BTN.com staff, April 7, 2015
It was another memorable Big Ten men's basketball season.
Michigan State and Big Ten regular season and postseason champ Wisconsin made the Final Four, marking the first time since 2005 that two Big Ten teams made the regional semifinals, and Wisconsin advanced to the national final.
With the season in the books, BTN.com asked a writer from every school for his/her team's 2014-15 MVP and 2015-16 Player to Watch.
Below, see the writers' MVP picks.
Rayvonte Rice. Though he missed nine games, Rice was Illinois' best and most-efficient player when he was in the lineup and was on track to being a first-team All-Big Ten selection before going down with the broken hand.
Yogi Ferrell. From a role as a distributor as a freshman to a lead scorer as a sophomore, Ferrell evolved further as a junior as he fully took the reigns as IU's leader. He was rewarded with All-Big Ten honors as he led the Hoosiers, an NCAA tournament team, in both scoring and assists.
Aaron White. White had the type of season that took him from a guy who racked up a lot of stats because he played a lot of games to someone whose heart and desire helped elevate the team when it needed him most. He's arguably one of the 10 best players to ever play for Iowa.
Melo Trimble. Trimble and Dez Wells split first-team all-Big Ten awards, but it was Trimble who served as the team?s steady rock all season long. As Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said after Trimble?s 26-point outburst versus the Spartans in January, ?He?s the straw that stirs the drink.?
Spike Albrecht. While Zak Irvin finished the season leading most of the statistical categories, he didn't start playing at a high level until the final three weeks. Albrecht kept the Wolverines afloat all season and competitive, despite losing the two guards supposed to be starting ahead of him. Without him, U-M might have imploded entirely.
Branden Dawson. Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine are both fine choices, too. But Dawson is one of college basketball's toughest matchups and biggest game changers on the defensive end, and he was great for most of his senior season.
Mo Walker. The transformed big man increased his scoring production by four points and his rebounding production by more than two in his senior season, and set the tone in the Gophers' wins with strong inside play rooting a balanced offense.
Terran Petteway. Nobody had an MVP-type season for a disappointing Nebraska team, and it can be argued Petteway trying to do too much on his own is among the reasons for the Huskers? struggles. But he did lead the team in scoring and had 33 more assists than last season.
Tre Demps. Close call among Bryant McIntosh, Alex Olah and Tre Demps, but I?ll take Demps because of his performance in NU?s most exciting victory - the two-overtime thriller against Michigan. He hit 3-pointers to send the game to overtime - and a second OT.
D'Angelo Russell. The 6-foot-5 Russell turned in perhaps the best season by a freshman in OSU history. He averaged 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5 assists, and saved the season for the Buckeyes. Without him, they would have been an NIT squad at best. Instead, they were in and out of the national rankings all season and won a game in the NCAA Tournament. It will be shocking if Russell returns to Ohio State for his sophomore season; he's projected as a top-3 NBA draft pick. Everyone in Columbus presumes he's leaving and rightfully so.
D.J. Newbill. Is it even disputable that Newbill had to haul the biggest load for his team out of anyone in the Big Ten? He managed to not only score 20+ every night, but he did so at a respectable efficiency. Not too shabby for a guy consistently double-teamed night in and night out.
Raphael Davis. Emerged as the unquestioned leader of the team, thrived during Purdue's Big Ten run, took a huge leap on both sides of the ball to become one of Purdue's most consistent players. When he played poorly, Purdue generally lost. When he played well, Purdue was a bit of a machine. A close second is AJ Hammons.
Myles Mack. The senior guard rarely came out of games, averaging 13.4 points, 4.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds despite constant double-teaming. He finished up ranked seventh all-time in scoring, fourth in assists and second in steals in Rutgers? annals.
Frank Kaminsky. Wisconsin entered the season with two players receiving player of the year hype, and while Sam Dekker had a fine season in his own right, there's no arguing that Kaminsky is the most valuable Badger. Now a senior, his continued development has made him a legitimate 7-footer with outside shooting range, tremendous ball skills and an overall matchup nightmare.