BTN.com’s Brent Yarina is in the middle of unveiling his 2012-13 preseason Big Ten Player Rankings one by one. The countdown goes in reverse order, of course, and each installment includes player stats and one video highlight from last season. Once the season starts, Yarina will release a weekly Player Rankings every Monday. Up next, at No. 4: Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe.
No. 10: Jared Berggren, Sr., Wisconsin
No. 9: Branden Dawson, So., Michigan State
No. 8: Keith Appling, Jr., Michigan State
No. 7: Drew Crawford, Sr., Northwestern
No. 6: Aaron Craft, Jr., Ohio State
No. 5: Tim Frazier, Sr., Penn State
Mbakwe’s career stats:
Why he’s No. 4: When healthy, Mbakwe is the closest thing to a sure-thing in terms of a double-double. The powerful and athletic 6-8 forward owns 23 double-doubles in 38 career games with the Gophers – he’s also fallen one rebound short four times. Simply put, there’s no better glass cleaner in the Big Ten. Mbakwe also is darn near impossible to stop when he gets the ball down low, shooting 58.6 percent during his time in Minneapolis. As a defender, he’s a typical Tubby Smith player who’s active and who swats more than his share of shots.
Why he may not live up to ranking: Look, Mbakwe is almost 24 years old, and he’s only played one full season (2010-11). He missed all but seven games last year to a season-ending knee injury. How will the knee hold up? Can he stay on the court? Then there’s Rodney Williams, the uberly talented and athletic forward, who starred after Mbakwe was injured. Williams found a home at the 4 spot, Mbakwe’s position, so it will be interesting to see how Smith works the lineup to get the best out of his talented forwards.
|BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina covers football and men’s basketball for BTN.com. He writes the popular uniform feature “Clothes Call,” which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his work here. You can subscribe to Yarina’s RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.|