Player Rankings: Nick Ward makes debut in Jess Settles' list
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The No. 1 player in my Big Ten Player Rankings is a no-brainer. It’s Purdue star Caleb Swanigan, once again, and it’s not even close.
The rest of my list is a little more debatable. See it all below.
1. Caleb Swanigan, Purdue. Biggie’s footwork in the post in wins over Ohio St. and Wisconsin was so impressive for a man his size. Give credit to Matt Painter and his staff for all of the offseason work with Swanigan. The sophomore now has eight (!) double-doubles in a row.
Last week: 1
2. Peter Jok, Iowa. The sharpshooter scored 30 points after halftime, including 16 in a row, in Iowa’s double-overtime defeat at Nebraska, a memorable performance followed up by his third double-double (18 points, 11 rebounds) of the season.
Last week: 3
3. Ethan Happ, Wisconsin. The super sophomore frustrated Indiana’s frontline with 19 crafty points, six rebounds, and four assists in a huge road victory. He scored 17 points and came up with a ridiculous six steals in a loss at Purdue.
Last week: 5
4. Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin. It was a rough week for the preseason Big Ten player of the year, as he shot 35 percent and averaged 3.5 rebounds in two games, a big road win at Indiana and a loss at Purdue.
Last week: 2
5. Melo Trimble, Maryland. The veteran star on a talented young team, Trimble put up 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals in Maryland’s quality win at Michigan.
Last week: 4
6. Nate Mason, Minnesota. In Minnesota’s first four conference games, Mason has been equal parts scorer (18.3 points) and efficient distributor (Big Ten-best 6.3 assists & 1.5 turnovers per game).
Last week: 8
7. Glynn Watson Jr., Nebraska. Watson refused to allow Nebraska to lose vs. Iowa, scoring 34 points and drilling 7-of-8 3-pointers in the thrilling double-overtime win. Nebraska’s unexpected 3-1 start in conference play has Big Ten country buzzing about the guard’s emergence.
Last week: 10
8. Malcolm Hill, Illinois. Hill’s last four games, points/field goal attempts: 21/12, 21/10, 20/12, 21/12. A critical homestand awaits this week (Michigan and Maryland), and the consistent star might need to hoist a few more shots if Illinois is to get a couple must-wins.
Last week: 6
9. Tai Webster, Nebraska. Webster was great in non-conference action, and he’s been even better in Big Ten play, averaging 19.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and three steals.
Last week: 9
10. Nick Ward, Michigan State. Freshman teammate Miles Bridges gets the headlines, but Ward has been the Big Ten’s most productive first-year player. The 16 points and 7.3 rebounds per Big Ten contest are nice, but it’s the young star’s shot-blocking prowess (3.8) that gets my attention.
Last week: NR