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October 25, 2006
Big East loaded with next wave of stars
• Preseason Top 25
• Top guys off the bench
• The College Basketball Wire
Get the inside scoop on your favorite team:
The four and five-star recruits arrive with much more hype, but sometimes it's the little-known players on your roster, the backups from the previous season who can make the biggest difference.
That was certainly the case in the Big East last season.
Pittsburgh center Aaron Gray went from a role player to one of the nation's top big men, averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds. His dramatic improvement was the top factor in the Panthers' 25-8 season.
Connecticut center Hilton Armstrong was a little-used reserve during his first three years in college, but as a senior he led the league in blocks with 3.1 per game. The Huskies went 30-4, captured a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and Armstrong was later selected in the first round of the NBA Draft.
Expect similar transformations in the Big East again. Six of our top 10 sleepers hail from the 16-team conference.