duke Mock Draft last year, we decided to envision all the Big East greats as prospects, and rank them based on how they’d fit in today’s NBA. This let’s us have a little creativity with the exercise. How would Tim Thomas benefit from the modern NBA? Where does Derrick Coleman go?

Some ground rules, before we get started:

  1. Throw out the NBA career. This includes injuries and late-career blooming. We want to consider only these players as NBA prospects, which is why Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry are going to go lower than you’d expect, and guys like Emeka Okafor and Tim Thomas will get bumps. This is an ode to the Big East, so we want to consider the player as he left the conference.
  2. Size concerns aren’t really a factor outside of height and wingspan. We’re assuming the player would be entering the draft today, and therefore would have access to modern strength and conditioning. So, for example, I do still factor in height for eliminating Dana Barros, but I won’t penalize Otis Thorpe for weighing less than Rudy Gay.
  3. Players have to have played for their schools when they were actually in the Big East. This is why you won’t find Dwyane Wade (C-USA-era Marquette) or Jared Dudley (whose best years were at ACC-era Boston College) here.

Everybody on board? Alright, let’s get this Big East Big Board Festival going!