Power Ranking Big Ten Starting Power Forwards

Ryan Curi@rcuri1Featured ColumnistApril 16, 2013

Power Ranking Big Ten Starting Power Forwards

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    The general makeup of each team in the Big Ten is different. Some squads are perimeter-oriented and rely on outside shooting, while others try to overpower their opponents with size. Some players on this list are true power forwards, while others could be defined as "stretch 4s."

    Here is a recap of the 12 starting power forwards in the Big Ten this past season, ranked solely on this season's performances. This is Part 2 of five lists analyzing Big Ten starters. Enjoy!

12. Kale Abrahamson, Northwestern

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    Stat line: 4.9 points, 2.0 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 16.3 minutes

    In Northwestern's 24th game of the season, fifth-year senior Jared Swopshire's college basketball career came to an end with a season-ending injury. Swopshire's replacement at power forward became the 6'7" freshman Abrahamson, who is from West Des Moines, IA. 

    Though he has a funky release from beyond the arc, Abrahamson was most effective from deep at a 35.1 percent clip for the year. To this point, Abrahamson's career game came at Michigan State, when he notched 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting in 34 minutes. 

11. David Rivers, Nebraska

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    Stat line: 5.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 25.1 minutes

    After only averaging 8.3 minutes of playing time as a true freshman, Rivers' minutes tripled as a sophomore. He played double-figure minutes in all but two games in 2012-13.

    Like Abrahamson, Rivers is undersized at the power forward position, standing 6'7" but also weighing only 191 pounds.

    Rivers' career game also came at Michigan State, when he scored 18 points on perfect 8-of-8 shooting while playing the entire 40 minutes. As the Cornhuskers have lost two of their top three scorers from last season, expect Rivers to score in double figures on a more regular basis. 

10. Rapheal Davis, Purdue

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    Stat line: 5.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 18.9 minutes

    After mixing and matching power forwards from Donnie Hale to Travis Carroll to Jacob Lawson to Sandi Marcius to begin the 2012-13 season, Matt Painter decided to go both small and young to end the season. Once Davis entered the starting lineup, Purdue was much tougher to defend.

    Davis only stands 6'5", but it would have felt wrong putting DJ Byrd in Purdue's power forward slot considering Byrd treats the area inside the three-point line like lava.

    Davis first entered the rotation in December with a 21-point effort against Notre Dame, but he followed that up with seven double-digit performances after January 13th.

9. Tyler Griffey, Illinois

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    Stat line: 7.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 21.8 minutes 

    No picture would be more fitting to describe Tyler Griffey's season than this one, as his teammates hold him up following his buzzer-beating layup to beat then top-ranked Indiana.

    Griffey's shooting was streaky to say the least, but he came up huge in moments other than the IU upset. Griffey also hit a game-winning three-pointer to beat Gardner-Webb and scored in double figures in all three Illini wins in Maui, helping the Illini knock off USC, Chaminade and Butler.

8. Melsahn Basabe, Iowa

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    Stat line: 6.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 18.5 minutes

    On January 31st, Basabe made his first start of the season, as Fran McCaffery decided the Hawkeyes should utilize their abundance of size and play big. After a promising freshman season, Basabe was the Big Ten's biggest enigma as a sophomore and not much changed during his junior season.

    Basabe, peaked in early March when he compiled back-to-back double-doubles against Nebraska and Northwestern. He struggled to end the season though, despite the Hawkeyes advancing to the NIT finals, as Basabe failed to score in double figures in the final six contests.

    Don't expect much to change about Basabe's inconsistent game as a senior.

7. Ross Travis, Penn State

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    Stat Line: 7.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 31.4 minutes

    Quietly, Travis put up a very underrated sophomore campaign, as he finished the season fourth in rebounding in the B1G. Travis double-doubled five times and grabbed double-digit rebounds on four additional instances.

    On a team loaded with guards a year from now (Tim Frazier, Jermaine Marshall, DJ Newbill), Travis should continue to wipe the glass clean of rebounds. He's also a good ball-handler for his position but needs to improve as a shooter, having only connected on 35 percent of his looks last year.

6. Ryan Evans, Wisconsin

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    Stat line: 10.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 29.1 minutes

    Though not attempting a free throw in the above picture, Ryan Evans shooting a jump shot is the best way to sum up his senior season in Madison. After dropping from 72 to 42 percent from the charity stripe, Evans resorted to taking jump shots to help solve the mental mystery of his suddenly poor free-throw shooting.

    Evans was best positioned on offense on the low block, backing down his defender and laying the ball up. Evans tied Travis for fourth in Big Ten rebounding and had four double-doubles.

    Though Evans and fellow fifth-year senior Jared Berggren's careers ended abruptly in an NCAA tournament loss to Ole Miss, they were a part of back-to-back Sweet 16 teams, and maybe even more importantly never lost to Indiana in their half-decade as Badgers.

5. Glenn Robinson III, Michigan

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    Stat line: 11.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 33.6 minutes

    Through January, all was well in the world for Robinson, son of former Purdue Boilermaker and NBA star Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson. The Wolverines were the nation's top-ranked team and Robinson was on the fast track to winning Big Ten Freshman of the Year and being selected as an NBA lottery pick.

    Robinson struggled in February and into March though, following a two-point performance against Indiana on College GameDay.

    Robinson certainly got hot at the right time though, as he scored in double figures in five of Michigan's six NCAA tournament games en route to becoming the championship runner-up. Robinson now has to decide whether to leave Ann Arbor for the NBA after only one season or come back and improve in some areas, namely outside shooting. 

4. Rodney Williams Jr., Minnesota

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    Stat line: 10.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 28.2 minutes

    Williams spent much of his four seasons in Minneapolis above the rim, as shown in the attached photo.

    Aside from his terrific athleticism, Williams did not specialize in any particular area of his game, though he did everything fairly well. Williams could score, rebound and pass as evidenced by his above statistics, but he could also defend, swiping 0.8 steals and swatting 1.3 blocks per contest.

    After playing small forward in his first two seasons, Williams moved to his natural power forward position following Trevor Mbakwe's injury as a junior. Williams is a lanky 6'7" and 205 pounds, but he makes up for it with his athleticism and long wingspan, which should help his game translate on the NBA level.

3. Christian Watford, Indiana

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    Stat line: 12.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 27.9 minutes

    Watford's four-year Hoosier career was a model of consistency, as Watford averaged over 12.0 points and 5.4 rebounds every season. Watford's senior season was nothing different, and the man who hit the epic three-pointer to beat Kentucky even improved from the outside, connecting on 48.4 percent of his long-distance bombs.

    From December 19th through February 19th, Watford scored in double figures in all 17 contests. Watford was overshadowed by Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller's individual accolades, though Watford was the true building block around the Hoosier's recent success, after having played on teams that won 10 and 12 games respectively his first two years in Bloomington. 

2. Adreian Payne, Michigan State

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    Stat line: 10.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 25.6 minutes

    Payne has made significant jumps in his game since arriving in East Lansing as a freshman. Now, Payne is in the front seat and has a tough decision to make following a junior season that featured him on the Second Team All-Big Ten. Payne can either test the NBA waters, or come back to MSU in what should be a Final Four-bound season.

    Payne's high stock can be partially attributed to his back-to-back double-doubles in the NCAA tournament against Memphis and Duke (14 points and 10 rebounds in each).

    Payne has expanded his game from just a shot-blocking and dunking center, to a ball-handling and three-point shooting power forward. The potential in Payne's game is scary, and he may now just be scratching the surface.

1. Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State

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    Stat line: 19.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 35.4 minutes

    The Big Ten's leading scorer and First Team All-Big Ten selection is making the right choice by leaving Columbus for the NBA, despite many experts pegging him as a second-round draftee. Thomas scored in double figures in all 37 Buckeye games this season, putting their offense on his back many games, made obvious by his 15.8 shot attempts per game.

    The sweet-stroking lefty from Fort Wayne, IN took the lead following Jared Sullinger and William Buford's departures and ran with it. Thomas could use some improvement on the defensive end, however, which could limit him to becoming an instant-offense-type specialist to begin his NBA career.