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'BTPowerhouse 25': Just Missed The Cut

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BTPowerhouse's staff counts down the best players in the Big Ten heading into the 2016-’17 season.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Minnesota Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

In the months leading up to the 2016-’17 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a new series called the 'BTPowerhouse 25,' which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.

Today's edition will take a brief look at the six players that just missed the cut for the Top 25 players list. These players come from a variety of teams and are expected to make major contributions this season.

'BTP 25' Just Missed List:

-- Shep Garner (Penn State)

  • Eligibility: Junior
  • Career Totals: 66 games, 2,106 minutes, 787 points, 195 rebounds, 186 assists
  • 2015-’16 Averages: 35.2 min, 14.8 pts, 3.0 rebs, 2.8 asts, 0.1 blks, 1.1 stls
  • Positional Role: Point Guard

Although Garner is often overlooked by many in the national media because he’s played for underwhelming Penn State teams, he’s been one of the more productive players in the conference over the last two years. Notably, he’s had an offensive rating over 100 in each of the last two seasons.

Over the course of last season, Garner took a significant step forward, despite playing far more minutes and taking a larger role in the offense. If he can continue this progress, he could land a firm spot in the top 25 next year.

-- Robert Johnson (Indiana)

  • Eligibility: Junior
  • Career Totals: 64 games, 1,664 minutes, 544 points, 199 rebounds, 173 assists
  • 2015-’16 Averages: 24.9 min, 8.1 pts, 3.3 rebs, 3.1 asts, 0.2 blks, 0.6 stls
  • Positional Role: Shooting Guard

When you play in a backcourt featuring James Blackmon, Yogi Ferrell, Juwan Morgan, and Nick Zeisloft, it’s pretty easy to get forgotten. Nonetheless, whether Johnson was properly appreciated or not, he’s been remarkably productive for the team over the last two seasons and a major reason Indiana’s made two straight NCAA Tournament appearances.

As a player, Johnson hasn’t been perfect, but he’s efficient (115.7 offensive rating), is one of the best passers on the roster (20.5 assist rate), and has shot well from long range (44.7 percent). He’ll have to take more possessions and do more inside to improve his game, but heading into this season, he figures to be a key component in a talent Indiana backcourt.

-- Nate Mason (Minnesota)

  • Eligibility: Junior
  • Career Totals: 60 games, 1,750 minutes, 373 points, 171 rebounds, 213 assists
  • 2015-’16 Averages: 32.9 min, 13.8 pts, 2.9 rebs, 4.5 asts, 0.1 blks, 1.4 stls
  • Positional Role: Point Guard

As anybody who watched last year’s Minnesota team is well aware, the 2015-’16 season wasn’t kind to the Gophers. However, even with Minnesota’s significant struggles, one player who was productive was Nate Mason. In total, he led the team in minutes, scoring, and assists, despite missing four games.

The good news for Mason is that with a major infusion of talent coming on the wing and upfront, his work should get quite a bit easier. In particular, given his 32.1 assist rate last season (No. 4 in the Big Ten) with an up and down surrounding cast, the sky could be the limit for the junior guard this year.

-- Jordan Murphy (Minnesota)

  • Eligibility: Sophomore
  • Career Totals: 31 games, 822 minutes, 361 points, 247 rebounds, 22 assists
  • 2015-’16 Averages: 25.6 min, 11.6 pts, 8.0 rebs, 0.7 asts, 1.0 blks, 1.0 stls
  • Positional Role: Power Forward

As mentioned above, last year wasn’t great for the Gophers. However, one of the more exciting storylines was the development of Murphy. Despite starting the year as an under the radar freshman, he ended the year on a high note and actually made the All-Big Ten Freshman team.

Murphy’s advanced numbers (98.3 offensive rating) were far from elite, but he was great on the boards (22.8 defensive rebounding rate) and found ways to score on a Minnesota team that was a train wreck offensively. Like Mason, he stands to benefit exponentially from the better surrounding cast he should have this year.

-- Tai Webster (Nebraska)

  • Eligibility: Senior
  • Career Totals: 66 games, 2,106 minutes, 787 points, 195 rebounds, 186 assists
  • 2015-’16 Averages: 35.2 min, 14.8 pts, 3.0 rebs, 2.8 asts, 0.1 blks, 1.1 stls
  • Positional Role: Shooting Guard

Although most eyes were focused on Shavon Shields and Andrew White during Nebraska’s games last year, one player who was quietly pretty productive was Tai Webster. Overall, he finished second on the team in minutes and was a consistent presence in the backcourt for the Huskers.

Admittedly, Webster probably doesn’t flash that “star” potential, but if he can stay efficient (101.8 offensive rating last year), make an impact on the boards (16.4 conference defensive rebounding rate), and stay solid on the defensive side (2.9 steal rate), he should stay a solid contributor. The question will be whether there are enough playmakers around him to keep pressure off him this season.

'BTPowerhouse 25' Rankings To Date:

  • #26-31 - Players That Just Missed The Cut
  • #25 ... to be continued.