Each season, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame awards the top college basketball player at each position. The five awards are represented by basketball legends Bob Cousy for the nation’s top point guard, Jerry West for shooting guard, Julius Erving for small forward, Karl Malone for power forward and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for center. The Hoophall recently released their top 10 players at each position, featuring nine Big East players.
9 Big East Players Named Top 10 for Hall of Fame Awards
Bob Cousy Award
Reigning Big East Player of the Year Tyler Kolek was a predictable nomination for the nation’s top point guard despite a slow start to January. Kolek leads the Marquette Golden Eagles with 15.1 points per game and is atop the Big East with 7.2 assists per game. The senior had three games in January which combined for just 11 points. He shot 4-for-25 in those games but has bounced back since. In three of his last four games, Kolek has scored 23.7 points while shooting 11-for-21 from three-point range.
For as much attention as the No. 1 Connecticut Huskies have received, fifth-year point guard Tristen Newton is arguably one of the more underrated players in the country. UConn has stars at multiple positions and experience levels, but Newton is undoubtedly their most consistent player. The former East Carolina transfer leads the team with 15.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game. While freshman teammate Stephon Castle has posted back-to-back career-high scoring outputs, Newton has quietly put together consecutive double-doubles as well.
Jerry West Award
Trey Alexander of the Creighton Bluejays is the lone Big East player up for the nation’s top shooting guard. Alexander scores 17.2 points per game, the fifth-best mark in the conference. His scoring average is also directly between two of his teammates who received the same recognition. The shooting guard has logged 20 points in 11 games this season, at least eight rebounds in three of his last four games, and at least seven assists in two of his last four games.
Julius Erving Award
The second leg of Creighton’s big three is Baylor Scheierman. The six-foot-six wing was named among the 10 best small forwards in the country for his efforts, including the fourth-best scoring (18.2) and three-point shooting mark (37.6%) in the conference. Scheierman has also pulled down the second-most rebounds per game in the Big East (8.3) trailing only Joel Soriano. The senior has six games this season when he sunk four or more three-pointers.
Karl Malone Award
Oso Ighodaro is Kolek’s running mate this season and has been among the conference’s best. Ighodaro’s 62.6% field goal rate is comfortably the best on Marquette and second best in the Big East. The 6-foot-nine power forward has three double-doubles this season, which doesn’t include a seven-point, 16-rebound effort against Creighton. The senior also gets to the free-throw line more than almost anyone in the conference. His 4.7 attempts per game is tied for seventh-most in the Big East.
Connecticut’s Alex Karaban has been banged up with an ankle injury as of late but has been one of UConn’s most reliable players nonetheless. At six-foot-eight, Karaban plays more of a perimeter game than Ighodaro. Karaban scores 14.2 points per game with 5.6 rebounds. His 2.1 three-pointers made per game is tied for eighth-most in the Big East. The Huskies currently have five players who average double-digit scoring, which is the most in the conference and could take away from Karaban’s numbers. But he is starting to get the proper recognition in his redshirt sophomore season.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award
UConn big man Donovan Clingan had lofty expectations surrounding him ahead of his sophomore season. All-Conference and All-American felt within reach for Clingan before injuries have had him up and down this year. The Connecticut native doesn’t seem like he’s been able to ramp up fully this season despite gaining the Hoophall’s recognition. Clingan is scoring 12.6 points per game with 6.5 rebounds per game. He’s struggled with fouls over the last couple of games, but the upside remains with Clingan as one of three Big East players featured for this award.
Ryan Kalkbrenner is Creighton’s third player recognized for the positional awards. Kalkbrenner’s 16.7 points per game is the sixth-best mark in the Big East. He even leads the conference, shooting 63% from the field. The seven-foot senior also pulls down 7.7 rebounds per game, tied for fifth-most in the league. Kalkbrenner has gone nine consecutive games, scoring double-digits and recording at least eight rebounds.
St. John’s Red Storm center Joel Soriano has been a bright spot for Rick Pitino’s club this season. Soriano scored 15.9 points per game and is among the league’s best in rebounding and field goal percentage. His 61.6% rate from the field trails only Kalkbrenner and Ighodaro. Soriano is also well ahead of Scheierman for the top rebounding mark in the Big East at 9.6 per game. In a January 31 loss at Xavier, the Yonkers natives scored 21 points with 15 rebounds.