In the months leading up to the 2017-’18 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.
The phenomenal Rutgers point guard Corey Sanders makes his way to number 13 in our rankings. Heading into his junior campaign, Sanders and a veteran Scarlet Knights team looks to improve upon a surprising 2016-’17 season.
‘BTPowerhouse 25’ - #13 Corey Sanders:
- Eligibility: Junior
- Career Totals: 60 games, 1908 minutes, 853 points, 222 assists, 195 rebounds, 92 steals
- 2016-’17 Averages: 33 games, 12.8 points, 3.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals
- Positional Role: Point Guard
Sanders and Rutgers turned in their best season since moving to the Big Ten last year. Their 15 win regular season doubled their previous seasons win-loss record. The Scarlet Knights also improved in the conference, going from one Big Ten win in 2015-’16 to three wins last year.
Sanders teased moving onto the NBA in both of his seasons at Rutgers. Obviously, he has returned both times. Clearly, he was taking advantage of the ability to declare, gain feedback from professional teams, and then decide on whether to ultimately enter the draft or return to school. One has to assume that an improving Scarlet Knights program played a factor in his decision to return again this season.
Sanders is at his best when he is in isolation with his defender or as the ballhandler coming off screens. His excellent dribbling ability gives him the opportunity to consistently break down his man off the dribble.
Although his efficiency as a shooter is somewhat inconclusive, he excels at finishing at the basket with contact sometimes encouraged. In that regard, he may remind fans of Derrick Rose when he was at Memphis. However, Sanders does have the ability to stop on a dime and put up a jumper. Either way, his primary strength is wearing his defender down with the dribble and then attacking the rim.
In the same vein, Sanders can appropriately dissect what to do on the pick and roll. Most of the time, if it is a good screen, Sanders can go at the basket, which he loves to do. On the other hand, he can also assess a hard or soft hedge and make a pocket pass to a rolling or flaring screener. For a point guard that has NBA hopes, that is a vital asset to have.
Areas for Improvement
As noted above briefly, the jury is still out on Sanders’ efficiency as a shooter. He holds the talent of hitting a step-back or pull-up jumper, but the percentages say he is an average to below average jump shooter. His three-point percentage last year was a paltry 26 percent, and that percentage for his Rutgers career is under 30 percent too.
The percentages from two-point range are higher, mainly due to the volume of shots he takes near the basket. Besides that, in 2016-’17 Sanders shot only 38 percent from the field. That percentage put him 67th in the conference for all-around field goal percentage. Sanders can certainly make shots, but not at a terribly efficient clip given the percentages.
Corey Sanders turned in a season in 2016-’17 that saw him voted as an Honorable Mention for the All-Big Ten team. It would not be a surprise to see Sanders on the Second or Third All-Big Ten team by the end of this season.
In a Rutgers offense that has chemistry and cohesiveness, Sanders will shine for the Scarlet Knights. NBA prospects aside, Corey Sanders has a chance to become one of, if not the best player in Rutgers basketball history.
‘BT Powerhouse 25’ Rankings:
- #26-31 - Players That Just Missed The Cut
- #24 - Juwan Morgan (Indiana Hoosiers)
- #24 - Dakota Mathias (Purdue Boilermakers)
- #23 - Jordan Bohannon (Iowa Hawkeyes)
- #22 - Anthony Cowan (Maryland Terrapins)
- #21 - Reggie Lynch (Minnesota Golden Gophers)
- #20 - Kevin Huerter (Maryland Terrapins)
- #19 - Carsen Edwards (Purdue Boilermakers)
- #18 - Robert Johnson (Indiana Hoosiers)
- #17 - Isaac Haas (Purdue Boilermakers)
- #16 - Tyler Cook (Iowa Hawkeyes)
- #15 - Justin Jackson (Maryland Terrapins)
- #14 - Jaren Jackson (Michigan State Spartans)
- #13 - Corey Sanders (Rutgers Scarlet Knights)
- #12 - to be continued...