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15 Big East freshmen to watch

We're getting closer and closer to tip-off, so the basketball stuff is going to start coming at a more, shall we say, brisk pace. After this I hope to get the rankings for Big East transfers, point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, power forwards and centers all up before revealing what I think the conference standings are going to look like at the end of the year (because I'm pretty sure no one else has done that yet).

I don't want to reveal just how eager I am for the basketball season to start, but let's just say that I opted for a bath over a shower last night strictly so I could read a Horizon League preview while I soaked. Wanna know how Valpo's move from the Mid-Continent Conference is going to shake things up in the Horizon? Of course you do.

Back to the subject at hand, here are the 15 young guns that'll most impress you this winter.

15. Jeremy Hazell, G, Seton Hall

Hazell is a lights out shooter who will probably be one of those guys whose statistics are modest but has three or four games where he absolutely goes off. Originally committed to Oral Roberts, but opted to go to Prep school in North Carolina where he averaged 24.7 ppg.

14. Trevor Mbakwe, F, Marquette

Could come in and play major minutes right away to help out a weak Golden Eagle front court that was exploited in an first round loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament. Mbakwe has a ways to go offensively, but he's a great leaper, rebounder and shot blocker.

13. Rick Jackson, F, Syracuse

Perhaps the best shot blocker in the Big East freshman class, Jackson has improved drastically in the past two years, a trend that should continue under the tutelage of Jim Boeheim. He'll likely back up sophomore Arinze Onuaku, and add depth to an Orange front court that lost Terrence Roberts and Darryl Watkins to graduation.

12. Anthony McClain, C, Cincinnati

Cincinnati fans are banking hard that the 7-foot McClain adjusts quickly to the college game and can be a standout immediately. Rated as the 7th best center in the country coming out of high school, McClain is still a bit of a project but does defend and run the floor very well.

11. Dejuan Blair, F/C, Pittsburgh

The bulky Blair could find himself being the main man in the middle for a Pitt team that will look to push tempo far more than it has in recent memory. Blair grew up just minutes from the Pitt campus, and starred at nearby Schenley High School where he averaged 17 points and 14 rebounds a game as a senior.

10. Justin Burrell, F, St. John's

Burrell could be the darkhorse in the race for Rookie of the Year because he may very well be the freshman who means the most to his team. A dominant presence inside, he'll likely immediately be the go-to-guy in the post for the Johnnies.

9. Dar Tucker, G, Depaul

In a huge recruiting coup, the Blue Demons won the services of the uber-athletic Tucker despite competing with the likes of Indiana and Illinois. He is a pure scorer and will likely vacate the role voided by do-everything guard Sammy Mejia.

8. Corey Chandler, G, Rutgers

Chandler is an explosive scorer who has the potential to put up some ridiculous numbers as a freshman. He will eventually become the new Quincy Douby at RU.

7. Corey Stokes, G, Villanova

Stokes is a fantastic shooter with all the offensive tools to be a star at 'Nova. He should fit perfectly in the backcourt with Scottie Reynolds and fellow freshman Corey Fisher.

6. Chris Wright, G, Georgetown

A McDonald's All-American with great range, Wright may not get the opportunity to truly shine as a freshman playing his first season in JT III's system on a team with an already stacked backcourt. Still, the inconsistent shooting of some of the returning veteran guards may force Wright into more action than some are predicting.

5. Austin Freeman, G, Georgetown

Another Hoya McDonald's All-American, Freeman is a versatile guard with a Big East body who should fit in perfectly at Georgetown.

4. Mac Koshwal, F, Depaul

Just how good can Nayal "Mac" Koshwal be? According to head coach Jerry Wainwright, Koshwal "has the potential to be one of the greats that ever played at Depaul in the front court. From 15 feet in he can do about whatever he wants." The Blue Demons will go as far as their freshmen (Tucker and Koshwal) and seniors (Draelon Burns, Karron Calrke and Wesley Green) can carry them.

3. Corey Fisher, G, Villanova

A Bronx native with unshakable confidence, Fisher should be able to come in and immediately take a lot of pressure off of Scottie Reynolds. The New Jersey prep Player of the Year is the best ball handler the Wildcats have had in quite some time.

2. Johnny Flynn, G, Syracuse

Flynn provides Syracuse with a pure point guard, which should allow Eric Devendorf to move back to his natural position of shooting guard. He improved on his already outstanding reputation by shining as the primary ball handler on Team USA at the under-19 World Championships.

1. Donte Greene, F, Syracuse

I think the Carmelo Anthony comparisons are probably a little over-the-top, but the thought that he'll spend as many seasons at Syracuse as Anthony certainly isn't.

Next Five:

Alvin Mitchell, F, Cincinnati
Orane Chin, F, South Florida
Mike Coburn, G, Rutgers
Tyrone Nash, G/F, Notre Dame
Jamine "Greedy" Peterson, F, Providence