With all of the talk regarding star centers and forwards in the Big Ten Conference, it can be easy to forget about the importance of the point guard. Sure it will be fun to watch players like A.J. Hammons, Nigel Hayes, and Thomas Bryant, but the guy at the top of the key will be pivotal to success throughout the season. Here's a look at some of the best point guards we'll see next year.
Yogi Ferrell may be the best returning guard in the Big Ten. Combining quickness with excellent shooting ability, the Indiana point guard has the possibility to take his team deep into the NCAA Tournament. After averaging 16.3 points per game, and shooting the ball at 41% from behind the arc, he's proven to be a prolific scorer with the ability to knock down shots from all over the floor. If you think you can just double Yogi Ferrell and shut him down, you probably need to think again. Yogi is a terrific passer, having finished fourth in the Big Ten with 4.9 assists per game, and has a series of weapons to pass the ball to, including rising superstar James Blackmon Jr. Ferrell, along with the Indiana Hoosiers, may be difficult to stop.
It's difficult to put a cap on just how successful Maryland could be next season; thanks to the additions of Diamond Stone and Rasheed Sulaimon, Maryland may be the pre-season favorite to go all the way. But a lot of this speculation requires a very productive season from returning point guard Melo Trimble. Trimble's numbers his freshman season compare very closely to those of Yogi Ferrell last season. With 16.2 points per game and 41% efficiency from three-point land, there's no denying that Trimble had a great year. What makes Trimble such a dynamic player is that he plays with the intelligence of a senior as an underclassmen. His ability to draw contact and get fouled helps him get to the free throw line frequently where he makes 86% of his attempts. Trimble needs to be an effective distibutor as well, as there will be plenty of help all over the floor. Though he'll have a lot on his plate, watch out for the young point guard who will see the big stage next season with the Terps.
After Traevon Jackson's injury sidelined him, Bronson Koenig was the next man up for the Wisconsin Badgers. In the 12 games that Koenig started at point guard, he averaged 11.3 points per game and shot the ball at 43% behind the three point line. With a career 2.82 assist to turnover ratio, Koenig is very efficient with the ball in his hands, and this gives him an excellent opportunity to lead the Badgers in what may be a "rebuilding year." Without Jackson in the lineup, Bronson Koenig will be the crucial starter for the Badgers. Koenig plays with a lot of passion and energy and always seems to make the right decisions on the floor. Look for him to give it his all next season, especially during Bo Ryan's last year as head coach.
Northwestern point guard Bryant McIntosh shocked the Big Ten last season after having a magnificent freshman year. His 11.4 points per game and 36% shooting from behind the three point line were very impressive for a freshman, but his 4.7 assists per game were even more impressive. McIntosh will only be a sophomore, but it seems Chris Collins has already found a solid player to build his program around. McIntosh can shoot, distribute, and play at the high-level that the Big Ten necessitates. Northwestern seems to be a program that's trying to make strides, and it's only a matter of time before they break out and make it into the NCAA Tournament. If Chirs Collins and the Northwestern Wildcats want to see the Big Dance, McIntosh will be a huge key.