Posh Alexander couldn’t ask for better company.
Only two Big East players in the past 30 years have been named the Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.
Allen Iverson and Alexander.
“I never saw [Iverson] play, but watching him on YouTube I just feel like he’s a monster,” the St. John’s point guard from Brooklyn said over Zoom on Thursday.
Alexander is pretty impressive in own right. His coach, Mike Anderson, called him “the igniter,” the player who makes his team go. The 6-foot floor general, known for his defense and playmaking, keyed fourth-seeded St. John’s strong finish to the regular season in which it won nine of its last 12 games.
“He is wired for defense,” Anderson said. “Most kids when they come from high school or junior college they come with their offensive arsenal, that’s what they want to impress everybody with, that they can score. Well this guy, I have said from Day 1, he will pick you up right when you get off the bus.”
Alexander, the Big East leader in steals at 2.6 per game, missed the final two contests last week with a sprained right thumb, but he returned to practice this week and said he will be available for Thursday’s Big East Tournament quarterfinal against No. 5 Seton Hall at the Garden. He will also be able to play in front of friends and family for the first time this year, as each team will get 100 tickets for Thursday’s games.
“I am just happy, excited and I can’t wait to just play,” Alexander said.
When Kevin Willard hits the recruiting trail, the Seton Hall coach should just recite Sandro Mamukelashvili’s career, from an unsung three-star recruit to sharing the Big East Player of the Year honor as a senior.
The 6-foot-11 Mamukelashvili, an unheralded prospect who improved each season, was honored on Wednesday, along with Villanova duo Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Collin Gillespie.
“At first I went crazy, screaming into the phone,” Mamukelashvili said over Zoom. “I worked so hard for it.”
The southpaw is the second Seton Hall player in as many years to win the honor, following Myles Powell last year. Mamukelashvili averaged 17.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists, and is one of five finalists for the Karl Malone Award as the nation’s top power forward. He is the fourth Pirate to be named Big East Player of the Year, following Powell, Terry Dehere (1993) and Dan Callandrillo (1982).
Mamukelashvili’s teammate, junior Ike Obiagu, was named the league’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The 7-foot-2 accounting major had a 3.7 GPA and will graduate in May. He plans to attend graduate school next year at Seton Hall.