The Big Ten’s solid crop of power forwards in 2016 is being backed up quite nicely by yet another solid haul in the class of 2017.
That haul is highlighted by two very highly anticipated Five-stars, and a solid list of other well regarded prospects. Of course, this list could grow with targets like five-star Brandon McCoy from California who is still considering Michigan State and five-star Mohamed Bamba from New York, who recently listed Michigan amongst the finalists for his services.
Let’s take a look at the league’s next stars at the 4.
In case you missed it, here’s last week’s preview of the Big Ten’s centers in the class of 2017.
Big Ten’s Top 2017 Power Forwards:
-Jaren Jackson (Michigan State)
The McDonald’s All-American was the latest top-rated big man to pledge to Izzo and the Spartans when he committed to the program in the fall. The five-star from Indiana narrowed his options down to Purdue, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Maryland and Michigan State before ultimately becoming Sparty’s first 2017 commitment on his 17th birthday.
According to ESPN’s Paul Biancardi, Jackson has some pretty solid basketball roots:
Both of Jackson's parents have a strong basketball background. Jaren Sr. starred at Georgetown (1985-1989) and played on multiple NBA teams, including the San Antonio Spurs, where he won an NBA title in 1999. His mother, Terri, also is a Georgetown grad and is the director of operations for the Women's National Basketball Players Association.
At 6’10, 220, Jackson is has prototypical power forward size, but according to 247sport’s Jerry Meyer ($), he has the potential to be much more than just that. Meyer thinks Jackson has greatly improved over the past year. He has become a much more skilled big man, and has also gained much more confidence in his abilities. As an athletic 6’10 power forward who has the ability to shoot from outside, he has the potential to play the stretch-four spot in East Lansing.
Scout’s Brian Snow ($) seems to agree with that sentiment:
At 6-foot-10 with a major plus wingspan, Jackson gives the Spartans someone with the length and size to play on the interior and the skill to play on the perimeter.
But to go along with his ability to shoot from outside, he’s also working on developing the tools you’d hope to see from someone playing the 4:
"Still in the process of gaining strength, Jackson isn't always comfortable in traffic," Meyer added. "He does, however, have a steady jump hook and is in the process of becoming a tougher player in the trenches. Jackson is loaded with upside and appears to be a late bloomer as the son of a standout player."
With Miles Bridges looking like a candidate to head to the NBA draft, Jackson could be the perfect replacement for him in East Lansing next season.
-Jeremiah Tilmon (Illinois)
According to 247Sports, the five-star from East St. Louis is the highest rated recruit that the Illini have ever landed. As the eight-ranked power forward in the class of 2017, Tilmon has given John Groce’s staff and Illini fans everywhere plenty to be excited about.
According to MaxPreps, Tilmon has recorded some solid stats this senior season. He’s averaged 16.2 points, 11.4 boards and 4 blocks per game to this point. The consensus on Tilmon’s however, appears to be that he is still a raw talent, who has unlimited potential should he take full advantage of his physical tools.
According to Scout:
Tilmon is a good area rebounder and solid shot blocker. On the offensive end, Tilmon has good hands and touch around the basket. The form on his mid-range jumpers look good. The next step is developing consistency and a go-to move on offensive, as well as consistently playing hard.
And this according to DraftExpress:
Simply put, he's a work in progress on both ends of the floor but can block shots, cover ground on defense, offensive rebound, and catch and finish. Tilmon isn't quite as bouncy or physically impressive as some of the other top bigs in his class, but he has a solid combination of tools and skills, and is without a doubt worth tracking moving forward.
Despite that, though, just by looking at his tape, you can see his incredible upside. Him, along with the rest of Illinois’ top fifteen class will do their best to get the program back to prominence once they get to campus.
-Nathan Reuvers (Wisconsin)
The high four-star from Minnesota committed to the Badgers over a host of other offers in May, and has since signed with the program.
He comes in as the top-rated of three prospects in Wisconsin’s top-twenty class. He is also the fourteenth ranked 4-man according to 247Sport’s composite rankings.
According to 247Sport’s Evan Flood ($), one of Reuvers’ biggest strengths is high versatility. Flood says that along with his ability to play in the post, he can also step outside and shoot the three. He runs the floor well, and is more than capable of being a great pick n’ pop player, as many recent Wisconsin bigs have been.
As with Jaren Jackson, Big Ten fans can look forward to Reuvers’ ability to step out and shoot the three, according to Scout’s Scott Phillips ($):
A unique player because of his shooting touch from the perimeter, Reuvers can give a team a stretch option at the four with his ability to stretch the floor.
"I developed my game on the outside first and now I'm really trying to go inside, as I am 6-9, so that's something I have to do," Reuvers said.
-Xavier Tillman (Michigan State)
The top-rated recruit in the state of Michigan for the 2017 cycle is four-star power forward Xavier Tillman out of Grand Rapids Christian high school, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The 6’8 Tillman is regarded as the 19th best prospect at his position, according to the industry-generated 247Sports Composite rankings. After missing out on the state’s top prospect for 2016 in Josh Jackson, Izzo and the Spartans were able to fend off several other schools to reel in the state’s best in 2017.
According to Scout’s Brian Snow, Tillman’s strength appears to be his, well, strength!:
At 6-foot-7 Tillman is an old school power forward who is a bit of a new age center. He is slightly undersized, but there is no doubting Tillman's production. The hard playing and high motor Tillman averaged 11.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in the EYBL this summer running with Spiece Indy Heat.
Tillman is a tough kid who thrives on being physical on the low block. He will need to continue to get into better shape, but he has the toughness and heart that Izzo loves in a prospect.
This jives with Tillman’s description of his own game, via 247’s Sean Scherer:
The 6-foot-8, 270-pound Tillman describes his game as: "I'm a big who can rebound really well and can push it up off the rebound. I'm almost a pass-first big in transition and give it up to the open player no matter what. I don't hesitate. Down low, I'm a horse down low. I'm a big fella who can have a nice touch and nice footwork."
With Tillman, Sparty will have yet another highly talented option to their roster in 2017.
-Isaiah Livers (Michigan)
After landing two centers in the class of 2016, and with Moritz Wagner likely staying at least another year at Michigan (if not two), it seems clear that Beilein’s priority in recruiting is to add some size to his roster.
However, Beilein himself has hailed Livers for his versatility, as well:
In-state forward Livers plays basketball at Kalamazoo Central and averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks en route to earning All-State honors from the Detroit Free Press. Livers' versatility is something that stuck out to Beilein in his statement.
"Isaiah has a versatility to his game, which we feel will only help us," said Beilein. "He can shoot from the perimeter, is very skilled and is improving his rebounding and passing skills. He is agile enough to be a combo forward who can guard or score in the post and on the perimeter. He comes from a great family, and we love his outstanding attitude, passion for the game and love for the University of Michigan." -Via Scout’s Josh Henschke
Michigan fans are hoping that this class of 2017 breathes some new life into their program, as a changing of the guards is expected at a few positions in Ann Arbor next season.
-Clifton Moore (Indiana)
Moore is a 6’10, three-star power forward prospect from Horsham, PA. He may not be as well known as some of the other prospects mentioned in this article, but he is certainly one that is expected to turn some heads.
When you hear what Moore’s AAU coach, Jonathan Michels, has to say about his star, you’ll get a better idea of why he’s one to watch in the Big Ten:
"He's a 6-10, almost 6-11, jump-shooting, ball-handling wing," Michels said. "He's really, really long, he's a 35 percent-plus 3-point shooter, he bounces it like he's a 6-foot-5, 6-foot-4, wing, and he's usually the smartest guy in the room, which never hurts him either." -Via 247’s Alex McCarthy
Moore looks and sounds like he’s your prototypical candidate to assume a stretch-four type role, and you can bet Tom Crean will explore all of those options once he gets him on campus.
-Jack Nunge (Iowa)
Last on our list of power forwards committed to Big Ten Schools is Iowa commit Jack Nunge, who is a three-star prospect out of Indiana.
He joins four-star center Luka Garza to form a solid forecourt pairing in Iowa’s class of 2017. As was the case with Garza, Nunge has made some recent strides, and has improved his overall game in the months leading up to this enrolment in Iowa City.
According to Brian Snow ($), Nunge had issues rebounding despite being almost 6’10. At a recent AAU tournament that Snow scouted, however, Nunge had recorded 13 boards, which Snow attributed to his added strength, and a new found confidence in himself to attack the glass.
What might have played into it is that Nunge looked noticeably stronger. While he still has plenty of room to fill out, and there is no doubt that McCaffery and his staff want him to continue to add weight, the improvements he has made are noticeable, and that seemed to give him more confidence on the glass.
This, according to N.D Kendrick, the director of Nunge’s AAU team, might explain why so many are excited about what he brings to the table, via Cody Goodwin:
“Specifically, with coach McCaffery’s system, the way that he plays will be very similar to Jarrod Uthoff and Aaron White, but with just maybe a couple more inches in size,” Kendrick said. “I think he’s going to adjust well. Like all big guys who are fairly thin, he’s going to have to get a little bit stronger, but there’s a great track record there with McCaffery’s staff that that is going to get done.
247Sports made Nunge as a four-star in their rankings, and are the only ones in the industry to have done so. His versatility might just be the reason why, and Iowa fans should be excited to see what he’ll bring to the table.