By Annie Ross

Defending national champ Villanova is preparing for the Big East tournament Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

And the Cats’ two senior leaders, guard Phil Booth and forward Eric Paschall, were unanimous selections to the All-Big East team.

In addition, forward Saddiq Bey was named to the conference’s All-Freshman team.

The first team had two other unanimous selections – guards Markus Howard of Marquette and Myles Powell of Seton Hall. Also named to the team were guard Shamorie Ponds of St. John’s and center Jessie Govan of Georgetown.

Booth and Paschall were leaders on and off the court in helping carry Villanova to its fifth outright Big East regular-season championship in the last six years.

The 6-3 Booth averaged 18.6 points and 3.9 assists, ranking fifth and eighth, respectively, in the Big East. He knocked down 83 three-point baskets and his 2.68 per game average ranked sixth in the league.

The 6-8 Paschall placed eighth in the conference in scoring at 16.5 points per game, and 11th in rebounding at 6.1. He sank 62 three, two per game, which ranked 12th.

Bey, who also is 6-8, has started the last 15 games for Villanova. He averaged 8.4 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting 38.6 percent from three-point range. In Big East play, he averaged 9.0 points and 5.6 rebounds with a three-point shooting percentage of 42.5.