Big Ten’s Top 25 Players: 20-16

With the official start of practice less than nine weeks away, Inside the Hall and UM Hoops have partnered to bring you a preseason breakdown of the top 25 players in the Big Ten for the 2012-2013 season.

Our selection process was hardly scientific, but it did involve much deliberation and compromise to arrive at a list that we hope will provide plenty of reaction and debate.

The series is broken down into five parts (part one) and our second installment of players 20-16 is available below:

20. Rodney Williams, Minnesota (6-foot-7, forward, senior)
31.9 mpg, 12.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 59.0 eFG%

Expectations in Minneapolis this winter will be for the Gophers to return to the NCAA Tournament and Williams is a large part of the equation for Tubby Smith. After struggling with consistency his first two seasons, the ultra athletic forward finally put things together down the stretch in March and led Minnesota all the way to the finals of the NIT. Williams scored in double figures over the season’s final nine games and cracked the 20-point barrier four times. And that was with defenses keying on him as the primary option. The return of Trevor Mbakwe should take some of the pressure off Williams to be “the guy” and allow him to continuing thriving as one of the Big Ten’s best finishers around the basket. But it also raises this question: where will Williams play with Mbakwe back in the fold?

19. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin (6-foot-8, forward, freshman)
ESPN: 5-star, 17; Scout: 5-star, 15; Rivals: 5-star, 13

Arguably the most notable snub for the McDonald’s All-American game last spring, Dekker arrives in Madison as the highest rated recruit of the Bo Ryan era. In fact, the addition of Dekker is substantial enough that some feel the Badgers will once again compete for a Big Ten championship despite the loss of Jordan Taylor. In high school, Dekker led Sheboygan Lutheran to a Wisconsin Division 5 championship by scoring 40 points, including a game-winning 3-pointer with four seconds remaining. At 6-foot-8 with elite athleticism and the ability to score inside or from the perimeter, Dekker will instantly give the Badgers a presence on the wing that should mix nicely with veterans Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren in the front court.

18. Yogi Ferrell, Indiana (6-foot, guard, freshman)
ESPN: 4-star, 24; Scout: 4-star, 30; Rivals: 5-star, 19

The prized piece of Indiana’s 2012 recruiting class, Ferrell brings speed and athleticism to the back court in Bloomington that’s been lacking for several years. A two-time state champion at Park Tudor in Indianapolis and AAU teammate of Cody Zeller, the Indiana freshman guard has the ability to thrive as either a score-first guard or as a facilitator for teammates. Given the talent returning for Crean, Ferrell will likely take on the role of facilitator which should free up Jordan Hulls, the Big Ten’s best shooter, to find even more openings on the perimeter. Perhaps the biggest question mark for Ferrell is how he’ll adjust to playing man-to-man defense after playing almost exclusively zone in high school and how he’ll handle defending taller Big Ten guard. Overall, his addition coupled with the returning cast will make Indiana the consensus favorite to win the Big Ten.

17. Aaron White, Iowa (6-foot-8, forward, sophomore)
23.8 mpg, 11.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 53.5 eFG%

While Indiana’s Cody Zeller and Michigan’s Trey Burke grabbed the majority of the headlines as the league’s best freshmen a season ago, White quietly put together a campaign that proved him worthy of inclusion on this list. He finished his first year in Iowa City with the fourth most rebounds and the fifth most points ever by a freshman in the program. White also ranked in the top ten in the Big Ten in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage and fouls drawn per 40 minutes. In Iowa’s final two games, he scored a combined 47 points and grabbed 19 rebounds. With a more established role in the starting lineup (he started just 14 games) and more minutes, White should once again be one of the league’s most efficient and effective front court players.

16. Adreian Payne, Michigan State (6-foot-10, center, junior)
17.9 mpg, 7.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 56.9 eFG%

After a disappointing freshman season where he was held back by a shoulder injury, Payne began to right the ship and show flashes of what made him a consensus top 20 player coming out of high school. Thanks to his length and ability to get off the floor quickly, his block percentage (6.9) was the best in the Big Ten, but he was overaggressive at times which led him to frequent foul trouble (5.1 fouls called per 40 minutes) and being platooned with Derrick Nix. Given his progression from a freshman to a sophomore, it’s not unreasonable to assume that a more experienced Payne will continue to emerge as a dominant post defender. The next step for Payne is to diversify his offensive repertoire and Michigan State Tom Izzo recently said in an interview he’s doing just that.

This edition of  the Big Ten’s top 25 players was written by Alex Bozich of Inside the Hall.

  • Brenner

    Great series of articles. Keep em coming.

  • Brenner

    Great series of articles. Keep em coming.

  • kpowers

    Good stuff guys…

  • Oldguyy

    Maybe I should be, but I’m not worried about Ferrell’s defense. And how many Big Ten point guards are more than two inches taller than he? Too lazy to check, but it must be very few.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002953805170 Clayton Sinn

    Don’t be worried, his speed quickness and athleticism will be shaped into an elite defender by big ten play by ctc and staff.

  • http://www.insidethehall.com/ Alex Bozich

    Not sure I’d classify it as something to worry about. Was just something that came to mind when examining a question mark coming into the season.

  • gerald

    Adreian Payne would still be having nightmares if VO was able to finish that dunk in the MSU game

  • gerald

    Adreian Payne would still be having nightmares if VO was able to finish that dunk in the MSU game

  • DarkSouth

    Not just size but strength as well. Physically, I think Yogi’s in good shape as I can’t think of any PGs who really get in the lane and post. Jordan Taylor may have given him fits but with him gone I don’t see any real bruisers.

    I think Alex’s point, not to put words in his mouth, is that Yogi may have to re-adjust to the principals of team man-to-man. Having played in both zone schemes and man-to-man schemes, the rotations are different and concepts can be slighly different. I think Park Tudor played primarily 2-3, I bet the guards were primarily focused on the passing lanes as the weak side wing should be helping over to protect the basket, for example. It could lead to a few “mental mistakes” just out of habit early in the season.

  • Miamihoosier

    Minnesota has absolutely no guard play. They will win games this year, but there is no reason they should finish in the top half of the league. I think Tubby would trade back courts with Penn St and Northwestern….not a good sign. Same situation at Wisconsin. Evans, Dekker, and Berggren, will be a great front court, but Brust and Gasser in the back court? Not exactly intimidating. Wisconsin only went 12-6 last year in league play, I’d say no Taylor costs them at least one game if not more, maybe 10-8? Minny 9-9. I know someone will reply something about Bo Ryan being so amazing of a coach that they will still finish top 4……..but at some point, if you don’t have the horses, you just don’t have them. Look at coach Knight from 95-2000……we went from having Brian Evans as the team’s only offensive threat, to AJ Guyton, and we limped to 20 wins a year…..father time is catching up to Bo Ryan and his “system”. They can slow the game up all they want, but without the talent he’s been used to over the years in the back court (Ryan went from Devin Harris, to Kamron Taylor, to Jordan Taylor), they will lose games 55 to 35.

  • http://twitter.com/IUMitchell Deon M

    Top 25, Best Freshman, Impact Player, yahhhad yahhad ya. Waiting on the exhibition opponents.

  • russdaddy

    did those 2 frosh tansfer? they were really good last year.

  • russdaddy

    did those 2 frosh tansfer? they were really good last year.

  • INexpat2001

    Minny’s top 4 guards in minutes-played last year (Welch, the 2 Hollinses, and Coleman) are all back this year

  • ace132

    both hollins played pretty well at the end of last year man. add williams and a capable but more importanly leader in mbakwe. that team can play.

    Also how can u tell father time is catching up to ryan? Dekker is his best recruit ever, by the rankings of course. Taylor is a big loss but dekker will provide versatility. and a dynamic backcourt isnt what bo needs. its solid players who can shoot and provide matchup problems

  • IUeconAlum

    Adreian’s parents should learn how to properly spell his name.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Kind of where York would land. Different story by the end of the year. Big Ten has a great freshman class but my bet is on number 11 wearing the candy stripes as freshman of the year.

  • Miamihoosier

    The Hollins’ did show some late season improvement, I’m just saying when they are going up against the best back courts in the conference, duos like Appling and Harris, Burke and Hardaway, Ferrell and Hulls/Dipo/, or Craft and Smith Jr., they will be over matched. Remember, they went 6-12 in the league last year. I predicted they IMPROVE that by 3 games, and go .500. Out of curiosity, how many more games do you think they will improve? On Wisconsin, I believe it has been their amazing point guard play that has prevented teams from being able to speed them up. Your theory, that for their system to work, they just need shooters and match up problems, will really be tested this year……we will see who’s right. I’m really rooting against them though, bc I can’t think of a more boring style to watch!

  • Miamihoosier

    The Hollins’ did show some late season improvement, I’m just saying when they are going up against the best back courts in the conference, duos like Appling and Harris, Burke and Hardaway, Ferrell and Hulls/Dipo/, or Craft and Smith Jr., they will be over matched. Remember, they went 6-12 in the league last year. I predicted they IMPROVE that by 3 games, and go .500. Out of curiosity, how many more games do you think they will improve? On Wisconsin, I believe it has been their amazing point guard play that has prevented teams from being able to speed them up. Your theory, that for their system to work, they just need shooters and match up problems, will really be tested this year……we will see who’s right. I’m really rooting against them though, bc I can’t think of a more boring style to watch!

  • ace132

    Oh I agree, painful on the eyes. Jordan Taylor definitely controlled the tempo and was perfect for that offense. before that it was trevon hughes or even back to kamron taylor. none of them were dynamic but able to follow Bo’s system to a T. I believe brust/gosser can do the job. As far as matchup problems, they really have never been overly athletic, but a perfect example of team D. Knowing responsibilities and rotating. Definitely question marks with taylor gone but returning brust, gosser, evans, bruesewitz and burggren plus dekker. i have them 4th.

    I think mich state might struggle more with losing draymond and austin thorton. The only two guys who were consistent for izzo. Yes they are much more talented, but Bo knows what he has for a roster

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