Big Ten Basketball: Ranking the Freshman Classes

Geoff Estes@TheGeffyManCorrespondent INovember 11, 2011

Big Ten Basketball: Ranking the Freshman Classes

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    Big Ten Basketball is here. 

    College Basketball is set for a huge season.  The talent is as deep as it has been in years.  The ratings are bound to go up, due to not only the talent, but also the NBA lockout. 

    Realignment brings Nebraska to the Big Ten for the first year.  Some of the top recruits in the country come to the Big Ten.  The new division alignment comes to the Big Ten.  Should be an exciting year.

    This is a preview and ranking of all of the new freshmen on each Big Ten team.  The teams are ranked according to my predictions on their value as a class. 

    Let me know your thoughts on your teams new faces.

12. Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    Nebraska's first year in the Big Ten brings with it a decent batch of freshmen.  Too bad "decent" doesn't cut it in this year's Big Ten.

    Nebraska brings in three freshmen this year to help a team facing it's first Big Ten schedule.

    David Rivers is a Small Forward from Arkansas.  Rivers put up good numbers in high school (19 ppg, seven rpg and three apg) and was rated as the No. 46 Small Forward coming out of high school by ESPN.

    Corey Hillard is another middle of the pack talent the Cornhuskers will have this year.  Hilliard averaged 17.4 ppg and 1.8 spg in high school.  He was rated as the No. 52 Point Guard by ESPN.

    Josiah Moore is the third freshman.  He was second team All-State in Georgia last year, while averaging only 11.1 ppg and 5.4 rpg

    Nebraska's freshman class shows some promise for the future if they can all develop.  As for this season, I wouldn't expect too much from the Cornhuskers freshmen.

11. Purdue Boilermakers

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    Purdue, who has been a Big Ten power for the last few years, brings in a disappointing recruiting class, by Matt Painter's recent historic standards.

    Purdue's best recruit coming in is probably Donnie Hale.  Hale was rated as the No. 25 Power Forward by ESPN.  He averaged 15 ppg and 10 rpg in high school.

    Purdue's other two recruits are Jacob Lawson and Neal Beshears.  Lawson was rated as the No. 31 Power Forward by  Lawson is a big boy (6'8/218) and averaged 14.5 ppg, 12.5 rpg and 5.5 bpg as a senior in high school.  Beshears is a walk-on.

    Purdue should be good again, with the return of Robbie Hummel, but they will be a veteran group, getting little help from the newcomers.

10. Northwestern Wildcats

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    Bill Carmody is trying to finally get Northwestern over the hump and into the NCAA Tournament.  This year's freshman class may be a step in that direction.

    While 10th on the list may not seem great, Northwestern's freshmen are nothing to be overlooked. 

    Dave Sobolewski finished fifth in Illinois Mr. Basketball voting, and was named to the Chicago Sun-Times 4A All-State team.  He averaged 15.2 ppg, 6.1 apg, 3.8 rpg and 2.7 spg as a senior.

    Mike Turner was rated as the 24th best player coming out of Illinois last year.  He had impressive numbers as a senior, averaging 18.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg and 2.2 bpg.

    Tre Demps is the third freshman for the Wildcats.  Demps was a member of the Texas 5A All-State Team, averaging 16.5 ppg in high school.

    It is always harder for Carmody to recruit than other schools due to Northwestern's academic standards, but he has done a fine job in 2011.

9. Iowa Hawkeyes

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    As an alum of the University of Iowa, I have felt really good about Iowa's freshman coming into this season.  It was hard for me to put them ninth on this list, but it was even harder to move them up any further.

    Kyle Denning is a walk-on from Cedar Falls. Denning was the 1A player of the year last season in Iowa and holds school records for career steals, assists and three pointers.

    Gabe Olaseni is a 6'10" freshman from London, England.  Olaseni have been receiving rave reviews out of Iowa City as a potential big man who can block shots and run the floor.

    Josh Oglesby is a sharp-shooter from Cedar Rapids who should help the Hawkeyes space the floor and knock down some threes.  Oglesby put up over 20 points and seven boards for Cedar Rapids Washington last season as a senior.

    Aaron White is the freshman getting the most love right now.  White is a 6'8"/224 freshman from Ohio.  White impressed all summer in the Prime Time League, as well as in Iowa's only exhibition game.  White has potential to get a lot of minutes as a forward who can go outside and knock down shots or take the ball to the hoop.

    I am hoping for good things in Iowa City this season, and I think these four players are a good start.

8. Michigan Wolverines

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    Michigan made a big splash last week when they signed Mitch McGary to the 2012 recruiting class.  The 2011 recruiting class is not too shabby itself.

    Trey Burke is perhaps the most celebrated entering the season.  Burke was a Parade second Team All-American and was Mr. Basketball in the state of Ohio.  It was announced last week that Burke will be the Wolverines starting Point Guard, instead of senior Stu Douglass. 

    Carlton Brundidge is a nice compliment to Burke.  Brundidge was first Team All-State in Michigan as a senior, averaging 20.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg and 4.8 apg.  Brundidge is reported to be a very explosive scorer, which would be a nice addition to the Wolverines already potent backcourt.

    Sai Tummala and Max Bielfeldt round out the class.  Tummala put up 17.7 ppg and 8.1 rpg in high school, while Bielfeldt averaged 20 ppg and 11.1 rpg.

    The Wolverines will have a lot of attention on them next year, thanks to McGary, but coach John Beilein hope the winning ways begin a year early.

7. Minnesota Golden Gophers

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    Minnesota brings in an impressive three-man recruiting class.  It includes the Mr. Basketball from both the state of Minnesota and the state of Tennessee.

    Joe Coleman was the 2011 Mr. Basketball in Minnesota.  He was rated as the No. 92 prospect by ESPN.  Coleman averaged 21.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, and 1.7 spg as a senior.

    Andre Hollins was the recipient of the award of Mr. Basketball in Tennessee.  Hollins put up 23.3 ppg as a senior and was rated as the 77th best prospect by ESPN.

    The third freshmen is Kendal Shell.  Shell was an all-around athlete in high school, including being the Silver Slugger award winner in baseball in Minnesota.

    Shell and Hollins also bring intelligence to the Gophers.  Shell got a 29 on his ACT, while Hollins received a 28.  Hollins also posted a 4.8 GPA in high school. 

    Tubby Smith doesn't have to worry about these freshman in the classroom, but the Big Ten may have to worry about them on the court.

6. Penn State Nittany Lions

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    Finally, some good news for Penn State.  The 2011 recruiting class for the Nittany Lions is impressive.

     Penn State brings in five new freshman to begin coach Patrick Chambers' first year. 

    Patrick Ackerman is the prize of the class.  Ackerman is 6'11"/240 and was nominated as a McDonald's All-American last season.  His inside game is complimented by a decent outside game for a guy standing 6'11".

    Trey Lewis has potential to be a good player for Penn State as well.  Lewis finished second in Ohio's Mr. Basketball voting.  He was named as the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Ohio player of the year.  Lewis averaged 23 ppg, 5.1 apg and 4.8 rpg as a senior.

    Peter Alexis joins Ackerman in what could be a very dangerous front court.  Alexis is 6'10"/255, and put up 20.2 ppg and 10.5 rpg as a senior.

    Kevin Montminy, a walk on, and Travis Ross, a three-star recruit according to ESPN, round out the class.

5. Wisconsin Badgers

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    Wisconsin just never goes away.  Bo Ryan consistently brings in good recruits, and makes them into great teams.

    The 2011 class for Wisconsin is led by 6'11 Frank Kaminsky.  Kaminsky was named to the Chicago Sun-Times first Team All-State in Illinois.  He averaged 14.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg and 4.2 bpg.

    Jarrod Uthoff from Cedar Rapids, Iowa is a potential sleeper as a Big Ten Freshman.  Uthoff comes from the same area as former Wisconsin sharp-shooter Jason Bohannon.  Uthoff is 6'8", averaged 26.2 ppg and 11.2 rpg as a senior, and was named Iowa's Mr. Basketball.

    Traevon Jackson was second Team All-State in Ohio.  He put up 18.3 ppg and 7 rpg in Ohio.  His is the son of former Ohio State and NBA star Jimmy Jackson.

    Jordan Smith was the 3A Minnesota Player of the Year last season.  He put up 21.5 ppg as a senior.

    George Marshall rounds out the class.  Marshall was second Team All State in Illinois last season.

    Bo Ryan went all over the Midwest to bring in this class, and it should be worth it.

4. Indiana Hoosiers

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    Indiana's 2011 class isn't all that impressive, except for one person.  That person is Cody Zeller.

    Zeller was a top recruit by any rankings.  He is 6'11"/230 and was Mr. Basketball in Indiana.  Zeller was a McDonald's All-American and was rated as the top recruit in the country by  He averaged 24.6 ppg and 13 rpg as a senior. 

    The other two freshmen are Austin Etherington and Remy Abell.  Both were first Team All-State selections.  Etherington put up over 18 points and eight boards as a senior.

    Etherington and Abell could be nice players for the Hoosiers, but Zeller could be a program changer.  The Hoosiers have fallen on tough times, and if Zeller lives up to the hype, things could be back to the usual winning ways in Bloomington.

3. Michigan State Spartans

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    Michigan State has been in the news a lot the last couple days because of where they are playing tonight: on an aircraft carrier.  I am more interested in how they play tonight.

    The Spartans had a bit of a down year last year, but bring in a good recruiting class to help get them back to usual Tom Izzo style basketball.

    Branden Dawson is the star of the MSU class.  Dawson average almost 29 ppg and 19 rpg in high school.  He should be an immediate contributor to the Spartans on both sides of the floor.

    Travis Trice is another nice player brought in by Izzo.  Trice was voted as Gatorade's 2011 Ohio Player of the Year.  Trice averaged 24.4 ppg and 7.2 apg as a senior, and was involved in countless extracurricular activities in high school, which will help with the Spartan's off-court reputation that was hurt a little bit last season.

    Brandan Kearney is the final freshman for MSU.  Kearney is a scoring/slashing guard from the Detroit area. 

    Michigan State has a brutal early season schedule, but it should help these three freshmen grow and be ready for Big Ten play.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Thad Matta just keeps doing it.  Ohio State brings in Top 10 class after Top 10 class.

    Amir Williams may be the most valuable of the freshmen this year.  Williams is 6'11"/220 and is a presence inside.  This will allow super-soph Jared Sullinger to play the power forward position.  Williams was rated as the No. 4 Center coming out of high school according to ESPN.

    Shannon Scott should be an immediate contributor as well.  Scott was a McDonald's All-American and was the Georgia 5A Player of the Year. 

    Sam Thompson was rated as the #12 Small Forward according to ESPN.  He averaged 17.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 5.5 apg and 3.3 bpg as a senior.

    Trey McDonald is the final recruit.  He put up over nine points and six rebounds per game as a senior in high school.

    Ohio State football may be having a down year by their standards, but don't expect the basketball team to do the same.

1. Illinois Fighting Illini

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    I hate to do this.  The Illinois Fighting Illini are my absolute least favorite college basketball team, mainly due to living on the border of Iowa and Illinois.  However, I have to give credit where credit is due.  The Illini and Bruce Weber have brought in an excellent recruiting class.

    Tracy Abrams is rated as the 58th best recruit by  He put up 17.7 ppg and 6.2 rpg in high school.

    Mike Shaw was a first Team All-State selection and was rated by Rivals as the 59th best player.

    Mike Henry averaged 25 ppg and 11 rpg in high school, and was also an AP first Team All-Stater.  Henry was rated as the No. 39 recruit by Rivals.

    Devin Langford averaged over 21 ppg and 14 rpg as a senior and was first Team All-State in Alabama last year.

    Nnanna Egwu is a 6'11"/245 freshman who was rated as the No. 69 recruit by ESPN and was also a 1st Team All-State selection.

    Ibby Djimde is the least heralded of the Illini freshmen, but even he shows a ton of potential.  Djimde is 6'8"/250, and will provide a huge inside presence.

    The Illini brought in a great class.  I can't stomach saying anything else nice about them.