Jeff Gentil: Well, there are certainly more talented guys on the roster than Sean Kilpatrick, but I do think the senior is the most valuable. If he goes down with an injury or has a bad year this team won't make the NCAA Tournament. He's been around five years and still works tirelessly to make himself better, which can only make his teammates better in the long run. They see how hard he works and what it takes to be a Bearcat.
Matt Opper: It has to be SK. He has been the defacto MVP for two seasons now, even though I think he is yet to win the end of season MVP. Kila is the only reason that this team that is rebuilding from the very bottom is seen as a likely NCAA team in the preseason.
With this roster, and without SK the Bearcats would be an NIT at best. The most valuable thing about him won't wind up being his scoring or leadership, but the way that he completely monopolizes the attention of opposing defenses. And he will still wind up scoring 18 a night and grabbing 5 boards a night anyway.
Justin Post: Justin Jackson - I guess you could consider him for "Breakout Player" as well, but Mr. Mean Face will be the most VALUABLE player on this year's team, and here's why: he's the only complete low-post presence the Bearcats have. He looks a lot stronger, and the frequency with which he has committed fouls has been drastically reduced so far (in the exhibitions). I think he'll force opponents to guard someone other than Sean Kilpatrick, and that makes him highly valuable.
Matt DuMont: I'm not going to be very original with these picks. I'm guessing these would be a lot of people's choices. I'll take Kilpatrick as the team MVP. This is the year when he puts his complete game together. I'd look for him to be among the leaders in PPG in the AAC. I think, and also hope, that some of the mental mistakes we've seen from him in the past will be minimal.
Jeff Gentil: While he broke out a little in the Creighton game last year, I think Shaq Thomas is primed to take it another step or two higher. He certainly has the ability and incredible athleticism. Let's hope he is able to make the progression from just being a menial contributor last year to consistent scorer this year. With so many unknowns right now, they will need more than one scorer in Kilpatrick.
Matt Opper: JD3 has gotten completely lost in the shuffle of this huge incoming crop of talented freshmen. But this is a guy who played his fair share of crunch minutes in tight Big East games as a true freshman. He redshirted last year with an injury and has looked spotty at times in the exhibitions, but I don't care.
Davis is the kind of guy that you have to have on your team, a second year player who is never afraid to take the big shot. Who kind of sorta thinks that he should always be the one to take the shot. It will take some time to get back to playing basketball, but Davis will become a huge part of this team in conference play.
Justin Post: Shaquille Thomas - He averaged 10 minutes and 3 points a game. I'm willing to bet the rest of my mortgage (it's a brand new house) that both of those numbers will increase this year. I think you'll see him starting most games, and when the buzzer sounds each night, Thomas will have double digit points more often than not.
Matt DuMont: I'm going with Justin Jackson. I remember when he first got here, he kind of looked like a goofy, uncoordinated player with some potential of athletic ability if his body ever matured. We've seen him do some, let's call them "questionable" things on the basketball court in the past. Now with his developed athleticism and more understanding of the game (and not going against Big East competition every night), he's ready to be a huge factor on offense and especially defense for the Bearcats.
Jeff Gentil: After one game, I was very skeptical as was probably the majority of Bearcat Nation. However, after watching Saturday I can definitely see why Jermaine Lawrence was receiving so much attention and hype in high school. The kid is quick and he can handle the ball. Not sure about his range just yet, but we'll start finding that out Friday night. If he can continue to attack the rim and get to the foul line that will be a big plus for this team. So many times we've watched them pass the ball around and chuck a desperation three pointer as the shot clock expired. They need attackers and with Lawrence and Thomas they have two very promising candidates.
Matt Opper: I can see an argument to be made for Troy Caupain or Kevin Johnson, but the best newcomer designation is Lawrence's to lose. He is already the most talented basketball player on the team. The question is whether he can find a level of assertiveness to match his talent. The early indication is that he has that drive, which bodes well for him and the Bearcats.
Justin Post: Troy Caupain - This one was actually pretty tough for me. You'll notice that others here at DTD have placed Caupain and Jermaine Lawrence into the midseason starting lineups. I'm not confident either will be starting by conference play, but given their positions on the court, Caupain's going to have the ball in his hands more than Lawrence - and that's why I tapped him as the Best Newcomer over Lawrence, the highly rated freshman forward. Both appear to have great motors, but I think Caupain will get more opportunities to shine.
Matt DuMont: My Best Newcomer is going to be Jermaine Lawrence. I think this kid has too much talent not to make a huge impression in his freshman year. As Mick has said, he does need to get a little bigger and get used to the speed. I think he'll do so and will be a major contributor to the team come March.