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.
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