Today we continue our Top 25 Big Ten players list with the next five guys up.
In order to determine the listing we voted on which players should be in the top 25. After narrowing down the player list down to 25 guys, we had 15 voters rank each player from 1st to 25th. For the scoring system a 25th place vote was worth 1 point, while a 1st place vote was worth 25 points. To see who voted you can head to the bottom where there is a list of the voters, including a mix of BTP staff and outside writers that cover the Big Ten.
Anyway's, let's continue the list with the next five up.
20. Traevon Jackson (123 points)
With a loaded roster including guys like Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, senior Traevon Jackson can go a bit under noticed but he still plays a vital role on the Badgers roster. The returning point guard will be entering his third season as a starter and should be another highly experienced option on a loaded Wisconsin squad. Sometimes the value of an experienced point guard can be underrated and Jackson's ability to run the offense and distribute the ball will be key to how far Wisconsin can go in the Tournament. He's coming off of his best season by far, averaging 10.7 points and 4 assists per game while being a legitimate perimeter threat thanks to hitting on 38.2% of his three pointers. He isn't the flashiest option on the roster and won't be the guy the media gushes over, but he's going to be the guy with the ball in hand and if Wisconsin wants to replicate last years success it'll need an encore from Jackson at the point.
19. Sam Thompson (124 points)
Thompson sneaks into our list mainly because of where he plays and who's left said program. Simply put, Ohio State is a great team year in and year out and Sam Thompson was a solid role player throughout his career in Columbus. But now with LaQuinton Ross leaving early and guys like Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith also departing, Thompson is now the returning leading scorer and one of the most experienced options on a team high on youth and inexperience. He wasn't "the guy" last year but he was a solid option for Matta, showing the ability to score and pick up some rebounds. He has a decent enough shot and a bit of range (35.5% from three) but the hope is the senior will step up now with the need for someone to take control of the Buckeyes offense. Of course there's a number of fresh faces behind Thompson that could be called in if he struggles, but the senior should be ready for his moment after several years as a role player.
18. Derrick Walton Jr. (128 points)
As a freshman the Wolverines were hoping Walton Jr. could be the man from the get go at the point and while he would land the starting role, at times it seemed like he struggled to fully take control of the spot. With Spike Albrecht seeing some solid playing time off the bench last year (14.7 mpg), Walton was a bit limited with less than 27 minutes per game and only 7.9 points per game. He was a solid shooter from deep, hitting on 41% of his threes, but he committed too many turnovers at times (about one turnover for every two assists). Now that the Wolverines have lost a considerable amount of talent, Walton will be playing a much larger role in Michigan's offense and needs to take better care of the ball. He's extremely talented from an athleticism standpoint, especially compared to Albrecht, and is a great perimeter shooter that can run the ball screen effectively. With everyone departing the Wolverines will need Walton to make the jump in his sophomore season and the sophomore looks ready to get things done in Ann Arbor this winter.
17. DeAndre Mathieu (138 points)
Mathieu was one of the Gophers three main offensive weapons last season and now that guard Austin Hollins has departed, Mathieu will compete with fellow senior Andre Hollins when it comes to being Minnesota's best offensive threat. Mathieu is Minnesota's best shooters by far, hitting 51.1% from the field and an impressive 48.9% from deep (compared to 37.7% and 34.9% from Hollins). That being said, like Walton he has had some issues with turning over the ball, committing almost three turnovers a game last season. If he can cut down on the turnovers it could be a special year for the senior as his ability to shoot and dish the rock is top notch and he's one of the fastest guards in the conference. If Richard Pitino wants to reach the NCAA Tournament in his second season he's going to need Mathieu to step in 2015.
16. Zak Irvin (140 points)
With Nik Stauskas now in Sacramento and the Wolverines frontcourt absolutely decimated by roster turnover, the team will need to rely on guys like Zak Irvin if they want to stay where they're at within the Big Ten. In his freshman season Irvin looked solid as a backup at the wing spot, adding 6.7 points per game in limited minuted (15.4 minutes per game). Irvin was a solid three point shooter at 42.5%, but like Stauskas in his first season at Michigan, Irvin was predominantly a three point specialist (74% of his field goal attempts were threes). With Irvin not doing much inside, not landing many rebounds and not exactly distributing the ball much (13 assists in 569 minutes), there's plenty of room to improve. So far this offseason it looks like Irvin is going to be one of the main scorers for Michigan and should be capable of thriving at the wing. The biggest question is if he can round out his game and improve elsewhere besides shooting from outside. If he can do that, he could be one of the conference's breakout players and second only to Caris LeVert on the Wolverines roster. If not? Well he should still be a solid three point specialist that requires opposing teams to pay close attention to.
List of Voters
Thomas Beindit (BT Powerhouse), Bryan Steedman (BT Powerhouse), Scott Manning (BT Powerhouse), Benno Martens (BT Powerhouse), Andrew R Holmes (BT Powerhouse), Chad Markulics (Black Shoe Diaries), Andrew Emmer (Testudo Times), Drew Hallett (Mazine N Brew), Chris Vannini (SpartanTailgate.com), Jim Vainisi (the Champaign Room), Bucky's 5th Quarter, Travis Miller (Hammer & Rails), Mike Wilson (SpartanDigest), On the Banks, @OSUBballInsider