This post is a continuation of the Top 25 NYC Players series. Read up on 21-25 and 16-20 first.
15. Rakim Sanders, Fairfield — Sanders played the first three seasons of his career at Boston College, so when he got the chance to play with the Stags in the MAAC this season it was a sight. The 6’5″ swingman averaged 16.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. He could’ve done even better, but he shot just 64% from the free throw line. Sanders played especially well against Iona, dropping 24, 22 and 26 points in three matches against the Gaels, two of which Fairfield won. The Stags lost in the semifinals of the CIT, but Sydney Johnson’s first season there was a success partially because of the consistent offensive support that Sanders was able to provide. It’s worth noting that Sanders had just one terrible game all season, a two-point effort on January 6, 2012 in a 73-60 loss to Siena.
14. Chris Gaston, Fordham — A double-double machine, you could make an argument that Gaston should be higher on this list. What holds him back in my mind is his lack of efficiency on offense. Yes, he scored 17.1 points per game, but he needed 15.2 shots per game to do it. Gaston though was trying to carry a pretty bad Rams offense through much of the season. Being the main focal point of every Atlantic 10 team’s defensive game plan certainly took its toll. Still, he had 16 double-doubles during the season, including 35 points and 16 rebounds in a 67-62 win late in the season over La Salle. The junior forward also had 18 points and 10 boards in Fordham’s win over then #21 Harvard and 23 and 17 in the Rams’ win over Georgia Tech.
13. D’Angelo Harrison, St. John’s — Mike Dunlap seemed to be playing against loaded dice at times this season. The Red Storm’s cast of freshmen were certainly talented, but playing in the Big East with all those new players is never easy. One of the things that made it easier was the play of Harrison. A member of the All-Big East Rookie Team Harrison scored 16.8 points per game for St. John’s while shooting 36% from three and 80% from the free throw line. That’s impressive because the 6’3″ freshman shooting guard from Missouri City, Texas averaged 35.4 minutes per game. Harrison scored 20 plus points 12 times this season, including 25 points on 12 shots in a late December game against Providence. He also scored 21 at Duke, 23 versus Syracuse and 22 in a win over UCLA. Another player later on this list isn’t returning next season, but Harrison gives the Red Storm an excellent building block for the future.
12. Herb Pope, Seton Hall — Banging in the Big East isn’t easy, but Pope still managed to average a double-double this season for the Pirates with 15.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Like Gaston, Pope struggled a bit in his offensive efficiency, but he was even stronger on the boards. Pope did manage to shoot 47% from the field overall and he improved his free throw shooting to 62% during his senior season. For his efforts Pope was named the All-Big East Third Team. SHU will certainly miss his strength around the basket.
11. Shane Gibson, Sacred Heart — Every night the scouting report had in bold at the top “Stop Shane Gibson” as the No. 1 priority in the NEC. No one really managed to do it as the redshirt junior scored 22 points per game with the sick shooting line of 51%/43%/86% (FG%/3PT%/FT%). Those are the numbers of an elite scorer and that’s exactly what Gibson was in 2011-12. The Pioneers’ go-to guy he used 29% of his team’s possessions while on the court and still managed a 112.7 offensive rating. Gibson was named to the NEC First Team thanks to his efforts. Even the presence of Gibson though wasn’t enough to pull out a number of close games for the Pioneers this season. Sacred Heart was 4-8 in games decided by three points or less or in overtime. Then again, if not for Gibson the Pioneers probably wouldn’t have even been in such a spot. He scored 30 or more points four times this season, including a 41-point outburst in a one-point double-overtime loss to Mount St. Mary’s. Gibson was a special player that made every opponent nervous when he had the ball. He’ll be back with a vengeance in 2012-13.
Tomorrow kicks off the Top 10, which includes a number of Ivy Leaguers and a potential NBA Draft pick.