In the spotlight: B1G players who need to produce

The exhibition season already has tipped off for Big Ten men’s hoops teams. Before the games start to count, though, BTN.com’s Brent Yarina wanted to offer his Big Ten players in the spotlight. Whether the players have big shoes to fill, they’re considered the missing piece or they’re coming off down years, Yarina offers one guy for every Big Ten team. See the list in this post.

ILLINOIS
Nnanna Egwu, C, So.
Why he’s in spotlight: Last season’s breakout big man Meyers Leonard was a first-round NBA pick, meaning Illinois needs a big body, someone to fill the role down low.
Why he can deliver: Egwu has the body, at 6-foot-11 and 235 pounds, and he’s athletic enough to be a factor – at least in short spurts – in John Groce’s new up-tempo system.

Per Game Team G GS MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG TOPG PFPG FG% 3P% FT%
2011-12 Ill 32 3 9.8 1.9 1.5 0.2 0.2 0.6 0.7 1.9 .474 - .462
Career 32 3 9.8 1.9 1.5 0.2 0.2 0.6 0.7 1.9 .474 - .462

INDIANA
Yogi Ferrell, PG, Fr.
Why he’s in spotlight: He’s a highly celebrated recruit, he played AAU ball with teammate and AP preseason All-America Cody Zeller, and he brings a dimension (speed, athleticism) Indiana didn’t have at point guard last season.
Why he can deliver: Just about any point guard could have success dishing the ball off to Indiana’s deep collection of scoring options, let alone one with Ferrell’s skills. With his speed and decision making, he’ll be an assist machine.

IOWA
Melsahn Basabe, F, Jr.
Why he’s in spotlight: Look up “sophomore slump” in the dictionary, and you might find Basabe’s mug next to it. If Iowa is to reach the NCAA tourney, it’ll need its forward to reclaim his freshman play.
Why he can deliver: On his good nights, the inconsistent but talented Basabe can play with just about any Big Ten forward. It’s about desire and determination, which the junior should have following a disappointing campaign.

Per Game Team G GS MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG TOPG PFPG FG% 3P% FT%
2010-11 Iowa 31 31 24.5 11.0 6.8 0.3 0.4 1.3 2.1 2.7 .572 - .714
2011-12 Iowa 35 21 20.1 8.2 4.8 0.3 0.5 1.0 1.3 2.0 .524 - .657
Career 66 52 22.1 9.5 5.7 0.3 0.5 1.2 1.7 2.3 .549 - .687

MICHIGAN
Tim Hardaway Jr., G, Jr.
Why he’s in spotlight: Hardaway failed to improve upon his terrific 2010-11 debut season as a sophomore. Truth be told, the Wolverines are better when there’s a debate over whether this is Hardaway or Trey Burke’s team.
Why he can deliver: Hardaway can get to the rim, create his own shot and score in bunches, plus there’s no doubt he’s a better shooter than he showed last season, particularly from distance.

Per Game Team G GS MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG TOPG PFPG FG% 3P% FT%
2010-11 Mich 35 35 30.7 13.9 3.8 1.7 1.0 0.1 1.3 1.9 .420 .367 .765
2011-12 Mich 34 34 34.2 14.6 3.8 2.1 0.5 0.3 1.9 2.1 .418 .283 .715
Career 69 69 32.4 14.2 3.8 1.9 0.7 0.2 1.6 2.0 .418 .327 .737

MICHIGAN STATE
Branden Dawson, F, So.
Why he’s in spotlight: The athletic marvel is coming off a season-ending knee injury and he’s the best rebounder on a team that is now without Big Ten Player of the Year and Big Ten rebounding king Draymond Green.
Why he can deliver: When healthy, Dawson’s combination of strength and athleticism is as good as it gets in the Big Ten. He’s a force around the basket and he can man-up on the other end of the floor.

Per Game Team G GS MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG TOPG PFPG FG% 3P% FT%
2011-12 MSU 31 31 20.6 8.4 4.5 0.9 0.9 0.8 1.4 1.3 .577 .000 .594
Career 31 31 20.6 8.4 4.5 0.9 0.9 0.8 1.4 1.3 .577 .000 .594

MINNESOTA
Rodney Williams, F, Sr.
Why he’s in spotlight: Williams finally took that proverbial next step last season when he moved to the 4 position following Trevor Mbakwe’s season-ending injury. With Mbakwe back for one final season, how will it impact this high flyer?
Why he can deliver: The Big Ten’s premier highlight machine is slated to start at the 4 -  a good sign – and he said he’s worked hard on improving his overall game.

Per Game Team G GS MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG TOPG PFPG FG% 3P% FT%
2009-10 Minn 32 4 11.9 4.3 1.6 0.5 0.4 0.7 0.5 0.8 .540 .286 .545
2010-11 Minn 31 28 24.7 6.8 3.5 1.9 0.6 0.7 1.4 2.4 .467 .213 .492
2011-12 Minn 38 38 31.9 12.2 5.6 1.7 1.3 1.4 1.6 2.7 .564 .309 .591
Career 101 70 23.4 8.0 3.7 1.4 0.8 1.0 1.2 2.0 .531 .270 .557

NEBRASKA
Dylan Talley, G, Sr.
Why he’s in spotlight: First-year coach Tim Miles inherits a team that lost six of its top seven leading scorers. The lone exception: Talley, who averaged 8.9 points per game, as the sixth man.
Why he can deliver: Despite starting only one game last season, Tally is the most experienced scorer on the Nebraska roster, so he figures to play a big part in the offense.

Per Game Team G GS MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG TOPG PFPG FG% 3P% FT%
2009-10 Bing 26 15 29.3 11.8 3.7 2.1 0.6 0.3 2.7 1.8 .398 .301 .693
2011-12 Neb 25 1 23.8 8.9 3.3 1.8 1.0 0.4 1.6 2.1 .404 .369 .818
Career 51 16 26.6 10.4 3.5 1.9 0.8 0.4 2.2 2.0 .400 .337 .735

NORTHWESTERN
Reggie Hearn, G, Sr.
Why he’s in spotlight: With John Shurna in the NBA and JerShon Cobb suspended for the season, Northwestern will lean on Hearn to provide a scoring punch and compliment stud Drew Crawford.
Why he can deliver: One of the Big Ten’s most improved players a season ago, Hearn showed he has the ability to score, when needed, and he has Dave Sobolewski, one of the Big Ten’s best distributors, feeding him the rock.

Per Game Team G GS MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG TOPG PFPG FG% 3P% FT%
2009-10 NW 13 0 1.9 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.2 .500 .500 -
2010-11 NW 19 0 2.5 1.0 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.3 .385 .333 .875
2011-12 NW 33 33 26.1 7.4 3.7 1.3 0.7 0.3 1.5 3.0 .486 .371 .787
Career 65 33 14.4 4.1 2.0 0.8 0.4 0.2 0.8 1.6 .479 .371 .800

OHIO STATE
LaQuinton Ross, F, So.
Why he’s in spotlight: Ross arrived with plenty of fanfare last year, only to miss most of the season due to academics and then receive very little run upon his debut. With Jared Sullinger and William Buford gone, he’ll have a much larger role and be asked to contribute right away as a sophomore.
Why he can deliver: He’s a big-time athlete, and he plays on a team where opponents must focus much of their attention on defense to one of the Big Ten’s most prolific scorers (Deshaun Thomas) and one of the Big Ten’s elite point guards (Aaron Craft).

Per Game Team G GS MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG TOPG PFPG FG% 3P% FT%
2011-12 OhioSt 9 0 3.9 2.0 0.4 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.6 .333 .250 .857
Career 9 0 3.9 2.0 0.4 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.6 .333 .250 .857

PENN STATE
D.J. Newbill, G, So.
Why he’s in spotlight: The Philadelphia native arrives from Southern Miss, where he averaged 9.2 points and 6.2 rebounds as a freshman, and Patrick Chambers says he and Tim Frazier may form one of the best backcourts in the nation.
Why he can deliver: Tim Frazier desperately needs a sidekick – a role Newbill figures to share with Jermaine Marshall – and he’ll have Frazier, last year’s Big Ten assists leader, helping him find scoring opportunities.

PURDUE
Terone Johnson, G, Jr.
Why he’s in spotlight: The Big Ten is loaded with top-end talent, however Purdue is one of the rare few teams that doesn’t return a proven star. The Boilers will need a star to emerge, and Johnson is the top candidate.
Why he can deliver: Johnson flashed his potential down the stretch last season, averaging 15.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists in the final eight games. He’s a guard who can get to the basket, and once he learns to hit free throws, he’ll be a very reliable scorer.

Per Game Team G GS MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG TOPG PFPG FG% 3P% FT%
2010-11 Purdue 34 6 19.3 4.9 2.5 1.7 0.5 0.2 1.0 1.9 .349 .293 .556
2011-12 Purdue 35 12 23.7 9.2 3.4 2.0 1.0 0.2 1.5 1.8 .472 .310 .435
Career 69 18 21.5 7.1 2.9 1.8 0.7 0.2 1.2 1.8 .425 .301 .471

WISCONSIN
George Marshall, G, Fr.
Why he’s in spotlight: Let’s see: Jordan Taylor, the three-year standout, graduated and his replacement, Josh Gasser, just suffered a season-ending knee injury. Someone has to run the swing offense, and Marshall will play a big part.
Why he can deliver: Marshall, a redshirt freshman, went up against Taylor all of last season in practice. He had to learn a little something doing that, right? Plus, he has Ben Brust and Traevon Jackson to help ease him into the role.

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.

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Show Comments (2 Comments)
2 Post Your Comment
Al Bacchus on 10/30/2012 @ 7:45pm EDT Said:

Why is the Spartans basketball game tonight not broadcast on BTN as listed on the schedule?

    BTN.com staff on 10/31/2012 @ 11:59am EDT Said:

    Al, which schedule are you referring to? This exhibition game was listed on the Big Ten Digital Network (online only) for the live game and on-demand viwing online, and then this exhibition game airs today on BTN TV at 1 p.m. ET. TV schedule is here. Big Ten Digital Network schedule is here.

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