In the months leading up to the 2021-’22 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a 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 EJ Liddell of the Ohio State Buckeyes, who came in at No. 4 in the rankings. The Buckeyes are hoping to build off last year’s 21-10 campaign with another run at the Big Ten title this year.
'BTPowerhouse 25' - No. 4 EJ Liddell:
- Eligibility: Junior
- Career Totals: 60 games, 1,368 minutes, 677 points, 310 rebounds, 66 assists, 32 steals
- 2020-’21 Averages: 29.4 MPG, 16.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.7 SPG
- Positional Role: Power Forward
While Ohio State had a rough finish to the 2020-’21 season, the Buckeyes still had a solid year, posting an impressive 21-10 record and earning a two seed in the Big Dance. Much of that success was due to the team’s explosive offense, led by Duane Washington and EJ Liddell. And with Washington now gone, fans will hope Liddell can be the team’s leader.
Liddell has one of the most unique skillsets in the Big Ten. He’s a stretch four that can play inside and out. He finished last season among the top 10 in the Big Ten in defensive rebounding rate and 16th in three-point percentage. That’s an incredible combo and something that makes him an incredibly difficult matchup for opponents. Few players can combine those categories at that level.
Additionally, Liddell does many of the little things you like to see. He avoids turnovers, finishes at the free throw line, and can defend when needed. He also finish with one of the best block rates in the Big Ten last season, further illustrating the diversity of his game.
-Areas for Improvement
There really aren’t many holes in Liddell’s game. That might sound simplistic, but there’s a reason Liddell enters this season among many All-Big Ten lists. He’s one of the best players in the league and nation. Any criticism is simply nitpicking.
With that said, if Liddell is to improve, it’s really just two areas: passing and playing time. Liddell had a relatively underwhelming assist rate last season and only played 67.7 percent of Ohio State’s minutes last season. If Liddell is hoping to contend for Big Ten Player of the Year, he’s probably going to need to improve in those areas, or at least modestly.
Ohio State enters this season with high hopes. Most experts believe the Buckeyes should be an easy pick for the NCAA Tournament and have an outside shot at the Big Ten title. And a big part of that effort will come from Liddell, who should be one of the team’s key offensive options yet again. He and Kyle Young should led the way.
Expect Liddell to be one of the Big Ten’s best players this season and a matchup nightmare for most opponents. If all goes well, he should be in contention for Player of the Year.
'BTPowerhouse 25' Rankings:
- #26-27 - Players That Just Missed The Cut
- #25 - Moussa Diabate (Michigan)
- #24 - Donta Scott (Maryland)
- #22 - Justice Sueing (Ohio State)
- #22 - Max Christie (Michigan State)
- #20 - Miller Kopp (Indiana)
- #20 - Connor McCaffery (Iowa)
- #19 - Zach Edey (Purdue)
- #18 - Tyson Walker (Michigan State)
- #17 - Eli Brooks (Michigan)
- #16 - Keegan Murray (Iowa)
- #14 - Kyle Young (Ohio State)
- #14 - Andre Curbelo (Illinois)
- #12 - Caleb Houstan (Michigan)
- #12 - Trent Frazier (Illinois)
- #11 - Ron Harper (Rutgers)
- #10 - DeVante’ Jones (Michigan)
- #9 - Eric Ayala (Maryland)
- #8 - Geo Baker (Rutgers)
- #7 - Jordan Bohannon (Iowa)
- #6 - Trevion Williams (Purdue)
- #5 - Jaden Ivey (Purdue)
- #4 - EJ Liddell (Ohio State)
- #3 - To Be Continued ...