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.
15. Denzel Valentine (164 points)
The junior guard from Lansing will be key to Michigan State's success after guys like Gary Harris and Adreian Payne have moved on to the NBA. The 6'5 guard was a bit streaky last season and his 40.8% field goal shooting and 8 points per game numbers will need improvement, but his ability to hit from outside (37.7% from three) and his 6 rebounds per game added a solid weapon to the Spartans roster. It's now Valentine's time to shine and he's been off to a solid start after posting a double-double and a triple-double in State's two exhibition games. At the wing Valentine is already a perimeter threat, as well as a fully capable rebounder and a guy that can distribute the ball, so if he can touch up his shooting inside and play more consistently he should be on the verge of a breakout season. Look for Valentine to likely be the next big thing from East Lansing.
14. Nigel Hayes (165 points)
Nigel Hayes emerged in his freshman season as a major weapon off the Wisconsin bench, averaging 7.7 points per game and a handful of rebounds in moderate amount of minutes. The 6'7 forward became an efficient sixth man for the Badgers and saw a considerable amount of playing time throughout Big Ten play. If Hayes can continue to develop he's on pace to be one of the conference's top forwards, with the only thing currently holding him back being a loaded Wisconsin roster that includes Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky above him already. What works best for Hayes is his versatility, with the sophomore being a capable scorer both inside and outside. At times his mid-range game and overall speed brings back some memories of former Big Ten guys like JaJuan Johnson, with Hayes well rounded game not far removed from JJs. Hayes is going to be good, the only thing keeping him from being higher on the list is his playing time will most likely be somewhat stifled by a few guys set to show up later on our list.
13. Shavon Shields (172 points)
Not many people expected the late Nebraska push and part of the surge stemmed from wing Shavon Shields as the sophomore emerged and finally broke through after a so-so freshman season. Shields proved to be one of the Cornhuskers better scoring options, adding 12.8 points per game, while also bringing in just shy of six boards an outing. The junior could improve a bit from outside as his three point shooting dropped last year to 31.6%, but he's going to be one of the keys if Nebraska wants to maintain their new found success. Also, Shields has a knack for getting to the line, averaging almost 6 free throw attempts per game. That number's not too shabby considering his status more as a perimeter player. Shields is a solid companion to guys like Terran Petteway and Walter Pitchford and if he can improve from outside he'll be a legitimately well-rounded offensive threat for the Cornhuskers.
12. Andre Hollins (192 points)
Andre Hollins will team up with DeAndre Mathieu to form one of the better Big Ten backcourt duos. The senior will also be incredibly important to Minnesota if they want to get back to the NCAA Tournament. While Hollins is one of the top players in the conference, there has to be some hope he returns to the form he showed in his sohpomore seasons. The 6'2 guard is capable of scoring up and down the court, distribute the rock and add some rebounds to the box score, but last season was still a bit of a drop off. Hollins only managed to hit on 37.7% of his field goals, a decline of about 4% from 2012-13, and saw his three point shooting percentage crater from 41.8% to 34.9%. He's one of the conference's best free throw shooters (84.1%) and a well rounded scoring option, but if he can get back to what he was doing in 2012-13 then he could be one of the best guards in the conference hands down. The pressure on Hollins increases quite a bit as well when you take into realization the departure of Austin Hollins. Luckily for Andre he hopefully won't be battling another lingering injury this season and should improve from last years decline.
11. Dez Wells (197 points)
Interestingly enough a team full of roster turnover will now have to rely even more on a guy who was originally a transfer himself. The former Xavier wing joined the Terps in 2012 and has had an immediate effect, reaching a career high in scoring last year with 14.9 points per game. Wells is more of an inside threat, only shooting 1.8 threes per game, and that might be a good thing as his three point shooting has dropped every season of his career (bottoming out last year at 30.4%). Wells was an effective scorer inside though, hitting on 51.9% of his two pointers. He's also a great free throw shooter, converting on almost 82% of his 186 attempts from the charity stripe. Thanks to a roster with plenty of turnover and quite a few freshmen, senior Dez Wells needs to be a leader for this Maryland team as they head to the Big Ten. If Wells can match his production his first two years in College Park, he's going to become a major headache for opposing Big Ten schools that have yet to see the guard in action.
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