Big Ten’s top 25 players: 20-16

  • 08/11/2015 8:59 am in

With the official start of practice less than two months away, UM Hoops and Inside the Hall have again partnered to bring you a preseason breakdown of the top 25 players in the Big Ten for the 2015-2016 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 second installment of players 20-16 is available below: (Previously: 25-21)

20. Rasheed Sulaimon, Maryland (6-foot-5, wing, senior)
19.3 mpg, 7.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.8 apg, 50.4 eFG percentage (20 games at Duke)

Expectations are sky high in College Park with Melo Trimble and Jake Layman returning to school and five-star big man Diamond Stone entering the mix. Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon should only add to the intrigue. Sulaimon arrived at Duke as a McDonald’s All-American and was named to the 2012-13 ACC All-Freshman team after averaging 11.3 points per game in his rookie year.

From there, his career never quite took off. His production declined over three seasons in Durham – he averaged 7.5 points per game last year — and eventually he was dismissed in January. Now at Maryland, Sulaimon will hope a new environment sparks his career in his final season of eligibility. There are plenty of questions about how Sulaimon fits in College Park, but the one thing that can’t be questioned is his shooting ability. The 6-foot-5 guard shot 39% from long-distance over his career.

19. Jae’Sean Tate, Ohio State (6-foot-4, forward, sophomore)
22.0 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.3 apg, 58.7 eFG percentage

Jae’Sean Tate started Ohio State’s final 16 games last season and it’s not hard to see why. Tate is a coach’s dream with his high motor, rebounding ability and all-around production. His game still might be a bit rough around the edges, but put Tate on the court and you know that he’s going to make plays.

In Big Ten action, Tate touted the conference’s best two-point shooting percentage (67.6%) and eighth-best offensive rebound percentage. For a 6-foot-4 freshman, those sort of numbers are almost unheard of. Tate is Ohio State’s lone returning starter from last year’s end-of-season lineup and it will be critical for Thad Matta’s team that he figures out a way to diversify his offensive game as a sophomore. He shot just 16% (3-of-19) behind the arc last season and handed out only 12 assists in 771 minutes.

18. Derrick Walton, Michigan (6-foot-1, point guard, junior)
33.3 mpg, 10.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.0 apg, 43.7 eFG percentage

Derrick Walton started at the point guard spot for Michigan’s 2013-14 Elite Eight team and was steady and consistent, hitting a number of big shots in big games to help that group win the Big Ten by a wide margin. His stellar freshman season earned him a top-15 spot on last year’s preseason list, but a turf-toe injury sustained in the fifth game of last season sent his sophomore season careening off track. Walton played through the injury until late January — hitting a regulation buzzer-beater to send Michigan into overtime against Wisconsin — before shutting it down for the rest of the season.

Walton’s numbers were down across the board as a sophomore, but he was clearly plagued by the injury. He shot just 32.4% on two-point attempts for the season and a meager 17.1% on twos in Big Ten games. Despite the injury, he was still one of best rebounding guards in the Big Ten, cracking the conference’s top 20 in defensive rebounding rate despite standing just 6-foot tall. Expect Walton to bounce back from those injury-affected numbers and get back on track as a junior.

17. Malcolm Hill, Illinois (6-foot-6, wing, junior)
30.6 mpg, 14.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.3 apg, 50.3 eFG percentage

Malcolm Hill is one the most efficient scorers in the Big Ten. The 6-foot-6 wing was ranked as the sixth best shooter in the Big Ten, and second among returning players, according to Shot Analytics’ points above expectation metric which compares points scored on field goal attempts to expected points based on shot location. Hill scored the ball at all three levels — at the rim (65%), mid-range (50%) and three-point range (39%) — while still getting to the free throw line and keeping his turnover numbers down.

Despite his scoring prowess, we’d still like to see Hill diversify his game. His assist rate was below-average for a wing player and his rebounding numbers leave a bit to be desired. With Tracy Abrams out for another season, this is a great opportunity for Hill to expand his game and start to fill that void.

16. Bryant McIntosh, Northwestern (6-foot-3, guard, sophomore)
33.3 mpg, 11.4 ppg, 4.7 apg, 2.5 rpg, 48.4 eFG percentage

Lightly recruited by high major programs until later in his high school career, McIntosh had dreams of playing in the Big Ten and found a good fit in Evanston. The conference had a loaded freshman class last season with D’Angelo Russell, Melo Trimble, James Blackmon Jr. and Jae’Sean Tate. The Greensburg (Ind.) native joined that group on the league’s all-freshman team.

He owned the league’s second best assist rate at 32.6 percent and hit better than 36 percent on 3s in his first season. More importantly, the rebuilding Northwestern program had the luxury of inserting him right into the starting lineup from day one. That experience should pay major dividends as he enters year two at the reigns of a Northwestern team that should find its way out of the bottom four of the Big Ten standings for the first time since 2012.

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  • Hoosierkamp

    I do think Sulaimon gets a little too much credit. He struggled last year and has to learn a new system. This seems a little too optimistic for him….. until he proves it.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I’m really surprised to see Sulaimon on this list. Many people around the Duke program have said that the team got better once he was jettisoned (which may or may not be true), he averaged less than 8 points a game, was an ineffective rebounder and has seemingly regressed since his freshman season. I’ll have to see who doesn’t make the list before really questioning it (not that me questioning it makes any difference to anyone) but it doesn’t make any sense to me.

    I do really like Jae’Sean Tate, he’s a lot of fun to watch.

  • Hawk4

    …so this means JBJ isn’t making the top 25???

  • Drew

    I’m guessing he is going to be ranked higher.

  • I’m guessing he’ll be in the 10 to 15 range.. He certainly has to be on the list… Doesn’t he????

  • Ole Man

    I would not have included Walton and Tate in the top 25. Really surprised by their inclusion.

  • calbert40

    Look at other sophomores who have been ranked. McIntosh (16) and Tate (18) today along with Nunn (22) yesterday. JBJ would rank above those three guys in most every list like this.

  • TomJameson

    I am positive that JBJ will be on the list. So far not being listed merely means he is listed higher. HoosierKen guessed 10-15 range and I tend to agree … maybe in the 15-20 list.
    Hoosiers in the top 25 will be …

    TB (already listed of course 20-25)
    JBJ (11-15)
    Troy (1-5 or 6-10) — He shouldn’t be ranked any worse than this IMO
    Yogi (1-5) – I think Yogi will have to be top 3 on anybodys list

  • calbert40

    I certainly would have included Tate. Walton…his ranking is obviously based off of what he did as a freshman and not as a sophomore. I can see him on the list, but he is a little high, IMO. I think Tate’s a pinch high too, but nothing to holler too much about. I think I’d take Bryant over Tate, but that’s me.

  • Drew

    Same thing will happen when Caris LaVert is revealed to be in the top 5.

  • Drew

    I would agree. I think he ends up #12.

  • TomJameson

    What I’ve heard points to some kind of chemistry issue with Sulaimon, not really at a talent level. So Duke may be better off without Sulaimon just because of that. We know how that goes … right? LOL

  • BangBang

    Heidi Klum keeps showing up on those website ads on the bottom of the screen and man she is a smoke-show. Definitely in the top 10 over the age of 40

  • marcusgresham

    My hope for Sulaimon is that he totally destroys the chemistry in College Park.

  • Hardwood83

    I like the way you think.

  • At the Quarries

    I’m happy Sulaimon is on the list. Things went sour for him at Duke, and many of the rumors about his conduct are unsubstantiated. Mark Turgeon has vetted him thoroughly and has known him for years. I respect Turgeon for helping revive a young kid’s basketball career. Sulaimon might be one of the hungriest players out there this year. Watch out.

  • MorrisHoosier



    Is it crazy to think that Maryland could possibly be bringing Sulaimon off the bench? Maryland is going to be good. I wouldn’t worry about their depth. Not when your top 6 are very good.

  • TomJameson

    That’s one reason why they are the pre-season #1. LOL

  • Hoosier Hall

    I don’t know about the whole “unsubstantiated” thing. I mean, nothing was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt but Coach K doesn’t just let people go. He was the first in his entire career…

  • Hoosier Hall

    Tate should be in, Walton…. not so much.

  • At the Quarries

    There is always a first. Every coach has a first, and Sulaimon should not pay the price of being that person. No one (on the outside) knows what happened. There weren’t even any formal allegations. You could also ask how come Mark Turgeon would make him a part of his team, especially when Maryland is by no means desperate.

  • SCHoosier

    He will be good now not sure Sulaimon will match was Dez did for the Terps last year.


    LeVert averaged 15 pts, 5 rebs, 4 at and 2 stls before going down last year and scored 15 or more in 10 of his 18 games. He belongs up there for sure.

  • SilentBob

    I really don’t think there top 6 are that great. Stone is pretty good but no Jahlil Okafor or Karl Anthony Townes. If he is better than Bryant, the gap isn’t very wide. Trimble and Yogi will be 1A and 1B for best point guard in the league. Layman is solid but nothing spectacular. I’d easily take the Dez Wells over the combination of Brantley and Suilamon. Even if I though Brantley was good it will be an interesting science experiment for Turgeon to get him and Melo to play together. And they lost a handful of other valuable seniors. They will need nice sophomore leaps from Wiley and Nickens to be as good as advertised.

    Losing Wells just can’t be overstated. Here on some fun facts. A total of 14 of Marylands games were decided by 6 or less points. Wells was huge in all. They won 13 of them which lead to them having the second highest luck%. They won 11 of their final 15 games. 10 of those were decided by 6 points or less with 9 of them being victories. Wanna guess wells averages for those 9 games they won? 19.3 points, 2.6 assists, 55% from the field, and 5.4 rebounds. Their average scoring output was 67.5 points per game in those victories. So even with assuming all those assists lead to twos, he would have been credited with at least 36.3% of the teams offense in those games. That’s unreal. And that was in a very weak big ten and then not advancing past the second round in the NCAA tourney. I might put them as the favorite this year, but it’s by just tiniest of hairs.

  • Bill Graham

    Wells was like the big ten version of Roosevelt Jones. He got to the line late in the game usually putting Maryland in a comfortable position in the last minute. This years Maryland has 3 really good players in (Melo, Layman, and Stone) but many above average players EX: Suilamon… We (on the other hand have) 4 really good players (Yogi, James, TB, and Troy) and several other above average players. I look for us to steal one from the terps.

  • Jason Owens

    Remember the name Robert carter jr. Forgotten by way too many people but really good definitely describes him.

  • SilentBob

    I’d call Suilamon an above average bench player and average starter for a top 25 team. He put up similar numbers as Bryan Forbes at MSU last year and I doubt you see him crack this list. Suilamon had the potential to be good, but if three years with K didn’t have him unlock it then idk what will. Maryland is the safe pick right now, but I see a handful of teams in our own conference (MSU, IU, and Purdue) that have higher ceilings in my opinion

  • Outoftheloop

    PG’s are really key in college basketball, but is Walton really better, more important, than Irving for MI success? If Irving does not average over 15+/game MI just can’t score enough. Meanwhile they do have a good, 4th year, backup PG, who will claim minutes running the team.

  • TomJameson

    I like your analysis Bob, it always seems thoughtful and well “said”. I don’t always agree with every little thing, but it always makes me think.

    I believe Suilamon was having chemistry problems with Coach K. Just an impression I have from all the print about him. His production went down as his minutes decreased, and for probably a dozen reasons I don’t think he was happy where he was. He COULD revert back to where everyone thought he would be, but we’ll all have to wait to see if that happens.

    I agree with you about the B1G being tighter at the top this season. MD is not as much a clear #1 as Wisconsin was last year.

  • SilentBob

    If we agreed on everything it would make for a rather boring conversation! Lol. But did Suilamon have chemistry problems with Coach or did Coach have chemistry problems with Suilamon? That’s the question. And for a player who is looking at being no better than the fourth wheel again, I think you would like to see better defense, passing, and hustle from Suilamon.

    I think Maryland is the best team at the start of Big Ten play, by the end of it I’ll take the Spartans. They’re the team fresh off the final four. You may say they lost more with Dawson and Trice, but if you look at some of the high IQ seniors Maryland lost I don’t think that’s true. I think Valentine was the best player on that team last year and he has been praised at some of these summer events he has attended. A good dark horse candidate for player of the year in the Big in my opinion. They add a big time scorer, and a huge x factor in Davis and I’m intrigued by their two freshmen sharp shooters as well. The platoon of Costello and Schilling should be able to hold their own and Forbes is a reliable vet. And I think Tum Tum and especially Bess and Clark are in for huge sophomore leaps. Bess was held back by that injury last year and Clark by Dawson. Two really good all around typical physical Izzo players.