Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, January 29, 2015

Ohio State?s Aaron Craft was one of the top defensive players in recent Big Ten history. Purdue?s Chris Kramer was another notorious pest in the past decade. So, who is the top defensive player now?

I asked five writers who cover the Big Ten. And I got five different answers.

Michael Spath, I'd go with MSU's Branden Dawson. Dawson reminds me of 'Flintstone' Antonio Smith with his physical presence on the floor. He's obviously talented on the offensive end. But when teams go into the paint, they're going to feel Dawson's defensive presence more than any other player in the Big Ten.

Brad Sturdy, Orange & Blue Ohio State?s Shannon Scott is my pick. I think he takes the opponent out of what they want to do offensively with his pressure defense and is a lock-down defender one-on-one.

Robin Washut, When he actually tries, Purdue?s A.J. Hammons is the best post defender, by far. Ohio State?s Shannon Scott and Minnesota?s Nate Mason are the two best perimeter defenders, but Benny Parker deserves mention. But my vote would go to Hammons just because he can single-handedly change a game when he?s locked in. He did just that vs. NU last year.

Tom Kakert, I would have to go with Wisconsin?s Josh Gasser. His individual numbers don't wow you, but he's the guy that really drives the best defensive team in the Big Ten this year. Never seems to be out of place and always in proper defensive position.

Kevin Noon, Wisconsin?s Frank Kaminsky doesn?t have the look of an elite defender until he is shutting your favorite player down and causing fits.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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