Dienhart: Who's My Top Star This Week?
Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger or Michigan State’s Draymond Green? Who is the best player? It may be neither. Perhaps it’s Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor or Indiana’s Cody Zeller. And how does it compare to my list from last week?
I’m also interested in your rankings. Tell me what you think in the comments box or via my mailbag. I read all of your notes and respond to as many as I can. Or save your comments and bring them to our weekly Super Wednesday Live chat on Facebook.
1. Jared Sullinger, C, Ohio State, So. Yes, the big fella had a dubious triple (17 points; 16 rebounds; 10 turnovers) in the home loss to Michigan State, but Sullinger still was a dominant force. However, he better get used to getting bumped around in the pivot—and must not get frustrated.
Key stats: 17.4 ppg; 9.0 rpg; 1.0 apg
2. Draymond Green, F, Michigan State, Sr. Without Green, the Spartans would be lost. He can score inside and out, and also can act as a “point-forward” when needed. And Green’s leadership, which was on display in that huge win at Ohio State on Saturday, is unmatched.
Key stats: 15.2 ppg; 10.6 rpg; 3.6 apg
3. Jordan Taylor, G, Wisconsin, Sr. So strong, so powerful to the hoop, such a sweet jumper, such a strong leader. Taylor is the consummate point guard who makes teammates better. And he also carries a big offensive load for a team that would be lost without him.
Key stats: 14.5 ppg; 4.0 rpg; 4.2 apg
4. Cody Zeller, C, Indiana, Fr. The precocious Zeller has a game that belies his freshman status. But perhaps even more impressive than his ample physical skills is his calm, cool, mature game. The kid plays like a senior. Amazing.
Key stats: 15.4 ppg; 6.4 rpg; 1.1 apg
5. John Shurna, F, Northwestern, Sr. Is there a more natural scorer in the Big Ten? Of course not. Shurna is coming off his third 30-point effort of the season in a loss at Purdue. He just has a knack of getting open, and has a surprisingly quick release. No wonder he leads the Big Ten a 19.9-point average.
Key stats: 19.9 ppg; 5.7 rpg; 2.5 apg
6. Tim Frazier, G, Penn State, So. Cat-quick and tough for his size, Frazier has notched 20 or more points in three of the last four games, and has eclipsed the 20-point mark 13 times this season. Frazier, the Big Ten’s No. 2 scorer and No. 1 assist man, also can distribute the ball.
Key stats: 18.5 ppg; 5.0 rpg; 6.4 apg
7. Trey Burke, G, Michigan, Fr. He’s the engine that makes the Wolverines go, pushing the temp as more of a scoring point guard than a true set-up-and-distribute point guard. Still, he’s No. 2 in the league in assists. Burke is equally adept at driving as he is shooting. The guy is flat-out special.
Key stats: 14.0 ppg; 3.5 rpg; 4.8 apg
8. Robbie Hummel, F, Purdue, Sr. The Boilermakers’ tourney hoops likely rest with Hummel’s ability to shine down the stretch. So far, so good, as his 27 points fueled Purdue’s key home win over Northwestern on Sunday.
Key stats: 15.6 ppg; 6.4 rpg; 1.8 apg
9. Keith Appling, G, Michigan State, So. With each passing game, the swift Appling continues to grow into the lead guard role more and more, though he’s more of a scoring point guard.
Key stats: 11.8 ppg; 3.3 rpg; 3.9 apg
10. Aaron Craft, G, Ohio State, So. Yes, he’s not the best shooting point guard in the Big Ten, but Craft is the best on–the-ball defender who knows how to involve teammates. He’s No. 1 in the Big Ten in steals.
Key stats: 8.1 ppg; 3.0 rpg; 4.8 apg
11. Williams Buford, F, Ohio State, Sr. He is coming off a rough outing in a home loss to Michigan State, but Buford still is one of the most dangerous wing players in the Big Ten. He’s just guilty of sometimes trying to do too much from the perimeter.
Key stats: 15.5 ppg; 4.8 rpg; 3.1apg
12. Branden Dawson, F, Michigan State, Fr. The explosive and dynamic Dawson is the ultimate finisher around the rim. And he’s also a monster on the glass on both ends of the court with uncanny strength for a freshman. Keep working on that jumper.
Key stats: 8.9 ppg; 4.7 rpg; 1.1 apg
13. Deshaun Thomas, F, Ohio State, So. He is in a bit of a funk on the offensive end, but Thomas still is an explosive talent who can dominate for stretches. Defense? Well, it still needs to be more consistent, but his athletic ability and strength can’t be denied.
Key stats: 14.6 ppg; 4.5 rpg; 0.9 apg)
14. Drew Crawford, G, Northwestern, Jr. He has a versatile game, showing strength on drives to the basket and ability to drain the open shot. Crawford has notched double-figures in scoring in eight of the last nine games. But his emotions got the best of him in a recent loss at Purdue, when he got hit with two technicals.
Key stats: 16.8 ppg; 4.6 rpg; 2.1 apg
15. Tim Hardaway Jr., G, Michigan, So. He had been mired in a funk, scoring four and six points in two games prior to breaking out for 15 in a victory vs. Illinois on Sunday. Still, Hardaway must find his stroke from 3-point land, as he’s hitting just 26.7 percent from long range.
Key stats: 14.3 ppg; 3.5 rpg; 2.5 apg
16. Christian Watford, F, Indiana, Jr. He has an NBA body and an NBA game, but consistency has been elusive. He needs to knock the open looks he gets and help crash the boards. Indiana needs him to be a difference maker.
Key stats: 12.4 ppg; 5.6 rpg; 1.3 apg
17. Zack Novak, G, Michigan, Sr. The heartbeat of Michigan, Novak is a deadly marksman who is nailing 43.3 percent of his 3-pointers. And he’s on a roll. After failing to score in a loss at Ohio State, Novak has gone off for 13, 14, 14 and 12 points in the last four games.
Key stats: 9.7 ppg; 4.7 rpg; 2.0 apg
18. Brandon Paul, G, Illinois, Jr. He’s one of the Big Ten’s top all-around talents with an ability to impact games in many different ways. But he still suffers lapses that lead to turnovers. Paul has 83 turnovers and 79 assists this season. Perhaps he tries to do too much.
Key stats: 15.2 ppg; 4.9 rpg; 3.2 apg
19. Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois, So. Few deny his ample talent. Just watch him run the court, get position, make a move on the block and score. And Leonard is an exceptional shot blocker (leads the Big Ten) and rebounder. But his game needs some maturity. It figures to come with time.
Key stats: 13.2 ppg; 8.0 rpg; 1.3 apg
20. Matt Gatens, G, Iowa, Sr. The sweet-shooting Gatens is trying to finish his Hawkeye career on an up note as Iowa makes a drive to the postseason. Just give the guy an inch, and Gatens will get a shot off, as he may be the best shooter in the league.
Key stats: 14.0 ppg; 3.8 rpg; 2.0 apg
21. D.J. Byrd, F, Purdue, Jr. Talk about rising to the occasion, Byrd is hitting his stride as the season hits the home stretch. He notched 20, 24, 15 and 12 points in the his last four games, also bringing defensive intensity and energy to the Boilermakers.
Key stats: 7.8 ppg; 1.8 rpg; 0.8 apg
22. Dave Sobolewski, G, Northwestern, Fr. If not for Michigan’s Trey Burke, “Sobo” would easily be the top freshman point guard in the Big Ten. His efficiency with the ball has been uncanny, as he continues to pace the Big Ten in assists-turnover ratio. And Sobolewski has taken his scoring to another level, averaging 16.0 points over the last four games.
Key stats: 9.1 ppg; 2.8 rpg; 3.9 apg
23. Rodney Williams, F, Minnesota, Jr. He’s the closest thing to a star on a largely star-less Golden Gopher team. Williams broke out of a mini-slump with 16 points in an overtime loss to Wisconsin, but in three games prior to that he scored an aggregate 23 points.
Key stats: 10.7 ppg; 5.2 rpg; 1.9 apg
24. Bo Spencer, G, Nebraska, Sr. He continues to play at a high level while the Huskers’ season is slumping. Spencer continues to be adept at creating his own shot, showing aplomb off the dribble-drive and as a spot-up shooter.
Key stats: 15.0 ppg; 2.7 rpg; 3.4 apg
25. Adreian Payne, C, Michigan State, So. The big guy is coming on in crunch time, notching 12 points in a win over Penn State and the playing perhaps his best game as a Spartan in tallying 15 points in that huge victory at Ohio State.
Key stats: 7.0 ppg; 4.1 rpg; 0.3 apg
OTHERS: Jared Berggren, F/C, Wisconsin, Jr. (10.4 ppg; 4.9 rpg; 0.6 apg); Ryan Evans, F/C, Wisconsin, Jr. (10.3 ppg; 6.8 rpg; 1.6 apg); Jordan Hulls, G, Indiana, Jr. ( 12.2 ppg; 2.7 rpg; 3.4 apg); Lewis Jackson, G, Purdue, Sr. (9.8 ppg; 3.2 rpg; 4.1 apg); Roy Devyn Marble, G/F, So. (11.1 ppg; 3.8 rpg; 3.3 apg); Jordan Morgan, C, Michigan, So. (7.7 ppg; 5.3 rpg; 0.3 apg); Derrick Nix, C, Michigan State, Jr. (7.6 ppg; 4.0 rpg; 1.0 apg); Aaron White, F, Iowa, Fr. (10.2 ppg; 5.3 rpg; 0.8 apg)