Big Ten’s Top 25 Players: 20-16

Michigan-76-Ohio-State-74-OT-24With the official start of practice less than five weeks away, Inside the Hall and UM Hoops have partnered to bring you a preseason breakdown of the top 25 players in the Big Ten for the 2013-2014 season.

Our selection process involved much deliberation to arrive at a list that we hope will provide plenty of reaction and debate. The series will be broken into five parts (25-21) and our second installment of players 20-16 is available below:

20. D.J. Newbill, Penn State (6-foot-4, guard, junior)
36.5 mpg, 16.3 ppg, 5 rpg, 4 apg, 1.2 spg, 42.8 eFG percentage

Newbill’s role took on a major shift just four games into last season when Penn State lost Tim Frazier for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. The transfer from Southern Miss instantly became a go-to scoring option for Pat Chambers as he used 30.9 percent of his team’s possessions, the highest usage for any Big Ten player. On a winning team, Newbill’s stats would have been good enough for All-Big Ten status, but Penn State finished in the league cellar. Efficiency wasn’t really Newbill’s calling card as he shot just 43.4 percent on 2-point field goals and a dismal 26.7 percent on 3-pointers. He did, however, draw 5.8 fouls per 40 minutes and posted an assist rate of 29.5, which was fourth among Big Ten players. As a redshirt junior, he’ll welcome Frazier back into the lineup and form what should be one of the league’s more potent backcourts.

19. Branden Dawson, Michigan State (6-foot-6, forward, junior)
26.9 mpg, 8.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.6 spg, 1.3 apg, 53.1 eFG percentage

As remarkable as Dawson’s speedy return from a torn ACL was, his production didn’t make the leap that many projected after a solid freshman campaign. Despite a rise in playing time by more than six per minutes per game, his overall numbers only took a modest leap and his shooting numbers were down across the board. He was also less effective on the offensive glass as his offensive rebounding percentage dropped from 13.3 percent as a freshman to 9.9 as a sophomore. His assignment on this list was one of our tougher tasks because of his unquestioned talent and upside, but the reality to this point in his career is that Dawson is an undersized forward who hasn’t proven he can shoot outside of ten feet.

18. Nik Stauskas, Michigan (6-foot-6, guard, sophomore)
30.5 mpg, 11.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.3 apg, .6 spg, 59.7 eFG percentage

Elite shooters are a commodity at any level of basketball and that’s exactly what Stauskas was last season at Michigan. Surrounded by two first round NBA Draft picks in Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. and two future first rounders in Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary, Stauskas hit 44 percent of his 3-pointers, which is exactly the role John Beilein needed him to fill. His 22 points against Florida in the NCAA tournament helped push the Wolverines to their first Final Four appearance since 1993. As a sophomore, Stauskas will likely find himself with more opportunities in screening situations, where he scored 1.18 points per possession as a freshman. That was the highest of any Big Ten player with more than 25 attempts.

17. A.J. Hammons, Purdue (7-foot-0, center, sophomore)
23.1 mpg, 10.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2 bpg, 49.5 eFG percentage

Despite a proclamation that Hammons could be a contender for Big Ten player of the year by ESPN college basketball analyst and radio host Dan Dakich, we’re not ready to cast the Purdue sophomore in that role just yet. Hammons had a very good freshman season as he ranked in the top ten in the conference in offensive rebounding percentage (11.6) and block percentage (8.7). But as dominant as Hammons was at times, he also had games where he either battled foul trouble or just wasn’t in the condition to play more than 20 minutes. The good news for Purdue fans is that Hammons has reportedly trimmed down even more. He was listed at 280 pounds last season and is now listed at 256 on Purdue’s official site, which makes him a candidate to outperform his spot on this list.

16. Roy Marble, Iowa (6-foot-6, guard, senior)
30.5 mpg, 15.0 ppg, 4 rpg, 3 apg, 1.1 spg, 46.6 eFG percentage

Iowa got another taste of the postseason last year under Fran McCaffery – albeit in the NIT – but the Hawkeyes look poised for the NCAA tournament this year and Marble is a big reason why. Marble led the Hawkeyes all the way to the NIT finals last season as he averaged averaged 20.6 points, 2.4 steals and four rebounds in five games. Iowa returns the core of its team, led by Aaron White and Marble. One of the strengths of his game is getting to the line as he posted a free throw rate of 44.0 percent last season and hit 81 percent from the line. The 3-point shot became a much bigger part of his offensive game as a junior as he took 150 shots from beyond the perimeter, where he hit just 32.7 percent. As a senior, Marble may be best served to become a little more selective offensively, especially on the perimeter, and look to distribute more (22.4 assist rate as a junior).

  • Steve2081

    I still think Nik will be our best player.

    • kam

      Offensively I actually agree with you. Defensively and overall game No he wont.

      • Steve2081

        I expect him to close the gap in both defense and rebounding this season.

        • kam

          you cant teach great defense.. you can become solid but Caris and glenn are longer and have better lateral quickness than him which you cant teach.. They will always be better defenders but rebounding he can easily improve! but yes i agree he will close the gap and improve this year!

          • dave smith

            if you will recall, its Caris that allowed the tying basket and game winner when we lost against Wisconsin. He also is the one that got 3 three pointers jacked in his face in the last 3 minutes of the first half of the Louisville game. So lets not pretend that he’s a “great” defender.

          • Northern Blue

            I think he has shown some flashes and he has also grown atleast an inch since last season according to a bunch of reports. You are right no one could say he is “great” yet, but I think you could say the same about Jordan his first year as a defender, and then he progressed every year. I think you see the same thing with Caris, where as an upperclassmen he will be a very good defender.

          • kam

            I agree with this! Ive seen him he looks around 6’7 and has put on weight. But i agree he was a freshman of course he will make mistakes.

          • kam

            First off he allowed a tying half court shot not a game winner.. and those 3s were off screens which its as much the other defenders job to jump out and hedge . Do you remember when he held Garry harris to 2-8 shooting? How about when he guarded Brandon paul? what about brandon triche and james shotherland? He may not be ” great” now i said he has the potential to be. even Belien said hes as good a defender as anyone on the team. He was a FRESHMAN who guarded other teams best guards. Give him some credit haha

          • hailtoyourvictor

            Caris LeVert is the best defender on our roster any anyone disagreeing really didn’t watch closely last year.

          • kam

            There was no game winner.. Trevon scored on trey burke. Caris already was athletic and i really think he will challenge Nik. I really like Nik but his Defense was AWFUL. And if you look at Bacaris tweets hes been saying Caris’ offense is far improved and hes taller and stronger. And Caris really doesn’t need to jump leaps and Bounds. The only thing Nik was better at was clearly better at was Shooting because hes amazing. We will see I’ve heard from a lot of people caris will have a great year. Go Blue

          • BlueBasketeer

            Disagree strongly. Defense, and in addition, working well within a team defensive system, HAS to be coached. A big guy can be a natural shot blocker, yes, but there’s a lot more to defense than that, and guys like Stauskas, LeVert, Robinson and McGary have the potential to improve considerably in that area.

    • jblair52

      I think he is our best offensive scorer/weapon. It’ll be interesting to see if MM keeps his tourney roll going and how GRIII has progressed in the offseason (I think he added good weight and increased his vertical as well)

      These 3 could go down as a great trio for UM

  • kam

    NIK is SOOO Underrated…

  • A State Fan

    I’m suprised to see dawson on this list after his plateau last year. Hopefully he can become more reliable on offense.

  • Brian Grossman

    Dawson is not a top 25 player in the B10. Good player but will still be just a strong role player for MSU, with a break out game here or there based on matchup. Then the “ability” and “potential” tags will come with it.

    • jblair52

      …and just who exactly are you saying should replace him?

      • Brian Grossman

        I’d need to see the rest of the Top 25, to give an accurate answer. I will say Lenzelle Smith Jr. and Terone Johnson are larger contributors to their teams both are going into their senior year which might be there last year, playing organized basketball and is a huge motivational factor for a player. They should be ranked where Dawson is or higher.

        • jblair52

          a) those guys are in the top 25 listed…who outside the top 25 would you replace him with?

          b) arguing Dawson at #18 vs. Smith at #21 is kind of silly IMO.

          As the writeup mentions, Dawson is hard to place. His production wasn’t great but he still has a lot of potential.

  • Mattski

    Think Nik could blow up this year, and be playing himself into the top 25 in the draft the next. His somewhat limited role and confidence hurt him a little last year, but if he starts playing with the fearlessness that a bulked up body can help provide. . . We all know that he can be money.

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