If you’re as big of a basketball fan as me, sometimes you like to mix your Big Ten viewership with a little bit of NBA action. From NBA veterans to rookies, it’s always fun to see former Big Ten players succeed at the next level. For this week’s roundup let’s take a look at some Big Ten NBA prospects featured on DraftExpress. This week’s post features Caleb Swanigan and Thomas Bryant.
--Caleb Swanigan (Purdue):
Well it looks like Caleb Swanigan made the correct decision on pulling his name out of last year’s draft and coming back for his sophomore year. Swanigan is the clear favorite for Big Ten Player of the Year and is also a strong candidate for the Naismith Player of the Year Award. With his stellar individual growth, the sophomore has helped lead Purdue to a 21-5 record (10-3 Big Ten).
Swanigan has been incredibly consistent. With another double-double against Rutgers on Tuesday, Swanigan has now had a double-double in every Big Ten game except one. He leads the nation in rebounding, and his 22 double-doubles in 26 games is a Purdue school record. Via ESPN: the last Big Ten player to record 22 doubles-doubles in a season was Draymond Green in 2011-12.
Similarly to Green, Swanigan is putting up monster numbers, averaging 18.7 points and 13.0 rebounds this season. He’s shooting 54% from the field and 47% from three. His improved play and efficient shooting has gradually moved him up the DraftExpress big board.
Swanigan started the season off the big board, and then moved into the second round last month, and now he has moved into the first round. He is currently ranked as the 26th best prospect on DraftExpress’ big board. I wouldn’t be surprised if he continues to move up; especially if he takes Purdue deep into the tournament.
--Thomas Bryant (Indiana):
Thomas Bryant is a unique player for his size, he plays with so much energy and effort that it makes up for his lack of skill in the post. The majority of Bryant’s production comes from rim runs and dominating the offensive glass. Bryant is not the quickest and isn’t a great jumper, but he has the size and length to finish effectively around the basket.
He is not the most free-flowing athlete either, but he does find ways to produce in pick and rolls situations. In his sophomore season, Bryant has continued to put up steady numbers for Indiana. He’s averaging 13.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game on 55% shooting from the field. Where Bryant has improved from last year, is his ability to knock down the three ball.
Currently on the season Bryant is shooting 41% from three, progressing from last season’s 33%. At the moment DraftExpress ranks Bryant as the 32nd best prospect for this year’s NBA Draft. If Bryant leads Indiana to the NCAA Tournament it will only help his draft stock. Especially because the Hooisers are very dependent on his production with the O.G. Anunoby injury and disappointing play from their guards.
Check in next week for more Big Ten updates from the professional leagues.