Dienhart: Is Green the Player of the Year?
Entering the final week of the season, Draymond Green’s reign as the Big Ten’s top player isn’t threatened as he’s on course to take home the league’s Player of the Year honors (announced next Monday). Why not? Green is the lone player who averages a double-double. And his leadership is off the charts, as Green already has led the Spartans to a share of the Big Ten title.
But what has happened to Jared Sullinger, who is in the worst funk of the season? As Sullinger has slipped, the Buckeyes have faded from Big Ten contention. Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor, Penn State’s Tim Frazier, Indiana’s Cody Zeller and Northwestern’s John Shurna continue to excel. And how about Purdue’s Robbie Hummel, who is coming on down the stretch? All are playing well, but none are on Green’s level. I’ve been charting the top players each week. Read my latest list.
1. Draymond Green, F, Michigan State, Sr. Let’s go ahead and give him the Big Ten Player of the Year award right now. Talent, heart, guts … he does it all. Any chance Green is the National Player of the Year?
Key stats: 15.6 ppg; 10.3 rpg; 3.6 apg
2. Jared Sullinger, C, Ohio State, So. What is wrong? The last two games, he has a combined 17 points and hit 8-of-17 shots with 12 rebounds. That’s typically what Sullinger notches in a single game. The result, the Buckeyes have little chance of earning a share of the Big Ten title. Sullinger must turn it on in March.
Key stats: 17.2 ppg; 9.0 rpg; 1.0 apg
3. Jordan Taylor, G, Wisconsin, Sr. This hasn’t been the ideal senior season for Taylor, but he came up big when it mattered on Sunday by scoring 19 points to deliver a huge win at Ohio State. The Badgers had lost three of their previous five games, so that victory was huge for Wisconsin’s psyche as it turns the corner into March.
Key stats: 14.1 ppg; 3.8 rpg; 4.2 apg
4. Tim Frazier, G, Penn State, Jr. Night in and night out, Frazier is a hallmark of consistency. He has scored over 20 points on 15 times this season despite the best efforts of the opposition. Shooting, driving … Frazier finds a way to get it done on the scoreboard.
Key stats: 18.7 ppg; 4.8 rpg; 6.3 apg
5. Cody Zeller, C, Indiana, Fr. The guy showed he’s human after all with that seven-point effort in the win at Minnesota that broke a string of seven consecutive games with double-figure scoring. Still, Zeller is special with the way he runs the court. And he has such a high hoop IQ for a youngster.
Key stats: 15.7 ppg; 6.6 rpg; 1.2 apg
6. John Shurna, F, Northwestern, Sr. The Big Ten’s top scorer continues to dominate, drawing a big foul at the end of the Penn State game and then sinking the winning free throws to steal a victory to keep the Wildcats in the hunt for an NCAA bid. Shurna just finds a way to score, and it’s impressive.
Key stats: 20.1 ppg; 5.4 rpg; 2.7 apg
7. Robbie Hummel, F, Purdue, Sr. He is putting the team on his back down the stretch, averaging 23 and 8 rebounds in wins over Nebraska and at Michigan last week. Hummel is shooting well while still giving max effort on the glass and defense, do his best to cap his career with a bang.
Key stats: 16.5 ppg; 7.0 rpg; 1.9 apg
8. Matt Gatens, G, Iowa, Sr. The sweet-shooting Gatens averaged 27.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in two games last week. He scored a career-high 33 points vs. Wisconsin and had 22 points at Illinois. The guy is one of the hottest shooters in America. Enough said.
Key stats: 15.5 ppg; 3.8 rpg; 1.9 apg
9. William Buford, F, Ohio State, Sr. He is shooting a career-low 43.2 percent from the field. Buford also is hitting only 37.9 percent of his three-pointers, and has had four- and six-point efforts this month. Bottom line: It hasn’t been a great senior season.
Key stats: 15.1 ppg; 4.8 rpg; 3.0 apg
10. Keith Appling, G, Michigan State, So. He needs to be a little more decisive on his decision-making and improve his consistency on his three-pointers. And his scoring has slipped, as Appling has an aggregate 22 points in the last three games.
Key stats: 11.7 ppg; 3.0 apg; 3.8 apg
11. Trey Burke, G, Michigan, Fr. Another nice week for the freshman sensation. Burke averaged 15.5 points, 4.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds en route to earning Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors for a second week in a row and the sixth time this season.
Key stats: 14.2 ppg; 3.4 rpg; 4.8 apg
12. Drew Crawford, G, Northwestern, Jr. Crawford is a natural scorer who is equally adept at driving to the hole as he is at pulling up for a jumper. He needs to take his game to another level the last week if the Wildcats hope to reach the Big Dance for the first time.
Key stats: 16.1 ppg; 4.5 rpg; 2.0 apg
13. Deshaun Thomas, F, Ohio State, So. Yes, Thad Matta didn’t like that shot he took at the end of the home loss to Wisconsin, but Thomas has taken his scoring to another level the last three games by averaging 22.3 points on 23-of-36 shooting (63.9 percent) with 25 rebounds.
Key stats: 14.8 ppg; 4.7 rpg; 0.8 apg
14. Christian Watford, F, Indiana, Jr. Up and down; up and down. That has epitomized Watford’s season. He had three points total on 0-of-13 shooting from the field in the two games before notching 12 in the win at Minnesota on Sunday. Watford needs to stay dialed in with March around the corner.
Key stats: 11.6 ppg; 5.3 rpg; 1.3 apg
15. Ryan Evans, F, Wisconsin, Jr. Evans is capping a breakout season, setting career highs in virtually every category while being a key cog on a good Badgers team. Evans has scored in double-figures in each of the last eight games. His second double-double of the season came in that huge win at Ohio State on Sunday.
Key stats: 10.7 ppg; 6.9 rpg; 1.6 apg
16. Victor Oladipo, G, Indiana, So. The super-athletic Oladipo is a defensive force who continues to come on offensively on the drive and as a shooter. If you are scoring at home, that’s six games in a row with over double-figures in scoring for one of the most underrated players in the league.
Key stats: 11.2 ppg; 5.3 rpg; 1.8 apg
17. Roy Devyn Marble, G, Iowa, So. He continues to develop as a ball handler and shooter, and he looks like a star of the future—if he isn’t one already. Marble has scored in double-figures in 11 of the past 12 games, and is becoming a leader.
Key stats: 11.1 ppg; 4.0 rpg; 3.7 apg
18. Branden Dawson, F, Michigan State, Fr. The explosive Dawson has played well most of the year but may be hitting a bit of a wall. He has scored in double-figures just one time in the last five games.
Key stats: 8.7 ppg; 4.7 rpg; 1.0 apg
19. Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois, So. What a week for Leonard, notching 22 points with 14 boards in the win vs. Iowa that ended the Illini’s six-game losing streak. He also was good in the loss at Ohio State with 21 points and five boards. Welcome back, Meyers!
Key stats: 13.1 ppg; 7.9 rpg; 1.4 apg
20. Lewis Jackson, G, Purdue, Sr. A healthy Lewis Jackson is good for Purdue, which has won four of its last five. Jackson continues to excel on drives to the basket, and his assist-to-turnover ratio is outstanding. Plus, he can knock down the open shot.
Key stats: 10.2 ppg; 3.1 rpg; 4.2 apg
21. Aaron Craft, G, Ohio State, So. He shot well last week, hitting 10-of-15 shots and scoring an aggregate 24 points the last two games. And, of course, Craft continues to play tremendous on-the-ball defense and do what he can to inspire a listing Buckeye ship in the dying days of February.
Key stats: 8.3 ppg; 2.9 rpg; 4.6 apg
22. Brandon Paul, G, Illinois, Jr. He followed a two-point outing at Nebraska and a nine-point effort in a loss at Ohio State by pouring in 17 points in that big win over Iowa that stopped the bleeding. Paul is good—when he takes good shots and plays within himself.
Key stats:14.7 ppg; 4.7 rpg; 3.0 apg
23. Aaron White, F, Iowa, Fr. How can you not like White’s game? The kid runs the court with abandon, setting picks, hitting shots, making passes and crashing the boards. He’s a do-it-all type who will be the foundation of the future for the Hawkeyes.
Key stats: 10.4 ppg; 5.6 rpg; 0.8 apg
24. Tim Hardaway, Jr. G, Michigan, So. His shooting woes continue, as Hardaway is hitting only 41.3 percent of his shots and just 26.4 of his three-pointers. He hit just 9-of-25 shots in two games last week, and had only 10 points in that home loss to Purdue.
Key stats: 14.1 ppg; 3.6 rpg; 2.3 apg
25. Bo Spencer, G, Nebraska, Sr. He has been a steady offensive force all season long. And that ankle injury he suffered in the loss at Michigan State doesn’t appear serious enough to keep him out down the stretch. And that’s a good thing.
Key stats: 15.1 ppg; 2.6 rpg; 3.4 apg
Melsahn Basabe, F, Iowa, So. (8.2 ppg; 5.0 rpg; 0.4 apg)
Jared Berggren, C, Wisconsin, Jr. (10.3 ppg; 4.9 rpg; 0.6 apg)
D.J. Byrd, F/G, Purdue, Jr. (8.2 ppg; 2.0 rpg; 0.9 apg)
Jordan Hulls, G, Indiana, Jr. (11.1 ppg; 2.6 rpg; 3.4 apg)
Derrick Nix, C, Michigan State, Jr. (7.8 ppg; 3.7 rpg; 1.1 apg)
Zack Novak, G, Michigan, Sr. (9.6 ppg; 4.6 rpg; 1.9 apg)
Adreian Payne, C, Michigan State, So. (6.8 ppg; 4.0 rpg; 0.3 apg)
Dave Sobolewski, G, Northwestern, Fr. (9.2 ppg; 2.7 rpg; 3.6 apg)
Julian Welch, G, Minnesota, Jr. (10.5 ppg; 2.6 rpg; 3.2 apg)
Rodney Williams, F, Minnesota, Jr. (11.0 ppg; 5.4 rpg; 1.8 apg)
Brandon Wood, G, Michigan State, Sr. (8.2 ppg; 2.9 rpg; 2.2 apg)