Harrison, Henton, Smith-Rivera Lead Big East to New Heights

Auburn, AL

D’Angelo Harrison, LaDontae Henton and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera are having three of the greatest careers in the history of the Big East (see top 25 Value Add careers below), as the conference is 4-0 against the teams that left two years ago and projected by USA Today to land 70% of its teams in the NCAA tournament for the first time ever. Harrison was nearly perfect Saturday.

Fans often overrate players who have lots of missed shots and turnovers en route to big numbers, but on Saturday Harrison missed only 3 field goals, no free throws, and did not turn the ball over once while scoring 21 points, dishing out six assists, and grabbing 10 rebounds in a 84-66 win over Creighton.

Ken Pomeroy calculates that Harrison was worth 1.88 points per possession Saturday, a nearly perfect mark. A player who made a 3-point shot every time he touched the ball without the help of an assist would be a 3.00, and a player who scored a two-point shot every time he touched the ball would barely be higher than Harrison at 2.00.

Harrison’s career Value Add through last week’s ratings give him the 13th best career total – tops of any current player. The other two to break the top 25 are Smith-Rivera (ranked 18th at 17.59) and LaDontae Henton (ranked 17th at 18.22).

Smith-Rivera has a 7.97 this year for a 17.59 career mark in this his junior year. With an equally impressive senior season next year he would become the top Big East player since the 2005-06 season with a rating close to 26.0.

NBA players Kemba Walker (UConn), Jae Crowder and Jimmy Butler (Marquette), Otto Porter (Georgetown), and Doug McDermott (Creighton) had greater individual seasons but did not play four years in the Big East. McDermott is the greatest offensive player in the history of Value Add, and his overall rating of 27.59, counting the three seasons he played for Creighton before they joined the Big East, would make him No. 1 on the list.

Rnk Big East Careers 2006-2015 Team Career Value Add
1 Jones, Kevin West Virginia 23.47
2 Hibbert, Roy Georgetown 22.35
3 Harangody, Luke Notre Dame 22.19
4 Freeman, Austin Georgetown 21.44
5 Reynolds, Scottie Villanova 20.9
6 Walker, Kemba Connecticut 20.75
7 Butler, Da’Sean West Virginia 20.43
8 Williams, Terrence Louisville 19.55
9 Cotton, Bryce Providence 19.26
10 Fields, Levance Pittsburgh 19.24
11 Napier, Shabazz Connecticut 19.12
12 James, Dominic Marquette 19.02
13 Harrison, D’Angelo St. John’s 18.93
14 Ruoff, Alex West Virginia 18.48
15 Jones, Dominique South Florida 18.44
16 Hayward, Lazar Marquette 18.3
17 Henton, LaDontae Providence 18.22
18 Smith-Rivera, D’Vauntes Georgetown 17.59
19 McNeal, Jerel Marquette 17.04
20 Butler, Jimmy Marquette 16.97
21 Crowder, Jae Marquette 16.95
22 Hazell, Jeremy Seton Hall 16.74
23 Clark, Jason Georgetown 16.62
24 Fisher, Corey Villanova 16.52
25 Wright, Cashmere Cincinnati 16.52

Harrison averaged 20 points and 4 steals in games against Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, Minnesota, and Syracuse prior to Big East play. However, St. John’s is now on the bubble for a tournament bid due to a 4-6 mark against a conference that is proving even tougher than the glory years of 2006 – 2013 with Louisville, Syracuse, Pitt and UConn.

The all-time Big East high was in 2011 when it placed 69% (11 of 16) of the its teams in the tournament.

St. John’s and other teams have found there is no easy night in the Big East as every team is in the top 125 at www.kenpom.com, whereas during the golden era from the 2005-06 to 2012-13 there were always at least two Big East teams outside the top 125 and a few even finished outside the Top 200.

This year, Harrison has a chance to pass Dominic James (Marquette), Shabazz Napier (UConn), and Levance Fields (Pitt) to break into the Top 10. Harrison has been remarkably consistent during his four years with Value Add ratings of 4.43, 4.25, 4.66, and 5.59 for a career total of 18.93. This means he has been worth more than four points per game each season until this year – where he is pushing a value of six points per game. That means St. John’s could have likely lost the games to Marquette and St. Mary’s if he were not playing.

Both of their teams, Georgetown and Providence, are expected to be in the tournament. Even the three teams not expected to make the tournament have had impressive non-conference wins with DePaul beating Stanford, Creighton beating Oklahoma, and Marquette beating Arizona State (which beat Arizona today).

Henton plays in his final year – and hung 38 points on Notre Dame to give the Big East a 4-0 mark this season against teams that left (Syracuse lost to Villanova and St. John’s, while Seton Hall destroyed Rutgers 81-54).