Team USA: Who'd fill out a Big Ten-only roster?

Team USA tips off its Olympic training slate with its first exhibition game Thursday in Las Vegas. USA is stacked, per usual, and it’s the favorite to win gold next month in London. With the action about to start, I got to thinking: what if Team USA was comprised of only former Big Ten players, starting with the 2007-08 season (the BTN era)? See what my 12-man roster would look like in this post.

Why only players who finished their careers between the 2007-08 and 2011-12 seasons? The reason is three-fold: 1. Team USA doesn’t use college players anymore; 2. it’s a span of five seasons (a nice round number); and 3. you have to start these things with some arbitrary year.

It’s important to realize that only the players’ college contributions went into consideration. Also, I tried to make the most well-rounded, versatile team, meaning, in some cases, an inferior player with a rare skill set got the nod over a superior player. Kind of like Tayshaun Prince in the 2008 Olympics.

Who did I miss? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment box below.

Ohio State's Evan Turner Arms UpSTARTING 5
PG: Kalin Lucas, Michigan State – Speedy point guard is perfect guy to lead prolific offense.
SG: Eric Gordon, Indiana – Can score from anywhere, can get to the rim, can draw his share of fouls.
SF: Evan Turner, Ohio State – A triple-double threat every time he touches the floor.
PF: D.J. White, Indiana – Powerful frame, dominant rebounder, terrific shot-blocker.
C: JaJuan Johnson, Purdue – Efficient scorer who can do work inside or outside.

G: Talor Battle, Penn State – An ideal sixth man with his ability to do it all and score in bunches.
G: Chris Kramer, Purdue – Every team needs defense, and there’s no one better than Kramer.
G: E’Twaun Moore, Purdue – An adept scorer who can create his own shot and get to the basket.
F: Draymond Green, Michigan State – Versatility is so huge, especially his ability to handle the rock.
F: Robbie Hummel, Purdue – Solid scorer, strong rebounder and an underrated defender.
F: Damian Johnson, Minnesota – A versatile defender who can guard 2s through small 5s.
C: Meyers Leonard, Illinois – Can’t underestimate his height and athleticism.

Strengths: Scoring, depth, versatility, leadership, defense.
Weaknesses: Outside shooting, depth at point guard and center.

BIGGEST SNUBS: Many Harris, Michigan; John Shurna, Northwestern; Jared Sullinger, Ohio State; Jon Leuer, Wisconsin … You also could make a case for Ohio State, as a whole, winner of three Big Ten titles during this span.

And just for fun, here’s my starting 5 for the entire 2000s:

PG: Dee Brown, Illinois
SG: Evan Turner, Ohio State
SF: Alando Tucker, Wisconsin
PF: D.J. White, Indiana
C: Greg Oden, Ohio State

Brent Yarina is a web editor and blogger for Find all of his work here and follow him on twitter at @BTNBrentYarina.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (17 Comments)
T Grant on 7/12/2012 @ 3:23pm EDT Said:

Mike Connelly and Greg Ogden ge my votes for at least coming off the bench. A little heavy on Purdue players.

    Brent Yarina, on 7/12/2012 @ 3:36pm EDT Said:

    Both excellent players, no doubt. But both played the season before timeframe being considered.

Justin on 7/12/2012 @ 4:05pm EDT Said:

No Gatens, even among the snubs? I know he wasn’t always the player he was this year and Iowa obviously struggled most of his time there, but I think he deserves some consideration for his shooting, defense, and leadership.

Bob Brooks on 7/12/2012 @ 5:10pm EDT Said:

Somebody loves Indiana and Purdue a little too much. There were major snubs all over the place.

    Brent Yarina, on 7/12/2012 @ 5:14pm EDT Said:

    That’s probably the first time someone’s uttered the words “Somebody loves Indiana AND Purdue a little too much.”

Mike on 7/12/2012 @ 5:11pm EDT Said:

I think you gotta have Sullinger in there instead of Damian Johnson. I would also consider Jordan Taylor over Battle. Although Battle can score in bunches off the bench, Jordan never turns the ball over and is a much more physical presence. I am lovin all the Purdue players though…BOILER UP!!

    Brent Yarina, on 7/12/2012 @ 5:20pm EDT Said:

    Sullinger was high on my list, believe it or not, but I tried to build the most all-around, versatile team. Sully can score, but Damian, for example, has a rarer skill set that could play well with the other talent. But yes, Sullinger, Taylor and other guys out there are better than some of the guys I included. But Tayshaun Prince was on Team USA for a reason.

Darren Mooney (@DarrenMooney3) on 7/12/2012 @ 5:17pm EDT Said:

In the just for fun part, with the top 5 from the 2000 era, I would have had Deron Williams from Illinois over Dee Brown.

    Brent Yarina, on 7/12/2012 @ 5:21pm EDT Said:

    Deron was terrific, but Dee Brown was one HECK of a college player. Many will argue he was the better college player.

Jordan on 7/12/2012 @ 5:32pm EDT Said:

I see how Purdue had such a wealth of talent over the years but by the team records over this span of time, how can this be? Even with all these great players, they barely made it out of the first round of the tourney in any of these years. Can Michigan get no love? No Manny Harris? I mean the guy averaged over 16 points a season. He could create shots better than E’Twaun Moore and Harris was a great rebunder for a guard, seeing how he averaged 5 plus rebounds every season except his freshman year which he still averaged four.

    Brent Yarina, on 7/12/2012 @ 6:09pm EDT Said:

    Manny Harris put up some serious numbers, as you referenced, and I’ve added him to the “biggest snubs” category. Thanks.

Terry on 7/12/2012 @ 6:54pm EDT Said:

Manny I liked while at Michigan but I noticed he used terrible shot selection at times. Even the present players there do it. There’s going to be snubs no matter which choices you make.

Andrew on 7/12/2012 @ 7:17pm EDT Said:

Mateen Cleaves in 1999-2000 was brilliant–he was the heart and soul of a team that won a Big Ten Championships AND went to the Final Four all three seasons he was there. And his numbers are comparable to Dee Brown. Mateen was the better passer and Dee the better shooter. Any serious list includes non-statistical factors as well.

And Morris Peterson? He shot 42.5% from beyond the arc his senior season. Comparing his numbers with Evan Turner’s is deceptive–look at MPG. MoPete played roughly 6.5 fewer minutes per game in his final season than Turner.

C. on 7/13/2012 @ 7:04am EDT Said:

Finally…SOMEBODY gave purdue players at least SOME respect. My goodness. Normally people just totally disregard purdue players entirely. I, personally, am good with your choices. I don’t really care who else from other schools didn’t make your team. lol. Boiler Up

Tony on 7/13/2012 @ 8:09am EDT Said:

Where is Carl Landry?

Greg on 7/14/2012 @ 10:06pm EDT Said:

Way too Purdue centric here. Looking for D? How about David Lighty, who would be asked to guard everything from the 1 to the 4 in a single game and was capable of scoring when needed.

    Brent Yarina, on 7/14/2012 @ 10:37pm EDT Said:

    Lighty’s another good one. He’d definitely be someone in the mix when trying to fill out such a team.