BIG TEN CHAMPION
My vote: Indiana – Bold, I know. The top-ranked Hoosiers return all five starters, key reserves Will Sheehey and Derek Elston, in addition to a healthy Maurice Creek, and welcome one of the nation’s premier recruiting classes. This team is so deep it’s biggest issue might be how Tom Crean massages all the egos and keeps everyone pleased with playing time.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
My vote: Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State – Indiana’s Cody Zeller enters the season with the most fanfare, and for good reason. But Zeller plays on the preseason’s top-ranked team, and it has no shortage of proven and reliable scorers. Thomas, on the other hand, is a prolific scorer who is a safe bet to lead Ohio State in scoring every time out. He’s also on a team that figures to be a force in the Big Ten race.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
My vote: Yogi Ferrell, Indiana – There are so many worthy candidates, but Ferrell will make the biggest impact of the talented freshmen. Ferrell is the point guard Indiana desperately lacked last season, in that he’s fast, athletic and a game-changer. With all the scoring options the freshman has at his disposal, he’ll be a big-time distributor on an elite team.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
My vote: Aaron Craft, Ohio State – Not only is Craft a terrific defender, he’s the known commodity – something that never hurts with these kind of honors. Seriously, no announcer or expert can talk about the Ohio State junior without mentioning his defensive prowess, or his quick feet and hands. He’ll live up to the praise, too.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
My vote: Terone Johnson, Purdue – Johnson showed flashes of what he’s capable of late last season, averaging 15.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists in the final seven games. He’ll be asked to do even more this season, with Robbie Hummel and Lewis Jackson out of eligibility. Johnson has the skills to become a star, and we’ll see it happen this season.
COACH OF THE YEAR
My vote: Fran McCaffery, Iowa – This is a tough year to predict such an honor, because Tom Crean, John Beilein, Thad Matta, Tom Izzo and Bo Ryan all enter the season with plenty of national love. Therefore, it will be tough for any member of the quintet to surprise. McCaffery is a great option, though, especially if leads the Hawkeyes back to the NCAA tournament.
|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.|