Jess Settles, BTN Basketball Analyst, March 9, 2015

Doing something a little different this week with my Big Ten Player Rankings.

With the All-Big Ten teams being announced Monday night, I'm sharing my first, second and third teams instead of ranking the top 10 players.

See who made my teams below.



Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin. Frank The Tank debuted at No. 1 on my first list and hasn?t fallen off of the top spot since. He dominated at Minnesota and at No. 25 Ohio State on his way to leading Wisconsin to the outright Big Ten crown and sharing Big Ten Player of the Week. His likely Big Ten Player of the Year honor is just the first of many life changing moments coming his way over the next few months.

D'Angelo Russell, Ohio State. Russell is one the few players this season who college basketball fans and analysts set their DVRs to watch play. His pinpoint shooting, dazzling passes, and joy for the game are must-see TV. He will win Big Ten Freshman of the Year in a land slide after averaging 19.2 points, 5.2 assists and a head shaking 5.6 rebounds from the point guard position.

Aaron White, Iowa. White scored 21 points at Indiana and erupted for 25 points on senior day against Northwestern, climbing to No. 2 overall on the Iowa scoring charts. His rare combination of length, speed and hand-eye coordination have always made him an impactful player at both ends of the court. His late-season perimeter improvement (8 3-pointers in last five games) has taken his game to another level.

Yogi Ferrell, Indiana. Yogi did a remarkable job of reinventing his game by leading another group of young, talented, yet unproven players. The Hoosiers rarely had an inside presence, and Yogi had to navigate a team that had to rely heavily upon the 3-point shot. He averaged 16 points and five assists, but his missed free throw late against Michigan State has Indiana on the bubble heading into the Big Ten tourney.

Melo Trimble, Maryland. With Dez Wells sidelined with injury, Melo, Jake Layman and company went 6-1, including a nice road win at Oklahoma State. If Melo would?ve been injured, Maryland would have struggled to win one game. That?s why the freshman sensation gets my first-team nod. He averaged 16.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists, and he has the uncanny ability to get to the free-throw line.


Dez Wells. Maryland. Wells has been a highlight-reel the last month as he has climbed back into playing shape. He has been dunking on people, defending, and hitting clutch shots. The senior, who is averaging 17.7 points the last 11 games points and has recorded back-to-back doubles, is poised for a monster postseason.

A.J. Hammons, Purdue. Hammons was on the team that finished in the basement last season. After a rough start to this season and a benching from Matt Painter, he was a difference-maker on both ends of the court in Big Ten play. Purdue finished fourth and earned a double-bye in the Big Ten tourney, thanks in large part to Hammons shooting 54 percent and averaging 11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and a Big Ten-leading 2.8 blocks. He is also my pick for defensive player of the year.

Sam Dekker, Wisconsin. Dekker had a fruitful week as the Badgers wrapped up a historic season in Madison. The efficient Badger appears to be healthy, and he's averaging eight rebounds in the last four games. The way Dekker is playing, Wisconsin, coached by Bo Ryan, my Big Ten Coach of the Year, can make a run at the national title.

D.J. Newbill, Penn State. He escaped the Philly projects, overcame the loss of his mother, scored 2,000 points, is on schedule to graduate and led the Big Ten in scoring (20.7). His buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win the game at Minnesota on Sunday was the icing on the cake for his stellar career.

Branden Dawson, Michigan State. Dawson led the league in rebounding (9.8) and dominated smaller frontlines for the Spartans. He suffered an injury in Michigan State's win over Purdue on Wednesday, limiting him to nine minutes and forcing him to miss the season finale at Indiana. Still, he put up nine double-doubles, eight of which came in Big Ten play.


Denzel Valentine, Michigan State. Mr. Versatility is always capable of triple-double performances. Valentine, who averages 14.5 points, is top 10 in rebounding, assists, 3-pointers, free throw percentage, assist/TO.

Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin. He will be on my preseason first team list for next season. Last year?s sixth man of the year could be this year?s most improved player as he took his perimeter game to another level. Hayes is averaging 12 points and 6.4 rebounds, all while shooting 52 percent, including 38 percent from distance.

Travis Trice, Michigan State. It?s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog! Trice led the league in assist-to-TO ratio, was third in assists, fifth in 3?s made and steals and sixth in scoring.

Troy Williams, Indiana. The human highlight reel lived above the rim for the Hoosiers. He was fourth in the Big Ten in rebounding (7.1), tied for first in field goal percentage (55.9 percent) and number one in highlight dunks.

Rapheal Davis, Purdue. One of the Big Ten's top defensive talents, Davis became a factor on offense in his junior season, scoring 11 points per game and shooting 48 percent. A season ago, those numbers were six points per game and 43 percent.