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With the Tourney close, so is the NBA for Whitehead

[caption id="attachment_13736" align="alignnone" width="736"]© Joey Khan Photography © Joey Khan Photography[/caption]

  He is a consensus first-team Big East Selection, was the CBS Na- tional Player of the Week and the Big East Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, but this guy is on zero NBA mock drafts. That is the life of Pirate guard Isaiah Whitehead. The sophomore superstar from Brooklyn took the Big East by storm this season, finishing first in three-point field goals per game (2.9), second in points per game (20.0), third in assists (5.5) and third in blocks (1.7). No, that last stat was not a typo. Whitehead finished third in the league in swats a game – as a point guard. Still, no draft love for the man who has propelled the Hall to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006. and are two of the top professional mock draft websites. Neither lists Whitehead in the first or second round. For a player who has been beating the odds ever since a shaky freshman season, Whitehead doesn’t seem to look at – or even care – what those sites say. “Last year people were saying I wouldn’t be a good college basketball player,” Whitehead said. “But if you look this year, I mean things have changed. So I mean, in this world right now it’s just based on everyone’s opinion. Those mock drafts are really nothing to look at to me.” Kris Dunn – who plays alongside Whitehead in the Big East – and Melo Trimble of Maryland, are two point guards projected by both of those sites as top draft picks. Dunn ranks fifth overall in both and Trimble is slated at No. 31 on DraftExpress and No. 32 on NBADraft.
While Dunn won his second straight Big East Player of the Year award, Whitehead made a strong case that he was overlooked. Dunn averaged 16 points per game, 6.4 assists and 5.5 rebounds coupled with 2.5 steals. Trimble’s case is not nearly as strong. Averaging 14.7 points per contest, 5.2 assists and 3.5 rebounds, he has solid numbers throughout the stat sheet, but they pale in comparison to Whitehead’s averages. While both of the draft-projected guards are garnering more respect than Whitehead, the Pirate still believes he is in the same class as those two, regardless of what draft boards say. “Definitely, 100 percent,” Whitehead said. “I bet if you asked them, they’ll say the same thing. Just by me competing with Melo, since probably like eighth grade. And then me competing with Kris these last two years, and he would probably say the same thing if you asked him.”
With March Madness getting started and much more work to be done, Whitehead has a shot to boost his draft stock. ESPN’s Chad Ford lists Whitehead as the 20th-best player in the dance. Despite his high level of play, the Pirate star is not fully committed to jumping ship. “I mean, I really don’t know what the future holds. If the opportunity presents itself, then I’ll take it. But other than that, man, I’m a Seton Hall Pirate.”   Dennis Chambers can be reached at dennis.chambers@student.shu. edu or on Twitter @DennisChambers_.

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