Big Ten’s top 25 players: 25-21

  • 09/09/2014 12:52 pm in

With the official start of practice less than four weeks away, Inside the Hall and UMHoops have again partnered to bring you a preseason breakdown of the top 25 players in the Big Ten for the 2014-2015 season.

Our selection process involved much deliberation to arrive at a list we hope will provide plenty of reaction and debate. The series will be broken into five parts and our first installment of players 25-21 is available below:

25. Romelo Trimble, Maryland (6-foot-2, guard, freshman)
McDonald’s All-American

Dez Wells is the top returning player for Mark Turgeon and the Terps as the program enters the Big Ten, but an argument can be made that Trimble, a McDonald’s All-American who chose to stay close to home, is the team’s most important player. On a roster that was rocked by transfers in the offseason, Turgeon is planning to slot Trimble in as the team’s point guard after the departure of Seth Allen, who transferred to Virginia Tech. The Upper Marlboro native was a big-time scorer (23.1 ppg) in high school at Bishop O’Connell, but will need to be more of a distributor capable of running the offense as Maryland looks to bounce back from a disappointing 17-15 season.

24. Sam Thompson, Ohio State (6-foot-7, forward, senior)
24.7 mpg, 7.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg, .9 bpg, .8 apg, .7 spg, 50.9 eFG percentage

After spending his first three seasons in Columbus as a role player, Thompson should take over at the three for LaQuinton Ross, who made a questionable decision to enter the NBA draft. Thompson is the leading returning scorer for Ohio State and will need to prove he’s capable of more than just scoring off of dunks as the Buckeyes lost a ton of production with the departures of Ross, Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith. With increased minutes and slight improvement in areas like free throws and 3-point shooting, Thompson should be able to expand into a double-digit scorer to go along with his impact on the defensive end, the calling card for Ohio State under Thad Matta.

23. JerShon Cobb, Northwestern (6-foot-5, guard, redshirt senior)
33.6 mpg, 12.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.3 apg, .9 spg, 48.6 eFG percentage

Cobb missed the entire 2012-2013 season due to a suspension, but returned as a junior and quietly put together a solid season. The departure of Drew Crawford means that Cobb could emerge as the featured scorer for second-year coach Chris Collins. Northwestern had the Big Ten’s least efficient offense last season and the addition of a solid recruiting class should help Cobb and Tre Demps, another holdover from the Bill Carmody era. With his size and ability to handle the ball, Cobb is one of the more difficult backcourt matchups in the league, but needs to become more efficient to make a leap into the upper echelon of the Big Ten’s best. As a junior, he shot just 45.5 percent on 2s and 35.2 percent on 3s. Little is expected of the Wildcats, but if they are to surprise, Cobb will need to play a major role.

22. Shannon Scott, Ohio State (6-foot-1, guard, senior)
26.8 mpg, 7.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.4 apg, 2 spg, 49.1 eFG percentage

Scott is arguably the best perimeter defender in the Big Ten and would be higher on the list if he possessed a more well-rounded game. His steal percentage as a junior ranked ninth nationally at 4.9 percent and he was also a solid distributor with an assist rate of 25.5. Both figures were very similar to those of Craft, who Scott should take over for on a full-time basis. Pairing Scott with incoming freshman D’Angelo Russell in the backcourt should allow him to stick to mostly playing the role of distributor and defensive stopper, but his woeful 3-point shooting (26-of-86 for 30.2 percent) and high turnover rate (22.2) are two areas where he really needs work going into his final season.

21. James Blackmon Jr., Indiana (6-foot-4, guard, freshman)
McDonald’s All-American, Jordan Brand All-Star

The second freshman to appear on the list, Blackmon Jr. arrives in Bloomington as a player who is wired to score. He averaged a team-high 18.8 points on IU’s trip to Canada in August and Scout.com listed him as the top incoming shooter in the country. His addition should help the Hoosiers rebound from an average season of perimeter shooting and spread the floor for point guard Yogi Ferrell, who was the constant focus of opposing defenses last season. As is the case with many freshman, Blackmon Jr. will have to adjust to the rigors of the college game, but his body has undergone some transformation already since his arrival on campus in June as he’s closing in on 200 pounds. There’s little doubt that Blackmon Jr.’s shooting and ability to score should translate from day one, but ultimately how high he lands on this list at season’s end will be determined by how well he defends and how he makes his teammates better.

Filed to:

  • OhioHoosier

    If it wasn’t for his questionable defense, I believe Troy would be ahead of slam on this list.

  • CreamandCrimson

    For what it’s worth (absolutely nothing), I’d take Troy over Thompson every day of the week. Just as a side note, it’s possible he is ahead of Thompson…he could plausibly be placed in the 20-16 range.

  • Zach

    I also wonder if Troy’s going to make this list. He will definitely have the season to be on the list when all is said and done IMO!

  • hardly

    if JB is only 21, i don’t see TW making the list unfortunately. I doubt we have 3 of the top 21 players in the league. if so i would think we would be picked higher than 8-10th if that was the case. by the end of the season i think troy will be one of the best in the league

  • Hoosier Hall

    I would bet Troy is in the 15-11 range.

  • Crimson&CremeFraiche

    I agree. I’m predicting Troy as a lottery pick. Based on the highlights I saw from Canada and what I read, he has made the leap besides not seeing much three point shooting. But he already has NBA size and athleticism and potential through the roof. I could see him doing what Oladipo did but a year sooner.

  • Outoftheloop

    James #21; Troy #17; Yogi #7, that’s my guess.

  • Ole Man

    Troy needs an outside shot and much improved defense to become a lottery pick. Athletes are a dime-a-dozen in the draft. Just my HO.

  • Bryce Kepner

    Never thought id ever say it but Ole Man I agree with you 110%. Players like troy are a dime a dozen in the NBA and in Europe. He needs to improve his shot and defense drastically before he is a lottery pick.

  • ILive4IUBball

    I always enjoy looking at this list at the beginning of the season. Would be interesting to see y’all put this list out at the end of the season to compare. Just a suggestion.

  • Ole Man

    Thanks, Bryce. I appreciate that. Best off-handed compliment I’ve received. LOL. I figure if I keep talking, I’ll get something right sooner or later.

  • ForeverIU

    He was 50% from three in Canada, lol. One out of two attempts.

  • Guyton25

    It’s all about the D now.

  • marcusgresham

    Sam Thompson 21? Shouldn’t he be like 6-10 since he’s 2nd team all B1G? Ha!

  • CreanFaithful

    insert questionable joke…

  • b_side

    I think Alex and UMHoops are doing a collective chant of “overrated, clap clap, clap clap clap” regarding those publications’ predictions.

  • mark

    Don’t forget, we don’t have anything inside. I mean, practically anything. We have an underachieving, erratic 4 slated to start at the 5, and an undersized and offensively-limited 4 as his back up. That’s why we’re ranked 8-10. Perimeter-wise, we can match up with anybody.

  • HoosierGrampy

    Pre-season = agree. Post-Season = In the 11-15 group.

  • ForeverIU

    From what I understand (his tweets), he’s been working like heck on his outside shot. Troy will be a superstar.

  • David Macer

    This is not a knock on Troy, but I think he won’t be listed in the Top 25. We have 14 teams and each team will have at least one player of mention, except for maybe Rutgers. Even PUke may get more than one.

    This is an important year for Troy. If he picks up his D, then he leaves after his junior year just like Olidepo.

  • David Macer

    Guard play dominates the college game. We are going to sneak up on people. Can you name any of the front court players from UConn’s team last year ?? That’s what I’m saying…

  • calbert40

    These are my favorite off-season posts. I always look forward to them. Keep up the good work guys.

  • CreamandCrimson

    You would have lost that bet. Interestingly, Troy isn’t in the Top 25. I don’t agree with it but the commentary community thinks higher of Troy’s game than the ITH and UM Hoops writers.

  • Ole Man

    Wouldn’t hurt my feelings if he became one. 🙂

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  • Crimson&CremeFraiche

    I think his defense will be his best attribute this year. I’m predicting right around a block and a steal per game with way better defensive recognition. That’s just my HO.

  • Ole Man

    That would be much improved.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Hmmm… Have you seen the entire list yet? I believe they just released 20-16 today. I’m still betting he’s somewhere in the 15-11 range.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Amida Brimah

  • CreamandCrimson

    I haven’t seen the entire list but in the comments section of the 20-16 release post, Alex was asked about where Troy was and he responded that Troy wasn’t in the Top 25 but that he was one of the next five (26-30) that was considered. Again, I’d have Troy ahead of Thompson and ahead of Denzel Valentine but he’s not on this list.