Tristen Newton, UConn basketball, Big East basketball

Big East basketball usually has some of the best point guards in the country, and that’s still the case heading into the 2023-24 season.

11. Jayden Pierre, Providence

There are just so many questions about Jayden Pierre, that there’s no other place to put him than 11th. He’s the only projected Big East basketball starting point guard who has yet to hold a significant role, only playing 11.0 minutes per game last season.

Pierre did some things well. He averaged 2.5 PPG and 1.9 APG. In more time and with more confidence, that could realistically jump to something like 8.0 PPG and 5.0 APG, which I’m sure Kim English would be happy with. But that’s a mere prediction for someone who didn’t get a ton of burn last year. Pierre might wind up being a top 7 or 8 point guard in the conference this season, but at least right now, it’s all just a guess.

10. Jalen Terry, DePaul

DePaul doesn’t necessarily have a set-in-stone point guard for the season, but Jalen Terry fits the bill the best. The 5-11 guard did finish second on the Blue Demons in assists per game in 2021-22, with 3.1. Last season, Terry’s numbers dropped to just 1.5 APG, in a decreased role. The reason? Umoja Gibson. But now that he’s gone, it seems like it’s Terry’s show again.

To improve this season, Terry will need to be more efficient from the field. He’s yet to break 40% from the floor in three seasons and has never reached close to averaging double-digits in points per game. That’s just too predictable for someone who doesn’t have the size to affect the game elsewhere. Terry is a solid player, but needs to improve for the Blue Demons to also improve.

9. Jay Heath, Georgetown

Jay Heath has been playing in college basketball since 2019 and is now entering his fifth season, and second with the Georgetown Hoyas. It’s his third power six team, and at all of his stops, Heath has been a consistent point guard.

Heath saw his scoring average go up last season and set a career-high with 3.9 rebounds per game. As a point guard, he only averaged 1.6 assists per game, and would best be described as a score-first PG. New GTown head coach Ed Cooley could very well get the most out of Heath, who is now on his fifth coach in five years. That has to be some sort of record, but it’s also commendable how consistent Heath has been through it all. Expect the same this year.

8. Mark Armstrong, Villanova

I believe that Armstrong will be one of the most improved players from last season. As a freshman, he had typical ups and downs. Armstrong’s point guard skills were evident, but not completely developed. However, with one year down in college basketball, the New Jersey native should be in for a much bigger, and more consistent year.

That starts with improving on his average of just 1.0 assists per game in nearly 20 minutes per game. But as a scorer, Armstrong showed true potential, averaging 5.3 PPG. He’s got even more talent around him than last year, which should also alleviate some of that pressure to perform from day one. Expect Armstrong to improve as the season goes on, and keep the Wildcats on track to earn a bid into March Madness.

7. Daniss Jenkins, St. John’s

Talk about impeccable timing! Daniss Jenkins was just granted eligibility by the NCAA on Wednesday, which means the Iona transfer is set to play this season for his new team, St. John’s. Jenkins ran the show at Iona for one year, leading the Gaels into the NCAA Tournament and hanging around with UConn quite a bit. Jenkins had 14 points in that game, proof that he be a point guard in Big East basketball.

Jenkins will be tasked with gelling with a ton of different transfers. Rick Pitino focused on building his new team directly from the transfer portal, with Jenkins coming on over with the head coach. It can be difficult playing with all new guys, and it’ll be Jenkins’ third new team in three seasons. However, he’s improved each year, and has leveled up each year, so you shouldn’t expect different this season.

6. Dayvion McKnight, Xavier

Like Jenkins, Dayvion McKnight is transferring from a lower conference to a power conference but did compete at a higher level with Western Kentucky. McKnight stacked together three strong seasons at WKU, averaging 16.2 PPG and 16.5 PPG the last two. As a point guard, McKnight had his best year in 2021-22, averaging a career-high 5.5 APG.

Despite his score-first mentality, McKnight is a beast as a playmaker, rebounder, and defender. He plays slower than most point guards but makes up for it with his strength. The lefty also has a unique way of dribbling – a bit higher than most. There is some concern on if Big East basketball may expose him, but based on his time in Conference USA, I think that’s unfounded.

5. Kadary Richmond, Seton Hall

Speaking about big guards who play a bit slower than most, I introduce you to Kadary Richmond! The Seton Hall PG plays at his own speed, and can really control the outcomes of games. Richmond improved his three-point shot last season, up to 44.4% on 1.3 attempts per game. However, most of the time he excels in driving to the basket, and close shots around the paint.

On a Seton Hall team that struggled to create shots last season, Richmond did a great job of setting his teammates up for success. He averaged 4.1 APG for the second consecutive year and did so while setting a career-best with 10.1 PPG. An injury ended Richmond’s season early, and when he was off the court, you could tell a difference. He’s that important for the Pirates.

4. Steven Ashworth, Creighton

The Utah State transfer should have an immediate impact on the Bluejays. For one, Ashworth brings a pass-first mentality, averaging 4.5 APG last season. He’s also improved that rate each year he’s been in college basketball, and will now be around even better talent than before.

But Ashworth does more than set up other players. He can take over a game with his 43.4% clip from deep. Last season, Ashworth doubled his scoring average to 16.2 PPG. In this high-tempo Creighton offense, Ashworth is the perfect fit.

3. Tristen Newton, UConn

Tristen Newton came to UConn with questions on whether or not he could be the true point guard the Huskies needed. I’ll admit my faults – I wasn’t sure if he could lead the Huskies to a National Championship. I was completely wrong, because Newton is now, in fact, a National Champion.

Will he run it back? After a very solid first year in Big East basketball, you would think Newton would have an even better season. The graduate senior can score the ball but doesn’t shy away from grabbing boards and playing his PG position. Newton is proving that being a “natural fit” doesn’t mean anything. Dan Hurley entrusted him to be the Connecticut point guard, and Newton is doing it at a high level.

2. Posh Alexander, Butler

Defense comes first for Posh Alexander, and arguably nobody in Big East basketball does it better than him. In three seasons, Alexander has kept together a steals-per-game average of 2.3. The former St. John’s guard moves on to Butler, where he should be the focal point of the Bulldogs offense. Alexander’s junior year was unusual, considering he set career highs across the board in his sophomore season. Regardless, Alexander saw career lows in PPG, APG, SPG, and FGA per game.

While Alexander didn’t exactly shoot the best, you also have to wonder if part of it was a lack of opportunity. You have to think that by transferring to Butler, Alexander will have the keys to the offense. Pressure is on for Thad Matta to improve the Bulldogs in year two, and there’s virtually no better Big East basketball point guard to have than Posh Alexander.

1. Tyler Kolek, Marquette

There are a lot of great Big East basketball point guards, but Tyler Kolek is the only one who could wind up being the player of the year in college basketball. He won’t necessarily blow you away, but his fundamentals and basketball IQ are strong.

Last season, Kolek was named Big East Player of the Year after leading Marquette to a 29-7 (17-3) record. He was dominant in all aspects of the game, averaging 12.9 PPG, 7.5 APG, 4.1 RPG, and 1.8 SPG. Kolek can drill it from three and doesn’t overshoot the ball. He’s the prototype point guard in college basketball and should be in for a massive senior year with the Golden Eagles.

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