Big Ten Hoops: Comparing this year's freshman class to past classes

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten Hoops: Comparing this year's freshman class to past classes

This year’s Big Ten freshman class has dominated headlines throughout the college basketball season.

Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell was named both the Big Ten Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week on Monday, marking the second time he has swept the honors this season. Maryland’s Melo Trimple was also named the Player and Freshman of the Week back on Dec. 1.

Russell, who leads Ohio State in both scoring and rebounding, has been honored as the conference’s Freshman of the Week six times. Trimble has received the honor twice, along with Indiana’s James Blackmon Jr. and Purdue’s Vince Edwards.

Minnesota’s Nate Mason and Northwestern’s Bryant McInthosh have also received the honor once this season.

This brings up the question: How does this year’s Big Ten freshman class compare to past classes?

I broke down the past five Big Ten freshman classes and compared them to some of the top newcomers in this year’s class from a statistical standpoint.

2015 Big Ten Freshmen

D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State: 19.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 69 3-point field goals made
Melo Trimble, Maryland: 15.4 ppg, 3.0 apg, .865 free throw percentage
James Blackmon Jr., Indiana: 16.3 ppg, 53 3-point field goals made, .827 free throw percentage
Bryant McInthosh, Northwestern: 12.3 ppg, 4.4 apg, 1.6 assist/turnover ratio
Vince Edwards, Purdue: 9.5 ppg, 5 rpg, .500 field goal percentage
Nate Mason, Minnesota: 9.5 ppg, 2.1 steals per game, .421 3-point field goal percentage
Jae’Sean Tate, Ohio State: 8.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, .583 field goal percentage

2014 All-Big Ten Freshman Team

Noah Vonleh, Indiana
Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin
Kendrick Nunn, Illinois
Derrick Walton Jr., Michigan
Kendall Stephens, Purdue

Analysis: This is a solid group of freshmen, highlighted by Vonleh, who led the Big Ten in rebounding during his one season at Indiana. However, Vonleh was the only player on this list to rank among the conference leaders in either scoring, rebounding or assists last season. In comparison, this year’s Big Ten freshman class has three players (Russell, Blackmon Jr. and Trimble) who rank in the top 15 in both scoring and assists this year.

Advantage: 2015 Freshmen

2013 All-Big Ten Freshman Team

Gary Harris, Michigan State
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana
Glenn Robinson III, Michigan
A.J. Hammons, Purdue
Sam Dekker, Wisconsin

Analysis: This group is loaded with talent, from top to bottom. Two of the players on this list are already in the NBA (Harris and Robinson III), while the other three will likely join them in a year or two. But if you look closely, this group really didn’t excel until their sophomore seasons, at least from a statistical standpoint. The leading scorer in this group was Harris, who averaged 12.9 points per game during his freshman campaign, which ranked 15th in the Big Ten that year. In comparison, Russell and Blackmon Jr. each score more than 16 points per contest this season, while ranking second and fifth in the Big Ten in scoring, respectively. Hammons was a force on the boards and on defense as a freshman, just like he is today. He averaged 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks as a freshman, while not a single freshman ranks in the top 15 in the conference in either of those statistics this season. On the other hand, Ferrell was the only freshman in 2013 to rank in the top 10 in assists, while Russell, McIntosh and Trimble all rank among the Big Ten leaders in assists this season.

Advantage: 2015 Freshmen

2012 All-Big Ten Freshman Team

Cody Zeller, Indiana
Trey Burke, Michigan
Aaron White, Iowa
Branden Dawson, Michigan State
Dave Sobolewski. Northwestern

Analysis: This 2012 All-Freshman Team is an interesting group. Burke and Zeller are already in the NBA. White and Dawson are both still in school and are two of the top players in the Big Ten. Sobolewski had an outstanding freshman season, followed by a solid sophomore campaign, but he has seen his minutes and statistics drop since Chris Collins replaced Bill Carmody. Zeller and Burke were the studs of this class. Both ranked in the top 12 in the conference in scoring as freshmen, while Zeller ranked No. 1 in field goal percentage (.623) and No. 6 overall in rebounding (6.6 rpg). Burke ranked No. 4 in assists (4.6 apg) and No. 12 in 3-pointers made (57). Dawson and White both ranked in the top 10 in field goal percentage as freshmen, while Sobolewski led the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.6). This was a great freshman class, but in comparison, this year’s class has three players who rank in the top 8 in scoring, two players who rank in the top 3 in field goal percentage (Haas and Tate) and two players who rank in the top 8 in assists (Russell and McIntosh). From a statistical standpoint, this year’s class gets a slight edge.

Advantage: 2015 Freshmen

2011 All-Big Ten Freshman Team

Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
Jerome Richmond, Illinois
Melsahn Basabe, Iowa
Aaron Craft, Ohio State

Analysis: Sullinger is the star of this group. In fact, it could be argued that he was the best freshman in the Big Ten over the past decade. The former Buckeye standout ranked sixth in the conference in scoring (17.2 ppg), second in rebounding (10.2 rpg) and fifth in field goal percentage (.541). But after that, there was a significant drop off when it comes to this group of five. Hardaway Jr. was the next-leading scorer in the group, ranking 15th in the conference with a 13.9 ppg clip. Basabe came in at seventh in the Big Ten in rebounding as a freshman (6.8 rpg), while Craft’s 4.8 assists per game ranked fifth in the Big Ten. This was a well-rounded freshman class, but this year’s 2015 class has a huge statistical advantage over this group.

Advantage: 2015 Freshmen

2010 All-Big Ten Freshman Team

D.J. Richardson, Illinois
Drew Crawford, Northwestern
Christian Watford, Indiana
Eric May, Iowa
Kelsey Barlow, Purdue

Analysis: This was a solid freshman class, but from a statistical standpoint, it was probably the weakest of the bunch. Watford was the leading scorer in this group, averaging 12 points per contest, which was good for 19th in the Big Ten. Watford was also the top rebounder in the group, pulling down 6.0 rebounds per game, which ranked 10th in the conference. Iowa’s Cully Payne, who wasn’t a member of the 2010 All-Big Ten Freshman Team, was the only freshman to rank in the top 15 in the Big Ten in assists in 2010. While this class had only one player rank in the top 20 in the conference in scoring and rebounding, and one in the top 15 in assists, this year’s class has three players in the top 8 in scoring, one in the top 20 in rebounding and three in the top 15 in assists.

Advantage: 2015 Freshmen

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