After yet another epic March Madness tournament, the college basketball offseason is finally upon us. While the top flight recruits will be joining campus this fall, let’s take a look at one returning player in each conference to watch out for. For part one, we’ll start with the AAC, Big 10, and Big East.
*All information regarding draft status is as of April 11th*
Big East: Donte DiVincenzo, Guard, Villanova
Donte DiVincenzo became a household name just a week and a half ago after catching fire in the National Championship game. The redshirt sophomore guard out of Newark, Delaware, may not have been a household name before the tournament but was tabbed as the Big East 6th man of the year and was an all Big East freshman team selection in ’16-’17. DiVincenzo has a variety of offensive skills, most notably his shooting and bounce around the rim. He will be thrust into a starting role next season following the departure of Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson, but DiVincenzo seems up to the task. The Michael Jordan of Delaware, as he was known by friends in high school, averaged 18.3 points, 4.7 assists, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per 40 minutes last season. If his per 40 minute numbers are any indication of his potential in an expanded role next year, Villanova should experience no drop off in terms of production at the guard spot.
Big 10: Moritz Wagner, Forward, Michigan
Moritz Wagner, better known as Mo, is a talented forward that fits into what NBA teams want out of their big men. However, it actually may serve Wagner to return to Ann Arbor for his senior season. Wagner has steadily improved in each of his years in college. If he can improve another leap in his senior year, he will be a likely first round pick, possibly even reaching the lottery. If Wagner can continue to hit 3’s consistently and show more consistent flashes of the dominant big man that we saw in the tournament, the sky could be the limit. Wagner is my early pick for Big 10 player of the year next year, provided he stays. With the Wolverines poised to make another deep run in March, Wagner will have another chance to showcase his talents to the world. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see Wagner and Jordan Poole run the floor together next year?
AAC: Jalen Adams, Guard, UConn
Jalen Adams may not be as well known as the previous two players on this list, but he deserves his due. The rising senior guard averaged 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game last season, effectively carrying the Huskies. With the departure of Kevin Ollie and arrival of Dan Hurley, Adams will have a chance in his last season to take advantage of a coaching upgrade and possibly make some noise in the AAC. One thing for Adams to improve upon is his efficiency, as he shot just 43% from the field last season. The Huskies have two four star forwards coming in the upcoming class, hopefully helping to alleviate some of the pressure on Adams. With Landry Shamet and Rob Gray both gone, Adams is the best point guard in the AAC and will be seeking UConn’s first tournament bid since 2016.