We continue on with our Top 30 players in the Northeast Conference countdown as we look at the second group of ten, players number 20 through 11. You can check out our picks for players number 30 through 21 by clicking here.
20. Marcus Burton – Guard – Junior – Wagner (’12-’13 stats: 25 GP/8 starts, 8.6 ppg, 2.2 apg)
Another piece to the shooting arsenal at Wagner this season is Marcus Burton. Burton is a combo guard who plays well at either guard position. Burton filled in well in the starting lineup last season while Latif Rivers was out with injury. In Wagner’s last eight games of the season, Burton went on a scoring tear with seven double-digit scoring games, averaging 14.5 ppg in that span including a career-high 23 points vs Central Connecticut. It will be interesting to see what Burton’s role will be and how much playing time Basin Mason will have available to him with players like Rivers, Dwaun Anderson and Jay Harris to compete with for minutes. The thing that might hurt him is he is just a lifetime 35.7 FG% shooter in his career thus far and was under 33% from three last season.
19. Phil Gaetano – Guard – Junior – Sacred Heart (’12-’13 stats: 28 GP/28 starts, 4.8 ppg, 7.9 apg (2nd in NCAA), 2.7 rpg)
Gaetano is a player who deserves more attention then what he gets. He is an outstanding floor general with great court vision and delivers beautiful passes to his guys. The reason why he doesn’t get as much of the spotlight is because he is the same conference with one of the best point guards in the nation in LIU’s Jason Brickman. Another reason is because he is true point guard so he thinks pass-first. He only scored double-digits twice last year while having 11 double-digit assist games. His shooting also fell off last season from his freshman year like due to playing over 35 minutes a game a year ago. Gaetano will likely be gunning for the number one spot in the NEC in assist this season and with a little more talent around this season, it is not out of the realm of possibility.
18. Steve Glowiak – Guard – Junior – Sacred Heart (’12-’13 stats: 28 GP/19 starts, 10.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
One of the guys Gaetano will be feeding the ball to is this guy, Steve Glowiak. Glowiak took advantage last season of several key guys getting hurt and he didn’t look back. He started the last 19 games he played for Sacred Heart a year ago. Now with the graduation of NEC superstar and sharpshooter Shane Gibson, Glowiak becomes Sacred Heart’s biggest threat from deep. I got to see him play a little on Sacred Heart’s summer tour through Canada and Glowiak looked like he had his shooting stroke going. He is going to be a key player this season as Sacred Heart looks to run more with new head coach Anthony Latina moves over from assistant coach chair to the head chair.
17. E.J. Reed – Forward – Sophomore – LIU Brooklyn (’12-’13 stats: 34 GP/2 starts, 7.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
Last season, it was a neck and neck dog fight for NEC Rookie of the Year between E.J. Reed and Mount St. Mary’s Shivaughn Wiggins. Wiggins won out but Reed had a nice freshman season coming off the bench, helping lead the Blackbirds to their third straight NEC championship. With the graduation of NEC Player of the Year Jamal Olasewere and now the delayed return of former NEC Player of the Year Julian Boyd, Reed will be counted on more heavily this season. Reed showed typical freshman inconsistency last season but he showed he has great potential. He had a five-game stretch where he scored double figures and scored a career-high 25 points on the road vs Mount St. Mary’s. If he can stay out of foul trouble and if worked on his body over the summer, he is going to a headache to coaches in the NEC this season.
16. Julian Norfleet – Guard – Senior – Mount St. Mary’s (’12-’13 stats: 32 GP/32 starts, 10.8 ppg, 3.2 apg)
It is hard to believe but Norfleet’s averages actually went down a bit last season. The reasons for it was he had more talent around him last season plus with head coach Jamion Christian and his Mount Mayhem system going at full effect, everybody was taking shots last season. Norfleet though thrived during their end-of-year winning streak that took them to the NEC final. He had six games scoring in double figures and if not for an ankle injury against RMU in the NEC semis which had a partial effect on him in the final, it could have been a lot closer final last March. With the transfer of Shivaughn Wiggins, Norfleet will likely play mostly at the point this season and continue pushing that Mount Mayhem pace on opponents.
15. Louis Montes – Guard/Forward – Senior – Sacred Heart (’12-’13 stats: 29 GP/29 starts, 14.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg)
Montes had an outstanding season last year as Sacred Heart second leading scorer behind the great Shane Gibson. He had four double-doubles last season and went off on LIU for 35 points in the first NEC game of the season. This Sacred Heart team this season becomes his team. He will be the main man on this squad and the go-to man on the interior. I wouldn’t be shocked in Anthony Latina’s new run and gun system if Montes puts up averages of 18 ppg and 8 rpg. The issue will be if he can stay on the floor, he did foul out of five games last season and had four fouls in another eight games. For the Pioneers to have success, Montes will need to stay on the court and out of foul trouble.
14. Sam Prescott – Guard – Senior – Mount St. Mary’s (’12-’13 stats: 32 GP/10 starts, 11.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg)
How often do you see a player in college basketball take 10 threes in a game? Not often. How about a player who MADE 10 threes in a game? That is what Sam Prescott did in a game last season against Bryant in which he went 10 of 14 from three on his way to an NEC-high 44 points. Even without that incredible game, Prescott showed he could get the Mount 15 points a night any night. Once he was inserted into the starting lineup along with Shivaughn Wiggins, the Mount only lost once and that was against LIU in the NEC final. He will likely start every game this season which will likely mean an increase of his 170 three-pointers he took last year. In this Mount Mayhem system, Prescott bombing abilities fits in perfectly.
13. Earl Brown – Forward – Junior – St. Francis (PA) (’12-’13 stats: 26 GP/21 starts, 10.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg)
This season, SFU becomes Earl Brown’s team. Leading scorer Umar Shannon transferred out so Brown now becomes the man for Rob Krimmel’s team. Brown doesn’t get much attention playing at a program that has only won 11 games total in his two seasons there but Brown showed he is a rising star in the NEC. He had ten double-doubles last year and at one point had seven straight double-double games. He had a 25-rebound game last season against Central Connecticut. This guy can really play. He just needs more talent around him to help him out. If the Red Flash find a few more players to go along with Brown, they might actually sneak up and grab a playoff spot at the end of the year.
12. Kenneth Ortiz – Guard – R-Senior – Wagner (’12-’13 stats: 31 GP/31 starts, 11.8 ppg, 5.4 apg, 4.3 rpg)
If there was any player that took his game up a notch last year, it was Kenneth Ortiz. Not only did he repeat as NEC Defensive Player of the Year but he improved his offensive game enough to be named to the All-NEC Third Team. Ortiz is a menace defensively against the opposing point guard. He averaged two steals a game last season. For the first time, he made teams pay for leaving him open from the outside as he shot 42.7% from the field as he was a lot more aggressive offensively. Also, he is probably the best rebounding point guard in the NEC and for a player barely six feet tall, he has a knack for getting to the glass and grabbing big boards. This season, he will have plenty of options to throw passes to so you might see his assist totals rise even more.
11. Matt Hunter – Guard – Senior – Central Connecticut (’12-’13 stats: 30 GP/30 starts, 15.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg)
As a junior college transfer last season, Hunter burst onto the NEC scene, playing well on both sides of the ball. He led the NEC in steals last year while being in top seven in the conference in scoring and rebounding. He produced five double-doubles a year ago and also had himself a 40-point game which came against Indiana in a blowout loss. Hunter along with teammate Kyle Vinales will prove to be a big one-two punch offensively. If Hunter improves upon his three-point shooting (31.9 % last season) this season, Howie Dickenman’s team may be a dark horse for an NEC title come March.
The final installment with the top ten players in the NEC for this upcoming season will be revealed on Monday.