The start of the 2014-2015 men’s basketball season meant one thing at Seton Hall—Isaiah Whitehead.
The McDonald’s All-American was at the helm of Seton Hall basketball last year as he came in as a top recruit in the heavily scouted class. The spotlight on Whitehead soon moved away as he suffered a stress fracture in the second and third metatarsal bones in his right foot. The injury left him out for a bulk of the season, forcing head coach Kevin Willard to look for new freshmen to step up.
The rookies who did? Khadeen Carrington and Big East Rookie of the Year Angel Delgado.
Now that Whitehead is healthy and all three players have experience under their belts, they will look to lead the team this season.
Carrington and Delgado know what it is like to work with each other. The two of them played together in high school on the same AAU team.
This year will be different for the three returners for different reasons. Carrington and Whitehead are now in control of the guard positions while Delgado is still developing at forward.
When it comes to playing closer together as guards, Carrington is confident in himself and Whitehead.
“It’ll work well,” he said. “We have good chemistry on and off the court. Once you have good chemistry off the court it goes onto the court. We both know how to handle a lot along with Derrick [Gordon]. I’m looking forward to it.”
“Each of us know what each other is going to do at each point during the game,” Carrington added. “He likes to shoot off the dribble, I like to get to the basket, so it kinda compliments each other.”
Whitehead believes Carrington deserves more attention than he has been getting.
“He’s a great player. Last year he showed flashes and I think he’s gonna be a lot more consistent this year.”
Carrington also knows just how different this year is going to be compared to last.
“Last year I just came off the bench. We had Sterling, we had Isaiah. This year, as one of the leaders of the team, I think I have to be more vocal, more aggressive from the start. I’m trying to be one of the leaders with Angel and Isaiah. Coach is looking for us to lead the team and we’re up for the challenge.”
Over the summer, Carrington spent most of his time improving his playing style in South Orange.
“I stayed here all summer and worked out. I knew I had to work on my jump shot, so I worked with the coaches and Isaiah, Angel and Ish [Sanogo],” Carrington said
“Khadeen really got into the gym this summer,” Willard said. “He was here the whole time and he worked every single day. I think that is what’s really going to propel him to have a good season. He’s really determined to break out this season.”
While most of the returners were at the Hall practicing over the summer, Delgado was busy playing for his native Dominican Republic in the Pan Am Games. Even though he spent most of his time playing basketball, Willard believes Delgado came back at a lower level than expected.
“I don’t think he’s as far along as I would like him to be,” Wil- lard said. “I think he’s now just getting into the groove of things.”
Delgado has taken these words from Willard and has worked with him in order to better him- self and develop on the curt.
“This year coach Willard helped me to mature,” Delgado said. “Last year was different. I was a freshman and I was selfish. This year is going to be different because I’m not. Like coach Willard says, ‘A freshman is a little kid.’ Now we gotta be mature and be leaders.”
When it comes to playing alongside Whitehead, Delgado wants to be there to help his fellow teammate achieve his dreams: “I really want this guy to be the best player in the country.”
Always an optimist, Delgado is thrilled with where his team is at this point.
“I feel like the team gets better every single practice and I’m happy about that.”
Olivia Mulvihill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. edu or on twitter at OliviaMulvihill.