Holy candidates, Batman! We haven't even seen these guys get turnt in conference play yet and they are already jockeying for the Big Ten Player of the Year award. Denzel Valentine against Kansas, Jarrod Uthoff's first half against Iowa State, Isaac Haas against New Mexico and Caris LeVert against Xavier are just a few of the performances that have widened the POY pool.
So with that in mind, throughout the season we are going to run through the week that was in Big Ten Player of the Year standings. Think of it as an exercise in keeping track of the weekly performances that we, as over consuming sports nuts, so often forget about when this award is really being discussed.
A simple way for fans of the Big Ten with a limited amount of time to stay in tune.
Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa
There is little question how good this week was for Uthoff as an individual. On Monday. he scored 27 points, grabbed nine rebounds, one assist and one block on 62.5% shooting (4-5 from three point land) and then against bitter instate rival, Iowa State, he tacked on 32 points, nine rebounds, one assist, four blocks and one steal on 60% shooting (5-8 from down town). There was one point in the game, after he scored his 30th point, where he tied the Cyclones total point output on his own. He is currently ranked fifth in the Big Ten in offensive rating (127.3) of all Big Ten players that are using 24% or more of the teams possessions -- right behind Denzel Valentine (127.4).
As it stands right now, he's first in the Big ten in points per game (19.6), eleventh in rebounds (6.7) and sixth in three point percentage (51%). He's been Iowa's go to player in every offensive instance and the development of his game has been extremely entertaining to watch -- the best of which is his Dirk-light fadeaway that he's using more and more to his advantage.
He's an unquestionable conference first teamer and that doesn't look to be changing anytime soon.
What makes Uthoff special is that he can bang in the post or bring you outside, either way, he'll demolish you (at least in the first half). He's been a matchup nightmare and is making a lot of folks over at CBS look silly for leaving him off their "Top Players" list. He's über crafty and gets in these grooves that resemble a cornfed Klay Thompson. He's going to be in conversations at the end of the year if he can help Iowa grab a Big Ten Tournament game or two and another ticket to the Big Dance. He'll get even more bonus points if he can develop a killer gene that the Hawkeyes so desperately need -- especially once conference play begins and a majority of the games come down to the last few minutes.
Andrew White, Nebraska
I know a lot of you probably have NOT sat down and watched an entire Nebraska game -- nor should you have outside of a few minutes of the Creighton game -- but as someone who actually pays for BTNPlus, this kid is worth the watch. The Kansas transfer has one of the prettiest jumpers in the conference (and probably the country), and is averaging 17.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 49.1% from the field and 41.9% from three.
The best part about White is that he's come on strong the last two or three games. He's averaging 36 minutes a game for Tim Miles since the Miami game. He scored 30 points, grabbed seven rebounds and finished with four steals against Abilene Christian. Then put together another scorcher against instate rival Creighton, finishing with 28 points, 10 rebounds and three steals.
Sure, Nebraska is not the best team out in the land right now -- KenPom has them ranked 113th in the nation and 11th in the Big Ten -- but if Andrew White continues to put up 20+ point games and ripping the ball away from his opponents at the pace he's currently on, he's going to turn some heads when the conference schedule starts.
It's no wonder why Nebrasketball needed White and why there was a lot of chatter about his presence. I'm not joking when I say that the ball looks like it's going to go in every time he flicks his wrist. White has an NBA ready body, standing at 6'7" and 220 pounds and is a load on both ends of the court. He's waited a long time for this opportunity and it's obvious why he was such a highly touted recruit out of Virginia. You can see an obvious care for the game and as he and Shavon Shields grow together, the Huskers are going to be a tough out for Big Ten opponents on a night in and night out basis.
Melo Trimble, Maryland
Ok the St. Francis game was bad and you surely weren't texting your friends about the Cleveland State game early on in the season, but look at what he did against UConn on Tuesday: 25 points, three rebounds, three assists, one steal and FIFTEEN TRIPS TO THE FREE THROW LINE (having made 14 of them). He followed that up on Saturday with an 18 point, one rebound, four assist game against Maryland Eastern Shore -- where he also nailed down all four of his triples, going 5-6 from the field on the night.
He's the best big game point guard in the game. Heck he probably is the BEST point guard in the game -- with Kris Dunn hanging around his porch trying to get in the house. Trimble is purely special. I mean just look at this man:
He might as well dabbed, fake ripped off his jersey like Cam Newton/Superman and walked into the tunnel to ice his knees. He was absolutely feeling it on Saturday and when he's playing like that, he's not only up for Big Ten Player of the Year nominations, but National Player of the Year ones too.
Enjoy him while you can.