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NEC: The 20 Most Coveted Assets

Who are the top-20 most coveted assets in the NEC? Nelson Castillo of the Blackbirds Hoops Journal helps evaluate our rankings.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

So, I thought this idea was dead, I really did. I couldn't figure out how to properly assign value to players when there isn't a salary cap and players don't have contracts. On the surface, it seemed like every promising freshman would carry far more value than any other class.

But after watching ESPN's Grantland Basketball Hour on Sunday, I became inspired to group players rather than do a traditional ranking. I brought in Nelson Castillo of the Blackbirds Hoops Journal to provide his assessment on each group and what teams may or may not be interested. His comments are in italics.

Keep in mind, this assessment is based on the current standings (as of 2/11) in the conference. Above all else, this is a fun column that's meant to be an enjoyable read, nothing more.

"You have one minute. Go!"

20.) Mustafa Jones - Senior guard - FDU

19.) Gerrell Martin - Senior guard - LIU

18.) Dyami Starks - Senior guard - Bryant

I would only trade for someone in this group if I was a top-two or three team in the NEC and I needed one shooter to get me over the hump in order to reach the NEC championship given the short amount of eligibility they have remaining. The only team I could see trade for Dyami Starks is CCSU and at this point, why bother.

If I'm a SFBK or RMU, I could see a scenario where I would try and get a Jones or a Martin. I think a shooter like a Martin who fit SFBK best but who would LIU want in return? The only player I would see LIU wanting is Amdy Fall and SFBK isn't giving him up.

"Yes, we're related through marriage...fine, but I am going to be on mute."

17.) Brandon Peel - Junior forward - CCSU

16.) Gregory Graves - Junior forward - The Mount

15.) Amdy Fall - Junior forward - SFC

14.) Ronnie Drinnon - Junior forward - SFU

This is an interesting group. I think all four would be in demand. The two I would like to have most on my team would be Peel and Fall. Fall is the NEC Defensive Player of the Year in my opinion. What team is going to want a guy whose splits are near 7ppg/5rpg/3bpg/50% FG in just 24 mpg? The thing is he's a junior so he has just one year of eligibility remaining possibly. He is kind of guy you get in the offseason if you're all in for next season.

Peel has been tremendous this season. He might be someone you might actually get without having to return too much. That would make him far more attractive. Graves and Drinnon are good players worth trading for in the right situations. I personally like Drinnon so I would take a look at him.

"It all depends (eligibility)..."

13.) Rodney Pryor - Junior guard - RMU

I think Pryor is a perfect fit in the perfect system at RMU. I'm not sure he would be as successful elsewhere. I would pass on him.

"We'll never trade him, but I do need to kill five minutes, so go ahead."

12.) Joe O'Shea - Senior guard - Bryant

11.) Lucky Jones - Senior guard/forward - RMU

10.) Marcus Burton - Senior guard - Wagner

Another group of seniors. I like O'Shea and Jones but if I'm in win-now mode, the guy I'll try and grab is easily Burton. He is having an insane season. He has carried Wagner through most of their season so far. The price for him would be large since they are in playoff contention and he is pretty much their only true scoring threat.

I think he would be too rich to give up young guys for. I couldn't see a SFBK or RMU go after him. Maybe an SFU would take a chance but wouldn't have much to offer in return to get him unless they are giving up a Malik Harmon plus one more guy.

"He's worth more to me than he is to you."

9.) De'Von Barnett - Sophomore forward - SHU

8.) Dan Garvin - Sophomore forward - Bryant

Both are young talents and building block pieces. Any NEC team would love to get their hands on these two guys to be their cornerstone for the next two years. I personally would love to get my hands on Dan Garvin. He can play on both ends. He isn't easily intimidated. He is a leader already. I would consider trading a couple of young quality chips for a player like Garvin. Barnett is a good player as well but I like Garvin's ceiling more.

"You can't be serious?!?"

7.) Brent Jones - Senior guard - SFC

6.) Earl Brown - Senior forward - SFU

5.) Jalen Cannon - Senior forward - SFC

Now we come to group that I feel are all "untradeable". If you take away any of these guys from their team, you essentially take away the heart and souls of their teams. Take away any of these guys from their individual teams and put them on another NEC team and they are instant contenders. I would hang up the phone if someone wanted any of these three guys. Especially, with these three guys in their teams current situation.

"Never call here again!"

4.) Cane Broome - Freshman guard - SHU

3.) Matt Mobley - Sophomore guard - CCSU

Sacred Heart won't taking any request for Cane Broome. Nor should they! He is a bondafide gem who is going to run that offense for the next three years after Phil Gaetano graduates this year. The only way to get Broome would be to pry him away from Anthony Latina's cold, dead hands. He is an untradeable stud.

Mobley is an interesting one. He has played on a bad team for two seasons now and one that doesn't look like is going to get better anytime soon. He's had a great season stats-wise. He has been fortunate that he's had the freedom on a bad team to take a ton of shots. I could see a team like Bryant go after a Mobley to replace the departing Dyami Starks and they probably wouldn't miss a beat in the next two years.

If I'm CCSU, what are my plans? If I think I could be good next year and bring in a solid recruiting class, I keep Mobley and make him my cornerstone. If I think it is time for a fresh start, I move Mobley and try and get as many good players back in return as I can.

"Hello? Are you still there?"

2.) Nura Zanna

1.) Marcquise Reed

Nura Zanna has the potential to be one of the best bigs in the NEC for the next three years. In a conference like the NEC, you don't give away size and you don't give away size that can score inside. He is an untradeable. Once he starts getting his foul issues under control, he's going to be one of best player in the conference.

Reed is going to be NEC Rookie of the Year and has a chance of making All-NEC first-team. His splits are insane, but for a freshman, are out of this world. How do you give away a freshman whose splits are 15ppg/53% FG/45% 3FG/75% FT/2spg and scores with relative ease? You don't. He is a true find for Andy Toole and a player you know you'll be relying on for all four years.

A few notes:

  • It was hard not including more freshman, particularly Marques Townes of FDU and guard/forward Bosko Kostur of Bryant. There are a lot of talented freshman in the NEC right now. My hesitancy is that incoming freshman may be able to replicate their production, hence reducing their future value.
  • Why so many upperclassmen? Keep in mind, teams are still trying to win this season and would trade to get experienced players who can help immediately.
  • Pryor makes this list because he may still have two years of eligibility remaining. If he only has one more, it would be hard to include him.