A few weeks ago, writers from all over the mother land converged on Chicago and submitted their Preseason All-Big Ten selections. While there wasn't too much out of the ordinary in terms of the players selected, I generally find those lists boring and unimaginative. It has nothing to do with the players on the list -- heck some of them will find themselves on mine. But they tend to leave out the fringe players. The players that are a little whacky. The players with unbelievable confidence. The players with madness in their games. The players that kill it on the court and on Instagram. The players that weirdos like me love and so many love to hate.
Don't think of this as another bullet point click bait full of the Big Ten's best players, but a selection of our favorite players that we can't wait to watch both on and off the court.
Ladies and Gentleman, without further adieu, the first annual veteran Preseason Powerhouse All-Big Ten Team:
G Melo Trimble, Maryland Terrapins
Why he made the list: First of all, can I give a little love to the hair. He's like the Odell Beckham of the Big Ten. It's the type of up-do that makes me think it's only a matter of time until he throws down a two finger alley-oop on some poor soul in transition. I'm all in on the crisp line-up, frosted tips and the defining streak right above his left ear.
Basketball wise, he's one of the best point guards in the country. Beyond that, he's a massacre waiting to happen dressed in an Under Armour jersey. He's got some of the quickest feet in the nation and he puts opposing defenders on skates the minute he puts the ball on the ground. He has a natural ability to turn any corner and fly into the lane. And once he's there, he's scoring.
What I love most about watching him attack is that he has this finishing move with a defender on his hip where he leaps earlier than anyone anticipates and glides to the hoop, holding the ball to the outside of his body like a Bennigans server with a tray full of Monte Cristos. He constantly flashes the ball in front of your face (both while dribbling and going up for a lay-up) only to pull it away at the very last second -- a la James Harden -- which helped him draw 6.3 fouls per 40 minutes last season (42nd in the nation).
With or without traffic and no matter the size of the body in front of him, he's a force. He's an atom bomb. But he's also a stoic. It's impossible to get under his skin. He just smiles in your face and then leaves you in a cloud of dust.
Oh, and lest we forget, he's got some of the sickest handles in basketball. No seriously, look below...
One Vine/Insta/YouTube that supports your last statement:
Why the great people of the Big Ten should love him: Free hugs anyone?
2015-16 Predictions: Big Ten Player of the Year. At least 15 Vines of honest to goodness "jump out of your chair and scream" plays that his opponents will want to burn. Seven or more fouls drawn per 40 minutes.
C Alex Olah, Northwestern Wildcats
Why he made the list: The Big Romanian needs to be appreciated this year. I'll settle for nothing else. He's been shunned ever since he arrived in the United States and we cannot stand for this. He's gotten progressively better with every passing year and I don't expect anything less in his senior season. He's the perfect pick and roll screener (with a sneaky-good roll game) and extremely consistent in all of the fundamentals of basketball. He'll box out. He'll pass out of a perfect triple threat stance. He has a beautiful big man hook shot for easy buckets. He punishes teams if they go to the hack-a-Romanian strategy by drilling his free throw shots. He'll lay a defender out on a wide back screen. Heck, he probably gives the best high fives that immediately go into a low five.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that he's solid. Like in every single way. And sometimes solid is perfect.
But if there is one thing that stands above the rest is his shot blocking ability. He's now the leading blocker in Northwestern history and will surely put a big gap in whoever wants to challenge that record in the near future. What makes him so lethal is that he's decisive when guarding the rim and extremely strong when he goes vertical. You can tell he excels in lane slide drills as he moves his feet very gracefully going side to side.
Again, he's just too solid not to love him.
Over Vine/Insta/YouTube that supports your last statement:
Why the great people of the Big Ten should love him: Because who doesn't love a guy that called a no-hitter a "non-hitter"?:
— Alexandru Olah (@Alexandru_Olah) July 26, 2015
You're not just an American, Alex, you're the best American.
2015-16 Predictions: R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Find out what it means to me!
G Bronson Koenig, Wisconsin Badgers
Why he made the list: Part of the reason Koenig is here is because I'm so ecstatic that there is finally a new point guard for Bo Ryan other than eight year starter Traevon Jackson. It wasn't that there was anything terribly wrong with Jackson, it's just that I'm a true believer in my #BearClan brother. The Sultan of Swag. The Splendor of Spoils. The Wisconsin Vogue-star himself. It's his time to shine.
But we can save the actual hoopin' stuff for later because his social media game is sooooo strong. I mean it. He is the most underrated Tweeter/Instagrammer not only in college basketball but all of college sports. Just look at this man:
— Bronson Koenig (@BronsonK_24) August 21, 2015
Hate when ppl try to open the stall door when I'm poopin like daaang I know you see my feet smh
— Bronson Koenig (@BronsonK_24) August 11, 2015
He's pure gold with a ball in his hands. Platinum with a phone.
One Vine/Insta/Youtube that supports your last statement: He's fake besties with Aaron Rodgers... what more do you need to know?!
Why the great people of the Big Ten should love him: I think we just covered all of this.
2015-16 Predictions: A mortal lock for BTPowerhouse's Saucin' on Social Media award. Finalist for Best Barber/Player Combination. Will be very good shooter -- and yes, it's in that order.
F Jae'Sean Tate, Ohio State Buckeyes
Why he's on the list: Jae'Sean Tate is our country's answer to replenish-able energy. He's like a never ending Gamma Ray. The tenacity he brings to his game is unmatched in college hoops. He's a killer on the boards (both offensive and deffensive) and constantly needs to be checked. If you don't have a body on Tate, he's going to dunk on your face. If you don't find him crashing off the wing, he's going to snatch the board from your grasps. He's all systems go and doesn't take a play off and it's so damn fun to watch him play with such controllable abandon.
The Buckeyes fed off of Tate last season. He was the guy in the middle of the breakdowns, the center of attention in the locker rooms, the emotional leader on the court. He's the honest to goodness spark for the Buckeyes fire. It's impossible to watch him and not feed off of his intensity.
He's also got some crazy bunnies -- opposing defenders take notice.
One Vine/Insta/YouTube that supports your last statement:
Look how hard he just dunked that ball. It's like the hoop disrespected his entire family and he had no other choice but to destroy him.
Why the great people of the Big Ten should love him: I answer this question, with a guestion... what's not to love about this?
2015-16 Prediction: He rips a hoop down. Like he will completely obliterate it, where he will dance at half court for the duration of the 37-minute game stoppage without pause. The Dougie. The Whip. The Nae Nae. The Macarena. The Grocery Cart. The Stanky Leg. Everything is on the table.
G James Blackmon Jr, Indiana Hoosiers
Why he's on the list: It's well documented by now, but worth mentioning again. Mr. James Blackmon Sr. didn't allow his son to shoot from long range until he was strong enough to and I can't thank him enough for that because James Blackmon Jr. has one of the prettiest, wettest, filthiest, smoothest, creamiest, glossiest jumpers in college basketball. The load, the shot, the follow through, it's all perfect.
He's basically a Splash Brother but in candy stripes.
This dude is an offensive explosion. He can score in every way you'd want him to and then some. If he decided to play with rec specs with taped "three goggles" around the lenses because he was to tired of throwing them up all the time, it would be totally acceptable.
One Vine/Insta/YouTube that supports your last statement: Sooooo wet.
Why the great people of the Big Ten should love him: He's not just a shooter...
2015-16 Prediction: He fills it up for Indiana forcing the school to change their name to Golden State Warriors University for the remainder of the season.
**Love the Big Ten freshman? Stay tuned for our Creating the Hype All-Big Ten team**