Dienhart: Big Ten Hoops Player Rankings

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart’s weekly Big Ten player rankings are in, with the same big men remaining at the head of the class. Those players, of course, are Indiana’s Cody Zeller, Michigan State’s Draymond Green and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger.

But who is the Big Ten’s top guard? See Dienhart’s top 15 Big Ten players, plus his next 10, in this post. Also, get ready for Tuesday night’s slate of action with our Big Ten scoreboard.

1. Jared Sullinger, C, Ohio State, So. - A man among boys, Sullinger is a lethal combination of talent and effort who never takes a night off. The loss at Illinois seems to have galvanized the big fella, who looked like one of the Big Ten’s best players in a dominating win over Indiana on Sunday.
Key stats: 17.4 ppg; 9.3 rpg; 0.9 apg

2. Draymond Green, F, Michigan State, Sr. – He’s a force down low who can score on the blocks with an array of low-post moves. And Green has extended his game to the 3-point arc to make him an even more dynamic weapon.
Key stats: 15.8 ppg; 10.1 rpg; 3.4 apg

3. Cody Zeller, C, Indiana, Fr. - Athletic ability, savvy, low-post moves, shooting touch. It’s this simple: There is no freshman big man who has a more complete game than Zeller. He’s also a good passer out of the post who probably should take more shots.
Key stats: 14.7 ppg; 6.5 rpg; 1.1 apg

4. Tim Frazier, G, Penn State, Jr. - Is there a more underrated player in the nation? Of course not. Frazier leads the Big Ten in assists and has the ability to get his own shot each time down the court, thanks to a quick first step to the basket. When foes over play Frazier’s dribble, he’s able to pull up for a jumper.
Key stats: 18.1 ppg; 5.4 rpg; 6.7 apg.

5. John Shurna, F, Northwestern, Sr. – The baby-faced bomber showed his moxie in the win over Michigan State, battling through a rough shooting day (5-14) to still finish with 22 points by getting to the line (10-11). The Big Ten’s leading scorer always finds a way to get his points.
Key stats: 19.1 ppg; 6.1 rpg; 2.8 apg

6. William Buford, G, Ohio State, Sr. - He’s a force on the wing, running the court. Buford is equally adept at pulling up for a jumper or driving to the basket. He’s also injecting much-needed leadership for this talented Buckeye squad.
Key stats: 15.4 ppg; 4.6 rpg; 3.4 apg

7. Keith Appling, G, Michigan State, So. – The converted off-guard injects the go-go into the Spartan offense with his uncanny quickness and passing aplomb. And in addition to making teammates better, Appling can score in transition or with his shot.
Key stats: 12.9 ppg; 3.4 rpg; 3.8 apg

8. Deshaun Thomas, F, Ohio State, So. - Thomas’ game has a lot to like, what with the sweet shot and his ability to get to the basket for easy looks. Thomas also has uncommon strength to go along with his quickness.
Key stats: 15.3 ppg; 4.2 rpg; 0.9 apg

9. Robbie Hummel, F, Purdue, Sr. - Hummel is capable of carrying the Boilermakers but at times may force the action. Why? Because this is a team that lacks myriad scoring options. Still, Hummel is the quintessential do-it-all talent who has a rare skill set.
Key stats: 16.0 ppg; 6.0 rpg; 1.7 apg

10. Drew Crawford, G/F, Northwestern, Jr. – The No. 3 scorer in the Big Ten, Crawford forms a deadly duo with John Shurna—the No. 1 scorer in the Big Ten. Crawford is an underrated athlete who can shoot and penetrate.
Key stats: 17.6 ppg; 4.8 rpg; 2.1 apg

11. Aaron Craft, G, Ohio State, So. - The former high school quarterback sensation is the ultimate court general, directing traffic for perhaps the most talented team in the conference. Craft could score more but defers to teammates, setting them up for scoring opportunities.
Key stats: 8.1 ppg; 3.2 rpg; 5.2 apg.

12. Tim Hardaway, G, Michigan, So. – The silky smooth Hardaway can score from anywhere on the court with a sweet jumper or dribble-drive to the basket. He’s the consummate scorer and a future pro.
Key stats: 15.7 ppg; 3.6 rpg; 2.6 apg

13. Trey Burke, G, Michigan, Fr. - The precocious Burke has an uncanny ability to know when to push the pace or when to slow things down. Few could have envisioned the impact the youngster is having.
Key stats: 14.3 ppg; 3.6 rpg; 4.9 apg

14. Jordan Taylor, G, Wisconsin, Sr. - The prototypical lead guard, Taylor never wavered when the Badgers were struggling a few weeks ago. He led the Badgers to two wins last week and has them back in the thick of a jumbled Big Ten race.
Key stats: 13.5 ppg; 3.9 rpg; 4.5 apg

15. Christian Watford, F, Indiana, Jr. - With Cody Zeller commanding attention in the paint, Watford has been able to play more often facing the basket. And he has excelled, roaming the 3-point line to shoot or drive.
Key stats: 12.9 ppg; 5.5 rpg; 1.4 apg

Others to watch:
16. Brandon Paul, G, Illinois, Jr.
17. Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois, So.
18. Bo Spencer, G, Nebraska, Sr.
19. Matt Gatens, G, Iowa, Sr.
20. Victor Oladipo, G, Indiana, So.
21. Rodney Williams, F, Minnesota, Jr.
22. Jordan Hulls, G, Indiana, Jr.
23. Devyn Marble, G Iowa, So.
24. Dave Sobolewski, G, Northwestern, Fr.
25. Julian Welch, G, Minnesota, Jr.

Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for BTN.com. Find all of his work at www.btn.com/tomdienhart, follow Dienhart on Twitter at @BTNTomDienhart, send a question to his weekly mailbag here, and click here to subscribe to his RSS feed.

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4 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (4 Comments)
Kim on 1/16/2012 @ 7:26pm EDT Said:

There is no way Jared Sullinger is more valuable to his team than Draymond Green is to the Spartans. Sullinger will be a better pro, but Draymond Green does more for his team now. He leads the Spartans in points, rebounding, minutes, steals, blocks, and is a close second in assists. That’s without mentioning his most important contribution, which is his leadership. No one in the big ten, possibly the country does more for his team.

    Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer on 1/20/2012 @ 11:16am EDT Said:

    Great points. You can’t beat the all-around contributions of Green. The guy has been productive on the stat sheet. And you also mention his intangibles as a leader. Invaluable. It all makes me wonder who will be named Big Ten player of the year?

Nathan on 1/17/2012 @ 5:10pm EDT Said:

I cannot believe Brandon Paul didn’t crack the top 15. Since mid-December he has really hit is stride and elevated his game in averaging almost 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals per game. DJ Byrd has also come on for Purdue to help Robbie Hummel by averaging 12 pts/game while shooting just under 60% from the field and 54% from behind the arc against what is arguably the toughest conference in the nation.

    Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer on 1/20/2012 @ 11:13am EDT Said:

    Good points. Paul probably should have been there. With his effort last night vs. Penn State, he finally may have the consistency he has lacked. That was the big reason why I held back on him. You never really knew what you were going to get from week to week.

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