Jess Settles, BTN men's basketball analyst, November 9, 2015

Last season, Wisconsin?s Frank Kaminsky opened my Big Ten Player Rankings in the penthouse and refused to even share his couch with any of his fellow competitors. I finally had to evict the legendary Tank and all his national player of the year awards after he was selected 9th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft.

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Don?t expect the same this season. The Big Ten is loaded with proven stars, hungry newcomers, and explosive freshmen. Look for the Player Ranking to resemble musical chairs as the Big Ten?s brightest take to the hardwood.

1. Melo Trimble, Maryland. The best point guard in the Big Ten leads the best team in the Big Ten into a season filled with high expectations and Final Four aspirations. Trimble shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc and paraded to the free-throw line a remarkable 240 times as a freshman! If he can get his new teammates up to speed quickly, the Terps should roll.

2. Denzel Valentine, Michigan State. The Big Ten?s most versatile player is chomping at the bit to put his talents on display and lead Sparty back to the Final Four. Valentine averaged 14.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists last year. He is constantly flirting with triple-doubles and has Magic Johnson court vision. You heard me.

3. Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin. Hayes finds himself in a peculiar situation heading into the 2015-16 campaign. A complimentary piece in each of his first two seasons, ones that included a pair of Big Ten titles and Final Four berths, Hayes now is the cornerstone of a rebuilding project. The junior will put up monster numbers on an inexperienced team. If he can lead Wisconsin to the Big Ten title, he will finish in the top spot.

4. Caris LeVert, Michigan. The plethora of Wolverine injuries last season could end up being a blessing in disguise for coach John Beilein. LeVert and fellow guard Derrick Walton missed 27 games combined, which allowed Aubrey Dawkins, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Zak Irvin to gain valuable experience under pressure. But make no mistake, LeVert, a potential lottery pick, must stay healthy if the Wolverines want to return to prominence.

5. Yogi Ferrell, Indiana. There are many nights offensively when Ferrell is the best player in the Big Ten. He finished in the top 10 in scoring (6th), free-throw percentage (2nd), 3-point percentage (6th) and assists (4th). The problem for Yogi and the Hoosiers is at the defensive end. Yogi refuses to guard on every possession, and Indiana can?t win a title if he doesn?t start defending.

6. A.J. Hammons, Purdue. Hammons is the rare player who has the ability to alter the Big Ten race on a nightly basis. Immediately after a top guard blows by a Purdue defender with a clear path to the rim, Hammons reaches over and swats the ball into the seats (2.3 bpg). Just after an opponent forces Purdue into a bad shot, Hammons soars in and tip-dunks an offensive rebound (6.6 rpg). When Hammons is locked in, Purdue is scary good.

7. Jake Layman, Maryland. Layman has big-game capabilities. Just ask Oklahoma State. The bulk of his best work was accomplished when Dez Wells was injured. Layman never regained his confidence when Wells returned to the lineup, and the two had a hard time dominating together. Layman averaged a quiet 12 points and six rebounds, but he's skilled enough to double those numbers. Question is, with all of the Terps' talent, will he be a POY candidate or just another good player on a great team?

8. James Blackmon Jr., Indiana. Blackmon is one of the Big Ten?s best players and one of the nation?s best shooters. He averaged 16 points and 5 rebounds while shooting 80 perncet from the free-throw line. Like Yogi Ferrell, Blackmon has to get better defensively if he wants to win a championship at Indiana. And we all know Hoosier Nation will accept nothing less. The Hoosiers will have no trouble scoring with Blackmon in the lineup, that?s for sure.

9. Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa. Two years ago, Roy Devyn Marble led Iowa to the NCAA tournament and was drafted in the NBA. Last season, Aaron White led Iowa to a win in the NCAA tournament and was drafted in the NBA. Now it?s Uthoff?s turn to shine. Uthoff is the best close-out defender in the Big Ten and has a versatile offensive game. The 3rd team All-Big Ten selection must be consistent at both ends this season if Iowa is going to dance three years in a row.

10. Malcolm Hill, Illinois. Freshman and newcomers must earn their way onto my list, and so Illinois? multi-talented Malcom Hill takes the final spot. Illinois has been rattled by injuries, suspension, and shaky point guard play, but Hill has been the glue in Champaign. Look for him to explode this season and have multiple 20-point games. He?d better, or his stay on my Player Rankings will be short lived with the talent lurking behind him.