The race for top honors continues to be a battle between Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger and Michigan State’s Draymond Green. But the Big Ten also is marked by good point guard play, with players like Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor, Michigan State’s Keith Appling, Michigan’s Trey Burke, Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, Purdue’s Lewis Jackson and Penn State’s Tim Frazier, among others, excelling.
1. Draymond Green, F, Michigan State, Sr. The ultimate leader and coach on the floor, Green is a jack-of-all-trades who ranks in the top 10 in the Big Ten in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocks. No other player does that.
Key stats: 15.3 ppg; 10.4 rpg; 3.7 apg
2. Jared Sullinger, C, Ohio State, So. So big, so physical, so strong. Sullinger impacts the game without even touching the ball. And by extending his game, Sullinger has become an even more complete player.
Key stats: 17.3 ppg; 9.3 rpg; 1.0 apg
3. Jordan Taylor, G, Wisconsin, Sr. The epitome of a point guard, Taylor is the quintessential coach on the court who has an uncanny knack for hitting a big shot when it’s needed. And he’s so strong on the drive, too.
Key stats: 13.9 ppg; 4.2 rpg; 4.3 apg
4. Tim Frazier, G, Penn State, Jr. A consistent bright spot on a Nittany Lion squad that has had its ups and downs. Frazier’s quickness is what sets him apart. He also is becoming a leader for this developing program.
Key stats: 17.9 ppg; 4.9 rpg; 6.3 apg
5. Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois, So. Let’s just call Leonard a “freak.” The 7-1 sophomore can run the court like a gazelle and also possesses strength that makes him a force on the block. And if that’s not enough, Leonard also can step out to 3-point range.
Key stats: 13.4 ppg; 8.0 rpg; 1.3 apg
6. John Shurna, F, Northwestern, Sr. The guy is just a natural scorer who is deadly from the perimeter while also possessing some deft moves on the blocks. He kills ‘em softly.
Key stats: 19.0 ppg; 5.9 rpg; 2.7 apg
7. William Buford, F, Ohio State, Sr. Yes, Buford has endured an up-and-down season, but he’s still a deadly shooter who is capable of lighting up at any moment and carrying the Buckeyes.
Key stats: 15.2 ppg; 4.7 rpg; 3.3 apg
8. Aaron Craft, G, Ohio State, So. He is a fierce defender who is starting to emerge as a leader for an uber-talented Buckeye squad. One minor beef: Craft at times needs to be more selfish. He also needs to refine his shooting so foes can’t sag off him.
Key stats: 8.1 ppg; 3.1 rpg; 5.0 apg
9. Cody Zeller, C, Indiana, Fr. Did you see the kid in action vs. Iowa? Eight—count ‘em—EIGHT dunks. Zeller is a unique combination of athletic ability and strength. I hope he stays four seasons in Bloomington.
Key stats: 14.7 ppg; 6.2 rpg; 1.0 apg
10. Drew Crawford, G/F, Northwestern, Jr. A smooth operator who is deadly from behind the arc and also able to put the ball on the floor and drive to the hoop. The guy can flat-out score.
Key stats: 17.2 ppg; 4.8 rpg; 2.0 apg
11. Deshaun Thomas, F, Ohio State, So. Aside from that horrible flop against Michigan on Sunday, Thomas for the most part has enjoyed a strong second season in Columbus. What’s underrated about his game? Thomas’ strength.
Key stats: 14.7 ppg; 4.3 rpg; 1.0 apg
12. Trey Burke, G, Michigan, Fr. The freshman sensation has endured some rough patches of late. The freshman wall, perhaps? But Burke remains one of the Big Ten’s best because of his quick first step and ability to make those around him better.
Key stats: 14.1 ppg; 3.7 rpg; 5.0 apg
13. Keith Appling, G, Michigan State, So. He continues to impress in his first season at the point with his quickness. Appling needs to refine his decision making and also get stronger. Still, he’s a special talent with a bright future.
Key stats: 12.3 ppg; 3.3 rpg; 4.0 apg
14. Tim Hardaway, G, Michigan, So. The guy is the classic wing player who has a sweet stroke from the perimeter, though he can get caught in funks. Still, Hardaway is a natural scorer who also can get his own shot while facing the basket.
Key stats: 15.2 ppg; 3.6 rpg; 2.4 apg
15. Robbie Hummel, F, Purdue, Sr. It was vintage Hummel at Northwestern, where he nailed a game-winning shot in the waning seconds on Saturday. He may be revving up for a furious finish to his stellar career.
Key stats: 15.2 ppg; 6.0 rpg; 1.8 apg
16. Brandon Paul, G, Illinois, Jr.: While his shooting can be suspect, there is no denying Paul’s athletic ability. And it’s that skill that makes him one of the most underrated scorers in the Big Ten.
Key stats: 14.6 ppg; 5.0 rpg; 3.0 apg
17. Christian Watford, F, Indiana, Jr. He has an NBA body and NBA range, but Watford at times can disappear. He should be a force each game working in tandem with Cody Zeller.
Key stats: 12.6 ppg; 5.6 rpg; 1.4 apg
18. Matt Gatens, G, Iowa, Sr. The sweet-shooting Gatens has been one of the few consistent bright spots for the go-go Hawkeyes, who need to tighten the defense.
Key stats: 13.2 ppg; 4.1 rpg; 2.1 apg
19. Bo Spencer, G, Nebraska, Sr. He has a scorer’s mentality and the maturity and experience to fight through adversity as program develops this season.
Key stats: 14.9 ppg; 3.0 rpg; 3.6 apg
20. Derrick Nix, C, Michigan State, Jr. The wide-body is a mismatch waiting to happen and forms one half of the Spartans’ potent twin towers of power with Adreian Payne.
Key stats: 8.1 ppg; 4.1 rpg; 1.0 apg
Others to watch: Jared Berggren, F/c, Wisconsin, Jr.; Ryan Evans, F, Wisconsin, Jr.; Jordan Hulls, G, Indiana, Jr.; Lewis Jackson, G, Purdue, Sr.; Jordan Morgan, F, Michigan, So.; Zack Novak, G, Michigan, Sr.; Lenzelle Smith, Jr., F, Ohio State, So.; Dave Sobolewski, G, Northwestern, Fr.; Rodney Williams, F, Minnesota, Jr.