Myles Powell completed transition to starter as a sophomore, and was rewarded with Big East's Most Improved Player award. (Photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)
Kevin Willard has been effusive in his praise of Myles Powell throughout the season. As it turned out, the Seton Hall coach was not the only one who held his sophomore guard in such high esteem.
Powell was named the Most Improved Player in the Big East Conference Monday morning, the final bow on a second season in South Orange that saw the Trenton native average 15.6 points per game in his first campaign as a starter for a Pirate team that goes into this week's Big East Tournament with a 21-10 record and hoping to improve their prospective NCAA Tournament seeding with a deep run through the conference.
"I'm really proud and happy for Myles," Willard said on the Big East coaches' conference call after it was announced that Powell had been recognized as Seton Hall's second recipient of his newly-bestowed honor, joining current Pirate assistant coach Shaheen Holloway, who won the award in 2000. "He's put in a tremendous amount of hard work in his body for the last two years, and he's really worked hard on his game to become more than just a great shooter. He's really worked on his passing, his driving, so for the coaches to recognize him, I think it's great, because he's really worked hard."
Powell's progression has been multifaceted on all fronts this season as Khadeen Carrington has transitioned into the point guard for the Pirates, earning plaudits from Willard and his teammates for his ability to not only score in bunches, but also get teammates involved at opportune times. In recent games, his assist and rebound numbers have upticked to offset a shooting slump, the latter being a factor that Willard is unfazed by.
"I think some of his cold shooting is just the fact that I think everyone really understands, especially since Desi (Rodriguez) hasn't been out there, he's a guy that could really change the game quickly with his shooting," said Willard. "I think Myles has done a great job of understanding that guys are running at him. He's doing a good job spacing the court, and I think he's really maturing in the fact that he knows he can impact the game by more than just shooting."
Seton Hall, who also saw Angel Delgado and Desi Rodriguez recognized as second team all-Big East selections, opens the Big East Tournament Thursday evening as the No. 3 seed, meeting No. 6 seed Butler in a quarterfinal matchup. Tipoff is slated for 9:30 p.m.