With the 2020-2021 college basketball season—at least, the Division I edition—right around the corner, it’s time for our annual preseason awards.
Things are a little different this time around, with Penn (and the rest of the Ivy League) taking the whole year off, so the City 6 is more like a City 5 for a few months. This year, we picked two preseason all-area teams, as well as a pick for Breakout Player and Freshman of the Year, with other names to keep an eye on for both.
Without further ado, our picks for the preseason all-area teams:
Villanova senior Collin Gillespie (above) is our preseason pick for City 6 Player of the Year. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
Preseason Player of the Year
Collin Gillespie (Sr./G/Villanova)
Villanova has had a reputation of having great point guards over the past decade, and Gillespie has certainly done his part to keep that tradition going. After having a reserve role as a freshman on Villanova’s 2018 national championship team, the 6-3 Archbishop Wood graduate has been a consistent contributor for the Wildcats. After averaging a solid 10.9 ppg and 2.8 apg in his sophomore year, Gillespie took over as the team leader and primary ball-handler and did not disappoint as a junior.
Gillespie improved his scoring to 15.1 ppg and his assists numbers to 4.5 apg while leading the Wildcats to a share of the Big East regular-season title. His year included a 29-point outing against Temple (including 7-of-11 from 3-point range), 28 points at Butler and five other 20-point outings, scoring in double figures in all but four games. Gillespie’s huge year was enough to earn himself a spot on the All-Big East second team. With the Wildcats looking to get back to the promised land, Wright will lean on his senior throughout the 2020-2021 season.
James Butler (R-Jr./F/Drexel)
Though he’s not the most athletic big man and doesn’t have deep 3-point range, Butler dominates inside with an unending motor and understanding of the game. In his first two years at Drexel, this 6-8 forward has already piled up 764 points and 648 rebounds; with an additional year of eligibility granted this offseason by the NCAA, he’s on pace to be well up the Dragon leaderboards in both categories by the time he graduates. Last year, Butler averaged 13.2 ppg and a CAA-leading 11.7 rpg (fifth nationally, as were his 20 double-doubles), plus 2.2 apg, making 53% of his shots.
Ryan Daly (R-Sr./G/St. Joe’s)
If you’ve been living in the Philadelphia area for the last while and haven’t seen Daly play basketball, you’re missing out. Since arriving at Archbishop Carroll for his sophomore year, Daly’s given his all every minute he’s been out on the court—and if you’ve watched him play, you know that getting him off the court isn’t easy. Last year, the 6-5 do-everything guard played 34.7 mpg in his first year at St. Joe’s after transferring in from Delaware, averaging 20.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 4.3 apg and 1.2 spg. If he can improve his 3-point percent (30.7%), he’d be just about unstoppable.
Justin Moore (Soph./G/Villanova)
As just a freshman last year, Justin Moore played beyond his years, improving as the year went on. The 6-4 guard from the nation’s capital averaged 11.3 ppg on 41.8% shooting from the field and 39.6% shooting from behind the arc, 3.1 rpg, and 1.9 apg. With plenty of perimeter depth on the Wildcats this year, don’t expect Moore’s numbers to make a drastic leap, but expect the sophomore to continue his efficient play and possibly take some big shots for the defending Big East regular-season champions.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Soph./F/Villanova)
After an impressive freshman season, the 6-9 Robinson-Earl decided to skip the 2020 NBA Draft and return to Villanova for his sophomore year. During his first year, Robinson-Earl averaged 10.5 ppg and 9.4 rpg while shooting 45.4% from the field. The talented big man will have a big role on the AP’s No. 3 preseason squad, playing inside and out. Without much depth down low, Jay Wright needs to lean on Robinson-Earl throughout the year. If he can improve his 32.8% mark from the outside, he could be an All-American come March and in the NBA not too long after.
Camren Wynter (Jr./G/Drexel)
One of the top lead guards in the CAA and looking to stake that case in all of mid-major hoops, Drexel’s junior is quickly rising up the ranks of better guards in recent DU memory, putting himself in the mix with the likes of Frantz Massenat, Damion Lee and Chris Fouch. Wynter earned second team all-CAA honors as a sophomore, averaging 15.7 ppg, 5.1 apg and 3.7 rpg while shooting 44.4% overall and 35.5% from 3-point territory. The 6-2 guard from Hempstead (N.Y.) needs to cut down on his turnovers (3.5/game) and he’ll be in the mix of CAA Player of the Year come March.
David Beatty (above) was La Salle's leading scorer a year ago, and now will be one of its leaders as well. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
David Beatty (Sr./G/La Salle)
A talented lead guard out of Imhotep Charter, Beatty finally looked to be living up to his potential last season, averaging a team-high 10.7 ppg, as well as 2.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.1 steals. His numbers actually got better in the second half of the season when he moved from the starting lineup to sixth man, averaging 12.1 ppg and shooting 36.7% from 3-point range over the final 14 games (three starts).
Cameron Brown (Soph./G/St. Joe’s)
The Hawks got a good one in this former William & Mary commit, a versatile 6-5 wing guard who started 31 of 32 games in his rookie season for St. Joe’s. Brown averaged 10.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 1.3 apg, shooting 41.9% overall and 31.4% from 3-point range. Expect him to play a huge role for the program over the next three seasons, as he’s capable of playing all four perimeter spots.
Caleb Daniels (R-Jr./G/Villanova)
Two years ago, Daniels was tearing up the American Athletic Conference, averaging 16.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists during his sophomore year at Tulane. Now he’s looking at a starting spot on a team with a national championship, bringing yet another versatile perimeter presence to a Wildcats roster absolutely stocked with them.
JP Moorman II (Sr./F/Temple)
Moorman’s numbers the last couple years have been modest; the 6-7 wing-forward averaged 5.8 ppg and 5.1 rpg as a junior, similar numbers to his sophomore season. But the Owls lost four of their top five leading scorers, and Moorman’s going to find himself in a position where he has the ball in his hands quite often, as a playmaking wing who can also stretch the floor; he should be in for a career year.
Jermaine Samuels (Sr./F/Villanova)
Over the past two seasons, Samuels has been a solid player for Villanova, averaging 8.4 ppg on 45.7% shooting from the field, 5.4 rpg, and 1.5 apg. Samuels will continue to be a consistent contributor for the Wildcats and will potentially have some big moments similar to last year where he hit the go-ahead 3 against the then-No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks in a huge Villanova win.
Zach Walton (Grad./G/F/Drexel)
Walton’s first season at DU was cut short by injury, but the 6-6 wing averaged 12.2 ppg and 4.4 rpg last year in 33 games (20 starts). His biggest issue was his 3-point shooting (26.5%), but he shot better than 40% from deep in his sophomore year at Edmonds (Wash.) CC; even getting back into the 35% range would make him a much more effective scorer.
Dahmir Bishop (Soph./G/St. Joe’s), Jack Clark (R-Soph./SG/La Salle), Myles Douglas (R-Jr./G-F/St. Joe’s), Jake Forrester (Jr./F/Temple), Taylor Funk (R-Jr./F/St. Joe’s), De’Vondre Perry (Sr./F/Temple), Scott Spencer (Sr./G/ La Salle)
Jake Forrester (above) had a decent debut season for Temple, but we project bigger things ahead. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Breakthrough Player of the Year
Jake Forrester (Jr./F/Temple)
It wouldn’t surprise us if anybody mentioned in this section ended up on our all-city teams by the end of the season, but Forrester gets the nod here with his opportunity to make a massive impact for an Owls’ program that desperately needs a high-quality, two-way interior presence. The Westtown School graduate, a Central Pa. native, started his college career at Indiana, but only saw a total of 55 minutes spread over 13 games. He got a waiver a few games into last season and ultimately played in 26 games (16 starts), averaging 7.5 ppg and 3.8 rpg, making 53.3% of his shots but only 49.3% of his free-throws. Though he’s only 6-8 and 220 lbs., his vertical athleticism and motor should allow him to be an effective defender and rebounder, as well as an around-the-rim finisher. If Forrester can’t become that for the Owls, they don’t have many other options inside.
Others to Watch
T.J. Bickerstaff (Soph./F/Drexel), Ayinde Hikim (Soph./PG/La Salle), Jared Kimbrough (Jr./PF/La Salle), Rahmir Moore (Soph./G/St. Joe’s), Mate Okros (Soph./SF/Drexel), De’Vondre Perry (Sr./F/Temple), Christian Ray (So./G/La Salle), Cole Swider (Jr./F/Villanova)
Preseason Rookie of the Year
Jordan Hall (G/F/St. Joe’s)
Even when he was a 6-5 freshman at Middle Twp. (N.J.), it was clear that Hall’s future in the game was bright, with a mixed bag of tools and a frame that suggested further growth. But it still took him a while to gain the on-court confidence he needed to be truly ready for Division I ball, growing to 6-8 along the way. As a senior at Neumann-Goretti, Hall was indeed a Swiss Army knife, playing a point-forward role that saw him do everything from bring the ball upcourt, work as a shooter off screens, post up and more. He’s a strong outside shooter and a terrific passer with court vision, and has the size to defend multiple positions. Expect him to carve out a big role, and to do it early on.
Jhamir Brickus (G/La Salle)
Coatesville product, a high-scoring 5-11 guard, has always played with confidence and consistency, but the Ches-Mont is a far cry from the Atlantic 10.
Eric Dixon (R-Fr./F/Villanova)
Dixon took a year to work on his body and his game, but now the 6-8 forward and best player in Abington’s history is ready to show why he was a four-star prospect and 2,000-point scorer.
Damian Dunn (R-Fr./G/Temple)
Dunn got the briefest taste of D-I last year, playing in one game, but a foot injury proved too much to overcome; the 6-5 guard from North Carolina has a high ceiling.
Anwar Gill (G/La Salle)
A D.C. native, Gill comes to La Salle after spending a prep year at powerhouse Montverde Academy (Fl.), and also played for Gonzaga HS in the WCAC.
Jeremiah Williams (G/Temple)
Another newcomer to the Owls’ backcourt is this 6-5 wing guard who played at Simeon (Ill.), the same school that produced 2014 No. 2 NBA draft selection Jabari Parker.