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.
10. D.J. Newbill (208 points)
D.J. is one of the most underrated guys in the conference, probably thanks to playing for lowly Penn State. Breaking out two years ago thanks to an injury to Tim Frazier, Newbill co-existed perfectly with Frazier last season and had an impressive season all around. As a junior Newbill was second in scoring in the Big Ten, averaging almost 18 points per game on 45.2% shooting. He could improve a bit from outside, only converting on 32.6% of his threes, but that was a moderate improvement from his poor 26.7% rate the year before. It'll be interesting to see how Newbill handles his senior season after the departure of Tim Frazier, though. Frazier's Achilles injury made Newbill run the point the year before, resulting in a not so pretty assist/turnover ratio (125 assists, 120 turnovers). Playing off the ball is Newbill's strength and his offensive numbers improved last year, so will they regress with the guard likely running the point once again? Even more importantly for Penn State's success, can Newbill run the offense more efficiently and lower his turnovers this time around. If Penn State wants to improve that will be key this season.
9. Rayvonte Rice (214 points)
The Drake transfer hit the ground running for Illinois, leading the team in scoring with 15.9 points per game in his first year of seeing the court here. Of course Illinois didn't have much of an offense, either, with only one additional guy averaging double digits (Abrams, 10.7 PPG) as they ranked 311th in scoring offense. The Illini should be better this year and a lot of that will stem from the development of Rice as he hopes to blossom into one of the next Big Ten stars. The one thing that Rice would benefit from is cleaning up his shot from outside, as he only hit 29.5% of his 156 three pointers. If Rice can't improve from deep he'd likely benefit from not shooting 4.5 treys per game (it'd also likely improve his 43% field goal rate). Last year as a junior Rice's numbers declined down the stretch, possibly due to an increase in the talent level of opposing teams, so if Illinois wants to get back to the NCAA Tournament they'll need Rice to have a complete season this time around.
8. A.J. Hammons (232 points)
The seven foot Purdue center had a season of considerable progress even if his stat line didn't change very much. After a freshman season where the big more or less came and went without consistently putting in much of an effort, the sophomore looked revitalized last season as he seemingly pieced things together. Unfortunately for the Boilers, Hammons picked up an issue with committing fouls and saw his playing time get slashed far too often as he was vulnerable to picking up cheap fouls. The issue with fouls, while problematic, is fixable, as well as Hammons notable problem with turnovers. For whatever reason the center has a tendency to put the ball down on the court when getting it inside, leading to his 2.5 turnovers per game. Now for the good, when Hammons is on he is absolutely dominating on defense and most likely the best defensive big in the conference (7.4 RPG, 3.1 BPG). His offensive game, while a bit raw when he can't go straight to the rim, has vastly improved and he's a game changer on both sides of the ball. Even better? He'll now likely have a less selfish point guard to feed him the ball, improving his looks down low after Ronnie Johnson neglected Hammons more often then not last season. If Hammons can clean up his game he very well could be the best, or at least one of the best, players in the conference.
7. Aaron White (246 points)
Last season the Hawkeyes had a balanced rotation, with nine different guys averaging at least 15 minutes per game. Most of the players hovered in between 15-23 minutes per game, with only two players averaging more minutes per game. One was Devyn Marble, the other was Aaron White (28.1 MPG). White was also the second leading scorer, benefiting from an impressive 58.4% field goal rate and hitting almost 81% of his free throws. The 6'9 forward was both a capable inside scorer and rebounder (averaging 6.7 per game), as well as occasionally being able to step outside and hit from three from time to time. With Marble gone White could see even more looks on offense and he's one of the most underrated guys in the Big Ten. If Iowa can build off of last season's performance look for White to get plenty of attention this winter.
6. Branden Dawson (292 points)
Gary Harris, Adreian Payne, Keith Appling and Kenny Kaminski are all gone. And while the Spartans return a few guys of value, Dawson is going to be key if Izzo is going to keep Michigan State at the same level. With all of the departures it's finally the seniors turn to be the guy and one has to wonder if he'll be able to take advantage of the situation. He's definitely a threat from inside, hitting on 61.3% of his field goals, but his mid-range game is lacking and he doesn't shoot from deep. With all of the offensive production departing there will be pressure for Dawson to develop a more capable scoring presence from mid-range and to improve his scoring ability (11.2 PPG last year). The potential is there, as well as the ability to clean up on the glass and play strong defense, but if Dawson can't take control of the team it could prove problematic for the Spartans. There are also plenty of fresh faces coming into East Lansing, but Izzo and company are hoping Dawson can take off as the man in his final season. After improving from year to year throughout his entire career one has to imagine Dawson is ready to make the leap.
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