Tuesday November 4th, 2014

There are plenty of ways to use an agile, savvy big man like junior Daniel Ochefu. He can be the defensive anchor in the Big East’s smallest lineup, blocking 7.7 percent of opponents’ two-point attempts (fourth best in the conference). And because of his quickness, he can also defend the perimeter, enabling the Wildcats to trap and switch. On offense, too, he can venture away from the basket for pick-and-pops and dribble-handoffs. “Just because he’s 6-foot-11,” says coach Jay Wright, “we don’t want to lock him on the block.”

Still, while Ochefu is down there, he might as well be effective. Too often last season defenders were free to swarm 6-foot-7 JayVaughn Pinkston in the post and play Ochefu loosely, knowing he’d rather pass. So Ochefu spent his summer backing down assistant Baker Dunleavy, working to increase his offensive repertoire (and his average of 5.7 points). “Now I can look to score first and use my passing as a second option,” says Ochefu.

That will create more opportunities for Pinkston, as well as space the floor for the Wildcats’ trey-happy offense. Which is not to say that Ochefu can’t still provide hands-on help from the high post. “We used [that] a lot last year,” says Wright, “and we’re going to use it more this year.” Big East bigs, stay on your toes.

Read all of SI.com's 2014-15 college basketball preview content

Projected top seven scorers

name pos class ppg rpg apg o-rating
Jayvaughn Pinkston F Sr 15.2 6.3 1.7 119.8
Darrun Hilliard G Sr 14.5 4.1 2.5 116.0
Ryan Arcidiacono G Jr 10.9 2.7 3.4 119.2
Josh Hart F So 10.6 5.3 1.2 126.0
Kris Jenkins F So 7.9 3.6 1.0 119.1
Daniel Ochefu F Jr 7.4 7.0 1.4 109.8
Dylan Ennis G Jr 5.5 1.8 1.8 112.5

Projected Big East standings

rank team Projected Conf. Record 2013-14 Conf. record
1 Villanova 14-4 16-2
2 Georgetown 12-6 8-10
3 Xavier 10-8 10-8
4 St. John's 9-9 10-8
5 Providence 9-9 10-8
6 Marquette 9-9 9-9
7 Seton Hall 8-10 6-12
8 Creighton 8-10 14-4
9 Butler 7-11 4-14
10 DePaul 4-14 3-15

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.