2011-12 Big Ten Position by Position: Guards

Dylan Burkhardt

In a new 2011-12 preview feature we’ll be looking across the conference, position-by-position, at the Big Ten’s top players. We’ll breakdown the conference’s top 10 guards, wings, combo forwards and centers over the coming week. We’ll start with the guards.

1. Jordan Taylor – Wisconsin

MPG PPG RPG APG ORtg Usage eFG% 3PFG% A Rate TO Rate FT Rate
36.5 18.1 4.1 4.7 126.9 27.4 51.7 42.9 30.4 8.5 41.3

Upside: Taylor was the most efficient player in the conference last season. He was deadly from three point range, didn’t turn the ball over and got to the free throw line often. Most publications have Taylor rated as a preseason All-American and he should fight Jared Sullinger for Big Ten Player of the Year honors.
Downside: While Taylor had the luxury of playing alongside one of the conference’s elite inside-out big men, Jon Leuer, last season, he’ll be forced to play with a front court defined by question marks and inexperience. How does Taylor handle the burden of carrying even more of the offense.

2. Aaron Craft – Ohio State

MPG PPG RPG APG ORtg Usage eFG% 3PFG% A Rate TO Rate FT Rate
29.6 7.0 2.9 4.8 110.5 16.7 53.3 37.7 26.5 26.6 48.9

Upside: Craft was named to the league’s All-Freshman team last season and was one of the unsung heroes of the star-studded Ohio State team that won the conference championship. He was one of the top on-ball defenders in the Big Ten and is more than capable offensively. He connected at a reasonable rate inside and outside the arc, distributed the ball well and got to the free throw line often.
Downside: Playing point guard as a freshman is one of the most difficult assignments in college basketball and Craft performed admirably. Still, he was often the fifth option offensively for Ohio State and he had experienced wing guards and the nation’s best big man down low. He’ll still have Sullinger and Buford but will have to prove he can carry more of the load offensively while cutting down on his turnovers as a sophomore.

3. Bryce Cartwright – Iowa

MPG PPG RPG APG ORtg Usage eFG% 3PFG% A Rate TO Rate FT Rate
31.1 10.9 2.9 5.9 91.6 26.2 42.1 27.5 39.8 23.8 22.0

Upside: Cartwright returns the best assist rate in the conference and could very well improve on those numbers as his teammates become more efficient shooters. He’s the best pure setup man in the league and actually improved his assist numbers in conference play last season.
Downside: Cartwright still has the tendency to force things and turn the ball over, he also needs to become much more efficient in the scoring department. His two point and three point shooting numbers are both below average and he doesn’t get to the line as often as the league’s other guards.

4. Lewis Jackson – Purdue

MPG PPG RPG APG ORtg Usage eFG% 3PFG% A Rate TO Rate FT Rate
26.2 8.0 3.2 4.0 110.4 19.4 52.6 30.0 28.4 21.9 54.0

Upside: After an injury riddled sophomore season, Jackson had a solid junior campaign in West Lafayette. Despite his small stature, Jackson excels scoring inside the arc and does a great job of getting to the free throw line. He’s likely to play an increased role with JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore’s graduation and should be poised for a big season.
Downside: Similar to Craft, Jackson has never played a featured role for the Boilermakers. His lack of perimeter shooting could be a bigger drawback as he takes a leading role in the Purdue backcourt.

5. Tim Frazier – Penn State

MPG PPG RPG APG ORtg Usage eFG% 3PFG% A Rate TO Rate FT Rate
30.8 6.3 3.9 5.1 100.7 18.1 46.4 34.4 33.3 28.6 49.1

Upside: Frazier ended the season on a high note, including a 22 point, 8 rebound and six assist Big Ten Tournament performance against Michigan State, and will look to build on that strong play as a junior. He’s one of the few returning players at Penn State and is almost assured to be the focal point of the Nittany Lion offense.
Downside: Frazier had the luxury of playing alongside Talor Battle for the first two years of his career and didn’t seem to figure everything out until the final 10 to 15 games of last season. Is he ready to be the focal point of an offense at this juncture in his career?

6. Keith Appling – Michigan State
Appling was an effective shooter and great perimeter defender last season, he’s not a point guard but fits the scoring lead guard mold that Tom Izzo’s offense has relied upon recently.

7. DJ Richardson – Illinois
Richardson had a big of a sophomore slump after a terrific freshman year but should bounce back as a junior with ample opportunity in the Illinois backcourt after Demetri McCamey’s graduation.

8. Brandon Wood – Michigan State
One of two fifth-year transfers on the list, Wood will look to make an immediate impact in East Lansing. He took a lot of shots at Valparaiso but made them at an efficient rate, inside and out, and should provide a reliable backcourt scoring option.

9. Sam Maniscalco – Illinois
Maniscalco missed most of last season at Bradley with an injury but the fifth-year senior is likely to start at point guard for Bruce Weber. At Bradley he scored inside and out, got to the free throw line often and did a good job of controlling turnovers.

10. Jordan Hulls – Indiana
Hulls is a shooter first and foremost but has reportedly stepped up as the leader in the Indiana locker room. An improved junior season could be the x-factor to help Indiana to put together a breakout season.

Near Misses (in no particular order): Josh Gasser (Wisconsin), Terone Johnson (Purdue), Shannon Scott (Ohio State), Tracy Abrams (Illinois), Verdell Jones III (Indiana), Trey Burke (Michigan)

  • MHoops1

    A few comments:

    1. Tracy Abrams over Trey Burke? I know you don’t want to be viewed as a homer, Dylan, but I’ve seen them both, and I’d be very surprised if Abram is better than Burke, either this year or down the road.

    2. This is the weakest I’ve ever seen the Big Ten at PG, and it really helps Michigan in terms of breaking in a freshman PG assuming Burke wins the job. When Cartwright, Jackson and Frazier are all top half of the league PGs pre-season, and the guys who might break through are mostly non-PGs who will play the position out of necessity, it’s not a major stretch to think that we could get acceptable Big Ten point play from Burke this year even with the struggles which freshman points often experience.

    • I actually meant to put Burke on the “almost” list – added him now. With so many unproven guys that will be playing large roles there are a ton of guys that could go on that list. Minnesota’s guards, Nebraska’s guards, etc. Those guys will have ample playing time.

      • Sven187

        From what I’ve seen of Tracy Abrams he doesn’t even deserve to sniff the top 30.

    • SamGoBlue

      I agree for the most part with your sentiments. I think sometimes Dylan you are so concerned with being a homer that you completely neglect putting Michigan players on lists like this. While Stu Douglass doesn’t put up big numbers, he is easily more valuable than over half the guys on this list. Bryce Cartwright is simply not good and Tim Frazier can’t hit the broad side of the barn. With the departure of Penn State’s four seniors, Frazier is going to be pretty worthless IMO. I would also move Verdell Jones III way up this list, closer to the top five. Terone Johnson could surprise after a disappointing freshman year, but I also don’t understand all the love for Josh Gasser. He was at best an average role player last year that occasionally made a couple shots. Not a whole lot else going on there. Jordan Taylor is going to have to put that team on his back for them to have a shot at a top two finish.

  • A2JD

    So is this just rating PG’s instead of the “guards” listing in the headline?

    • We’re going to do guards, wing guards, combo/big forward and true bigs. These are mostly shorter guards, guys like Buford and Hardaway will be in the next category.

  • JBlair52

    Nice list Dylan.  #1 was easy!  I think Craft and Cartwright are just really good ball-handlers and get the job done.  They’re good PGs.  I’m interested to see how #4 Lewis Jackson is asked to step up with the departures of Johnson and Moore.  Purdue is going to be needing help for Hummel and I think Jackson is a guy that can step up his production if needed.

  • MGoTweeter

    I have a lot of disagreements over this list, but I will admit that it is a very difficult list to put together since so many of the smallish guards in the Big Ten are nothing special or completely unproven. 

    I think the top four is right, but after that I disagree.  I think Richardson, Gasser, Terone Johnson and Verdall Jones are all better than Tim frazier.  I would probably say that Jones is the best of that bunch.  But those four guys would be my next four after the top four.  Following them would probably be Brandon Wood although I have not seen the kid play very much.  I then think I would throw the whole bunch of freshmen in the mix with guys like Appling, Hulls and Frazier.  Neither Appling nor Hulls, has shown me that much and while Appling has room to improve, Hulls is what he is always going to be.  Frazier is just a guy and he does absolutely nothing that impresses me.  Maniscalco I have no clue on. 

    • It was a tough list to put together, especially because I haven’t seen all of the freshmen play. Unless they are bona fide All-Americans it’s tough to put them ahead of guys that have played at this level. Another guy is Bo Spencer, LSU transfer at Nebraska that I overlooked.

      I’m not a big fan of Verdell Jones and Terone Johnson just wasn’t that productive last year – although he could certainly breakout. 

      It’s a tough list to construct, creates some fun discussion though. A pretty apparent void of proven lead guard talent in the conference to say the least.

      • MGoTweeter

        Yes very difficult.  I think you looked at more in terms of production and I just looked at in terms of guys I would want on my team. 

        Just to add something else: what about Douglass?  He has to be in the mix somewhere right? 

  • Mad(Ison)

    I don’t understand why Jordan Taylor isn’t a bigger NBA prospect. I only saw him play 4 or 5 times last year, but he can shoot, takes care of the ball better than any college PG and plays hard D. He’s not a crazy athlete, but if you can hit 40 percent of your 3’s, play anything but matador D and keep a solid A/TO you’re definitely an NBA starter. DraftExpress has him going 50th. Shouldn’t he be a lot higher?

    • SamGoBlue

      That’s why I hate the NBA. By all means Taylor is a tremendous basketball player in the college ranks. However, because he is not 6’8 and can’t jump 60 inches, he won’t be a first round pick. The NBA is way too concerned with entertainment rather than just playing the game we love. No one wants to see a fundamentally sound player who is 6’0 tall in the NBA just because he is good…he needs to be more EXCITING for their liking. Personally I’d just rather watch basketball, not glorified street ball.

  • ShoelaceNation

    I don’t think people are accounting for off season development enough. Then again, that’s tough to project.

  • ErniePyle

    I realize it’s not my turf, but Jordy hulls @ 10. Wow…after DJ, who was a joke last year, and two guys who didn’t even play last year. I’m sorry but it’s laughable. You could make a case for Hulls at 5 on stats alone.. 11 points and 3 dimes per contest. 2nd in the B1G in scoring amongst PGs