Oct. 23, 2002
Brandin Knight, the Pittsburgh guard who was the BIG EAST Co-Player of the Year in 2001-02, has been selected 2002-03 Preseason Player of the Year by a vote of the league’s head coaches. Carmelo Anthony, a 6-10 freshman forward from Syracuse, was named Preseason Rookie of the Year.
Knight, a native of East Orange, N.J., also won the BIG EAST Most Improved Player award last year. He led the Panthers to the BIG EAST West Division title and a 13-3 league record. Overall, Pittsburgh finished 29-6 and advanced to an NCAA region semifinal for only the second time in school history. Knight averaged 15.6 points and 7.2 assists as the Panthers’ floor general.
The 6-0 senior was a unanimous pick for the Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team. The other selections for the first team are: Troy Bell of Boston College, Emeka Okafor of Connecticut, Mike Sweetney of Georgetown, Darius Rice of Miami and Marcus Hatten of St. John’s.
Bell, like Knight, is a former BIG EAST Co-Player of the Year. Bell garnered that honor two seasons ago as a sophomore. Last year, the Eagle guard was the BIG EAST’s top overall scorer with a 21.6 average and earned All-BIG EAST First Team accolades.
Sweetney and Hatten also earned All-BIG EAST First Team honors last season. Sweetney, Georgetown’s low post standout, averaged 19.0 points and 10.0 rebounds while helping the Hoyas compile a 19-11 record. The 6-8, 260-pound junior also led the conference in field goal shooting, connecting on 56.7 percent of his shots.
Hatten won the 2001-02 BIG EAST scoring crown by averaging 22.3 points in league games. A junior college transfer last season, he was the first newcomer in BIG EAST history to lead the league in scoring. Hatten also made numerous clutch baskets for the Red Storm who finished their season with a 20-12 record and an NCAA Tournament bid.
Miami’s Rice was an All-BIG EAST Second Team selection last year. The 6-10 forward led the Hurricanes with a 14.9 scoring mark. He also averaged 5.9 rebounds while helping UM to a 24-8 record and an NCAA Tournament berth.
Okafor, the only sophomore on the Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team, made a splashy debut for the Huskies last season. He finished third in the nation in blocked shots with a 4.1 average. He posted averages of 9.2 points and 9.0 rebounds.
Among the Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team selections are forward Ricky Wright of Villanova who was a postseason second team pick last year. Miami forward James Jones was a third team selection. Notre Dame point guard Chris Thomas was the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. A pair of senior guards, Jerome Coleman of Rutgers and Gary Buchanan of Villanova, were named All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention last season. Seton Hall guard Andre Barrett led the Pirates in scoring at 16.9 and in assists at 5.0.
2002-03 PRESEASON ALL-BIG EAST SELECTIONS
2002-03 Preseason Player of the Year
Brandin Knight, Pittsburgh
2002-03 Preseason Rookie of the Year
Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse
2002-03 Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team
Brandin Knight, Pittsburgh, Sr., G, 6-0, 183, East Orange, N.J.
Troy Bell, Boston College, Sr., G, 6-1, 181, Minneapolis, Minn.
Emeka Okafor, Connecticut, So., F/C, 6-9, 240, Bellaire, Texas
Mike Sweetney, Georgetown, Jr., F, 6-8, 260, Oxon Hill, Md.
Darius Rice, Miami, Jr., F, 6-10, 215, Jackson, Miss.
Marcus Hatten, St. John’s, Sr., G, 6-1, 165, Baltimore, Md.
2002-03 Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team
James Jones, Miami, Sr., F, 6-8, 225, Miami, Fla.
Chris Thomas, Notre Dame, So., G, 6-1, 175, Indianapolis, Ind.
Jerome Coleman, Rutgers, Sr., G, 6-2, 190, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Andre Barrett, Seton Hall, Jr., G, 5-8, 161, Bronx, N.Y.
Gary Buchanan, Villanova, Sr., G, 6-3, 196, St. Louis, Mo.
Ricky Wright, Villanova, Sr., F, 6-7, 225, East Chicago, Ind