Big Ten Basketball: Power Ranking the Top 25 Players
Just as it was in 2012-13, the Big Ten should be the nation's elite conference in 2013-14. Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State all have top-10 potential. Wisconsin can never be counted out, Iowa is on the rise and Illinois should make another NCAA tournament appearance.
The rankings of these players are based on a Big Ten mock draft that I participated in this past Sunday evening along with others. Your roster contains two guards, two forwards, a center and a utility, one of which must be a freshman.
There are three fantasy statistics that players are based on: points, rebounds/blocks combined and assists/steals combined. So, while a player's fantasy value may not be the same as their overall value as a player and to their team, this should offer a unique look at the players the Big Ten has to offer in 2013-14.
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1. Andre Hollins, G, Minnesota
2. Tim Frazier, G, Penn State
3. Adreian Payne, F/C, Michigan State
4. Aaron Craft, G, Ohio State
5. Gary Harris, G, Michigan State
Surprisingly, Golden Gophers point guard Andre Hollins was picked first. Hollins and fellow backcourt mate Austin Hollins will be Minnesota's offense in an up-and-down style of play under Richard Pitino. Tim Frazier is a stat-sheet stuffer who missed most of the 2012-13 season due to injury.
Adreian Payne is an All-American candidate who has expanded his game each year under Tom Izzo. Aaron Craft is a hard-nosed defender who will need to improve as a scorer, while Harris is a dynamic scorer who will once again form a deadly inside-outside duo with Payne in East Lansing.
Picked Too High: Hollins
Picked Too Low: Harris
Hollins will certainly have opportunities to shine in a faster-paced, guard-heavy offense, though he can't yet be described as the Big Ten's top player in any sense. Harris will put up gaudy scoring numbers as he can beat you from the outside or off the dribble.
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6. Keith Appling, G, Michigan State
7. Roy Devyn Marble, G/F, Iowa
8. Derrick Walton, G, Michigan
9. Noah Vonleh, F, Indiana
10. Mitch McGary, F, Michigan
Keith Appling had a shaky junior year but is primed for a Final Four run as a senior. Roy Devyn Marble is a lanky guard who should get Iowa back into the NCAA tournament. Derrick Walton will take the reins at point guard for the Wolverines following Trey Burke's departure for the NBA.
Noah Vonleh will be an immediate impact player for Tom Crean's Hoosiers, stepping into the power forward position that Christian Watford held down for four seasons. Mitch McGary needs to build upon an impressive March Madness when he turned into a double-double machine.
Picked Too High: Walton
Picked Too Low: McGary
Walton has big shoes to fill, and although he is the anticipated starting point guard, Spike Albrecht will certainly fight for playing time there, too. Walton will shine in Beilein's offense, just as point guards Burke and Darius Morris have. Not only is McGary going to put up double digits in points and rebounds consistently, he can also defend and is the league's best passing big man.
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11. D.J. Newbill, G/F, Penn State
12. Glenn Robinson III, F, Michigan
13. Sam Dekker, F, Wisconsin
14. Drew Crawford, G/F, Northwestern
15. A.J. Hammons, C, Purdue
D.J. Newbill did his best Tim Frazier impersonation a year ago but now gets the chance to form a deadly backcourt with Frazier in Happy Valley. Glenn Robinson will need to adjust in his move from power forward to small forward.
Sam Dekker is a future pro who steps into a Badger frontcourt that lost three seniors from last season. Drew Crawford returns to Evanston as a redshirt senior following a missed season due by injury. A.J. Hammons is a legitimate force on the inside who will bang in the paint on a nightly basis.
Picked Too High: Newbill
Picked Too Low: Dekker
Coming off a stellar first season at Penn State, Newbill's numbers should decrease ever so slightly with Frazier's return. Frazier is also a great rebounding guard and will be the primary ball-handler and assist-maker on that team, though Newbill will still score plenty. Dekker will be Wisconsin's best player and will see minutes at both forward positions as a sophomore.
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16. Aaron White, F, Iowa
17. Nik Stauskas, G/F, Michigan
18. Branden Dawson, F, Michigan State
19. Tracy Abrams, G, Illinois
20. Yogi Ferrell, G, Indiana
Aaron White is a versatile forward who can score in a variety of ways. Nik Stauskas is a deadly outside shooter who needs improvement on the defensive end of the court. Branden Dawson is an offensive rebounding machine and freak athlete who needs to develop a more consistent jump shot.
Tracy Abrams' role as a scorer will expand following the graduations of four-year players Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson. The small but quick Yogi Ferrell is in a similar situation to Abrams while also improving upon his decision-making.
Picked Too High: Stauskas
Picked Too Low: Dawson
Stauskas is as good a jump shooter as any in the country, though he won't be a major contributor in any other statistical category. Dawson will now be able to play more power forward with Derrick Nix's graduation. This should help Dawson grab more boards, leading to easy buckets and finishes above the rim.
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21. Mike Gesell, G, Iowa
22. Rayvonte Rice, G, Illinois
23. Nnanna Egwu, F/C, Illinois
24. Austin Hollins, G, Minnesota
25. Will Sheehey, G/F, Indiana
Mike Gesell is a steady point guard who has a nice outside stroke. Rayvonte Rice is a big-bodied wing who transferred home to Illinois from Drake after two successful seasons there. Nnanna Egwu is coming into his own and should be both an offensive and defensive force for the Fighting Illini on the inside.
Austin Hollins is a top-notch defender, as well as a sweet-stroking shooter, who is due for a big final season in Minneapolis. Will Sheehey is a slashing wing, though he needs to become more efficient at the free-throw line, which he frequents.
Picked Too High: Gesell
Picked Too Low: Rice
Gesell was Iowa's third-leading scorer as a freshman. As a sophomore, he will once again finish third in points at best. Melsahn Basabe, Adam Woodbury and Jarrod Uthoff are all bigs that could surpass Gesell this season. Rice will be Illinois' best player, a natural slasher who will get to the free-throw line at will. He rebounds well for a guard and won't be intimidated in his move to the Big Ten.