Georgetown’s Smith-Rivera gets top player nod in Big East preseason honors
NEW YORK — Georgetown guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera has been chosen the 2014-15 Big East Preseason Player of the Year by a vote of the league’s head coaches. Seton Hall freshman guard Isaiah Whitehead has been named Big East Preseason Rookie of the Year.
Smith-Rivera, a 6-foot-3 junior, is the sixth Georgetown player in Big East history to earn Preseason Player of the Year honors. He finished third in the league in scoring last year with a 17.6 average. He led the Big East in free throw shooting, making 87.3 percent, and shot 39.3 percent from 3-point range. One of the league’s ironmen, Smith-Rivera was fourth in minutes played in league action, averaging 37 minutes. Still, he finished strong late in the season, averaging 21 points per game over the last six contests.
Smith-Rivera was an All-Big East Second Team selection in 2013-14 and a Big East All-Rookie Team pick as a freshman.
Whitehead is a 6-4 guard who was a 2014 McDonald’s All-American at Lincoln H.S. in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was named Mr. Basketball in New York by the state’s Basketball Coaches Association.
The 2014-15 Preseason All-Big East First Team includes three seniors and two juniors. Joining Smith-Rivera are seniors D’Angelo Harrison of St. John’s, JayVaughn Pinkston of Villanova and Matt Stainbrook of Xavier, plus junior Kellen Dunham of Butler.
Harrison also earned All-Big East First Team honors last year. He has led the Red Storm in scoring in each of the past two seasons. Last season the 6-4 guard averaged 17.5 points and won the Haggerty Award as the top collegiate player in the New York Metropolitan area. Harrison leads all current Big East players with 866 career points in league play.
Pinkston was a prime contributor to Villanova’s 29-5 record and Big East regular-season title. A 6-7, 235-pound forward, he supported the balanced Wildcats attack with a 14.1 scoring average and was one of three players to average 6.1 rebounds.
Like Pinkston, Stainbrook is a powerful low-post presence. The Xavier forward averaged 10.6 points and a team-leading 7.4 rebounds. He ranked second in the Big East in field goal shooting, making 55.6 percent. The 6-10, 263-pounder earned All-Big East Honorable Mention recognition last year.
Dunham emerged as one of the top shooters in the Big East last season. His 16.4 scoring average helped earn him All-Big East Second Team honors. He is the league’s third-leading returning scorer. His 78 3-point baskets ranked fifth in the conference. The 6-6 Dunham shot 80.3 percent from the foul line.
The Preseason All-Big East Second Team is younger than the First Team with two seniors, a junior and two sophomores.
DePaul sophomore guard Billy Garrett, Jr. was the Big East Rookie of the Year last season. He ranked first among league freshmen with a 12.4 scoring average and 93 assists.
The other sophomore is St. John’s guard Rysheed Jordan, who averaged 9.7 points and 3 assists.
The lone junior is Villanova guard Ryan Arcidiacono, a two-year starter who averaged 9.9 points and 3.5 assists last season. He was an All-Big East Honorable Mention.
Darrun Hilliard, Arcidiacono’s backcourt teammate, was a contributor to the balanced Villanova success with a 14.3 scoring average. He shot 41.4 percent from beyond the arc. Hilliard shared the Big East Most Improved Player award with teammate Daniel Ochefu.
The Preseason All-Big East Honorable Mentions include three juniors: Butler guard Roosevelt Jones, who missed all of last season with a wrist injury, St. John’s center Chris Obekpa, who is the school’s all-time blocked shots leader, and Seton Hall guard Sterling Gibbs, who was the team’s second-leading scorer last season with a 13.2 average.
A full list of the Big East preseason player honors:
2014-15 Big East Preseason Player of the Year
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown
2014-15 Big East Preseason Rookie of the Year
Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall
2014-15 Preseason All-Big East First Team
Kellen Dunham, Butler, G, Jr., 6-6, 185, Pendleton, Ind.
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown, G, Jr., 6-3, 214, Indianapolis, Ind.
D’Angelo Harrison, St. John’s, G, Sr., 6-4, 204, Missouri City, Texas
JayVaughn Pinkston, Villanova, F, Sr., 6-7, 235, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Matt Stainbrook, Xavier, C, Sr., 6-10, 270, Bay Village, Ohio
2014-15 Preseason All-Big East Second Team
Billy Garrett, Jr., DePaul, G, So., 6-6, 205, Chicago, Ill.
LaDontae Henton, Providence, F, Sr., 6-6, 215, Lansing, Mich.
Rysheed Jordan, St. John’s, G, So., 6-4, 185, Philadelphia, Pa.
Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova, G, Jr., 6-3, 195, Langhorne, Pa.
Darrun Hilliard, Villanova, G, Sr., 6-6, Bethlehem, Pa.
2014-15 Preseason All-Big East Honorable Mention
Roosevelt Jones, Butler, G, Jr., 6-4, 227, O’Fallon, Ill.
Chris Obekpa, St. John’s, C, Jr., 6-9, 240, Makurdi, Nigeria
Sterling Gibbs, Seton Hall, G, Jr., 6-2, 185, Scotch Plains, N.J.