With one-third of the conference schedule in the books, it’s time to take an early look at some of the leading candidates for the Big Ten’s top end-of-the-year awards. See my top 3 players for Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year in this post.
Editor’s note: Player stats and team records are through January 21 action.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
1. Keith Appling, Michigan State. Teammate Gary Harris leads the Big Ten in scoring, but Appling’s development at the point- he’s averaging four assists and owns a 1.75 assist-to-turnover ratio in Big Ten play – has fueled the perfect Spartans.
2. Nik Stauskas, Michigan. Stauskas is shooting 49 percent in Big Ten play, and he’s attempted 30 3-pointers. That’s very impressive. On top of that, he’s averaging 17.6 points and a surprising 4.8 assists.
3. Devyn Marble, Iowa. Marble has saved his best for Big Ten play, averaging 19 points, four rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.2 steals to help lead Iowa to its strong 4-1 start.
COACH OF THE YEAR
1. John Beilein, Michigan. Beilein lost a preseason All-America in Mitch McGary, and, despite not getting a minute from the big man, the Wolverines are 5-0 in the Big Ten. Raise your hand if you predicted that. No hands, right?
2. Fran McCaffery, Iowa. Fran the Man has taken this popular preseason “Sleeper Team” and turned it into a top 10 team that many think could make a deep tourney run. Like, to the Final Four, according to some experts.
3. Tom Izzo, Michigan State. We know all about the injuries, including Adreian Payne’s, but how about this stat: Michigan State is 4-0 in Big Ten road games, winning each by at least 14 points.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
1. Noah Vonleh, Indiana. Why isn’t this guy getting more touches, again? Regardless, in Big Ten play, Vonleh is averaging 13.3 points, nine rebounds and two blocks, all while shooting 51 percent and becoming a 3-point threat (9-12).
2. Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin. It’s rare for a first-year player to see much run under Bo Ryan, but this guy is going to be special. He’s already pretty good as is, shooting 56 percent and averaging 10.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in Big Ten play.
3. Derrick Walton Jr., Michigan. His game-winner at Nebraska is enough for inclusion on this list. He’s also increased his efficiency in Big Ten play, shooting 54 percent and turning it over two or fewer times in four of five games.
SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR
1. Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa. Other reserves have better stats, however the Wisconsin transfer’s overall numbers are impacted by the supremely deep Hawkeyes. Still, Uthoff’s making the most of his 4.6 field goal attempts and 20.2 minutes in Big Ten action, averaging 7.6 points, three rebounds and one block.
2. Tre Demps, Northwestern. On a team that struggles to score, Demps delivers an instant scoring punch off the bench. The sophomore sub has entered double digits in the last four games and is averaging 10.3 points in Big Ten action.
3. Deverell Biggs, Nebraska. So far, so good. In each of Biggs’ first five Big Ten games, he’s provided an immediate spark. Not only has Biggs reached double figures in four games on his way to averaging 11.2 points, he’s pulling down 4.6 rebounds.
|About Brent Yarina||BTN.com senior 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.|