Hardaway Jr. moves into hoops player rankings
It’s early, what with 11 of the Big Ten’s 12 teams only playing one game at the time this post was published. But it’s Monday, the day I release my weekly hoops player rankings. The season’s first installment features one new name from my preseason list. That name is Tim Hardaway Jr., the conference’s Big Ten Player of the Week. See who fills out the entire top 10 in this post.
1. Cody Zeller, Indiana – Check out this season-opening line for the preseason All-America: 8-10, 18 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. The only negative was his 2-of-6 effort from the free-throw line.
Preseason: No. 1
2. Trey Burke, Michigan – One of the better scoring point guards, Burke is going to love all the weapons he has at his disposal. Don’t be surprised to see several double-doubles, if not a triple-double or two, from the sophomore sensation.
Preseason: No. 2
3. Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State – Thomas wasted no time taking advantage of his new No. 1 role in Ohio State’s offense, launching 17 shots in the season opener. The lone surprise: He only hit 41 percent of the shots.
Preseason: No. 3
4. Tim Frazier, Penn State – How good is Frazier? The quick point guard scored 23 points on only nine shot attempts in the season opener. How did he do it? By driving to the basket and drawing fouls, which led to 17 free throws.
Preseason: No. 5
5. Aaron Craft, Ohio State – In his first two seasons, Craft never was asked to score or look for his shot. That won’t be the case this year, and in the first game, the point guard already went for a career-high in points (20).
Preseason: No. 6
6. Drew Crawford, Northwestern – The Wildcats are the only Big Ten team yet to play a game, but we know this senior leader will score a lot, shoot a high percentage and contribute a little bit across the board.
Preseason: No. 7
7. Branden Dawson, Michigan State – Tom Izzo and the Spartans couldn’t have asked for Dawson to look better in his return from last year’s season-ending knee injury. The sophomore, it appears, lost none of his athleticism.
Preseason: No. 9
8. Jared Berggren, Wisconsin – There’s nothing wrong with a 6-foot-10 big man who can stroke it from the outside, mix it up down low, rebound and block shots, is there?
Preseason: No. 10
9. Keith Appling, Michigan State – Appling and the Spartans couldn’t solve Connecticut, but the point guard only had one turnover and hit two 3-pointers, one more than he had in 29 of the final 30 games last year.
Preseason: No. 8
10. Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan – The first Big Ten Player of the Week, Hardaway opened the season with one of the best games of his career, as he hit 8-of-10 shots, including all five treys, and went for 25 points and 10 rebounds.
Dropped out: Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota (No. 4) – Give Mbakwe more time to bounce back from last year’s knee injury, and he’ll be fine. But right now, it looks as though Tubby Smith will take his time easing the powerful forward back into the swing of things.
|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.|