Big Ten’s top 25 players: 10-6

  • 08/13/2015 8:58 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 fourth installment of players 10-6 is available below: (Previously: 25-21, 20-16, 15-11)

10. Jake Layman, Maryland (6-foot-8, forward, senior)
30.1 mpg, 12.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.4 apg, .7 bpg, 54.4 eFG percentage

Jake Layman might not have been the star on last year’s Maryland roster, but he was certainly under appreciated. At 6-foot-8, Layman has the versatility to impact the game in a number of ways whether it is attacking bigger defenders off the dribble or posting up smaller defenders. He was an efficient scorer last year and should see his role in the offense shift this season with the addition of five-star recruit Diamond Stone. According to Ken Pomeroy’s stats, Layman accounted for 25 percent of Maryland’s minutes at the center position last year. With Stone anchoring the five spot, he’ll be able to play his more natural four position and create more mismatches on the offensive end.

9. Troy Williams, Indiana (6-foot-7, forward, junior)
27.6 mpg, 13.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg, .9 apg, .8 spg, 55.0 eFG percentage

After carefully considering his NBA draft options in the spring, Williams opted to return for his third season in Bloomington, which will likely be his last. The athleticism of Williams has never been a question as that aspect of his game is a major reason he was once rated as a top five prospect in the country back in high school. He was much improved as a sophomore as he finished third on IU in scoring, was the team’s leading rebounder and is the best returning defensive rebounder in the conference from a percentage standpoint (21.7 DR%). There’s still plenty of room for growth for Williams, however, which is a primary reason he opted to return for another season rather than roll the dice and enter the draft. While it was much better as a sophomore than as a freshman, his perimeter shot still needs additional polish and Williams must cut down on his turnovers (19.4 turnover percentage).

8. Diamond Stone, Maryland (6-foot-10, center, freshman)
McDonald’s All-American

A surprising 28-7 mark last season had already ramped up expectations for Maryland heading into the 2015-2016 season. But those expectations were taken to the next level in April, when Stone, a five-star big man, inked a National Letter of Intent with Mark Turgeon and the Terps. A consensus top 10 player nationally, Stone could have gone to any school in the country and turned down Wisconsin, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and many others for what is likely to be a one-year stop in College Park. The missing piece for Maryland last season was consistency in the post and Stone will provide it immediately. He’s an imposing figure at more than 240 pounds who has a solid arsenal of post moves and good footwork. He’s also a very good passer out of the post, which should be beneficial given that he’ll be surrounded by the likes of Rasheed Sulaimon, Melo Trimble, Jake Layman and others.

7. Bronson Koenig, Wisconsin (6-foot-4, point guard, junior)
28.8 mpg, 8.7 ppg, 2.5 apg, 52.5 eFG percentage

Bronson Koenig entered last season as a backup, but will enter this season as a potential top ten player. Koenig isn’t the flashiest guard in the Big Ten, but he stepped up to the plate after Traevon Jackson’s injury last season. Twelve Big Ten guards executed at least 200 ball screens last year (including passes) and Koenig was the most efficient of that group — scoring 1.02 points per possession according to Synergy Sports. Koenig is also an effective isolation player and he was the Big Ten’s third best three-point shooter in conference play at 45.5 percent. His turnover numbers are up to Bo Ryan’s standards, but he’ll have to become more of a distributor as he takes on a bigger role in the offense as his assist rate of 16.1 percent left something to be desired.

6. A.J. Hammons, Purdue (7-foot, center, senior)
24.3 mpg, 11.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.8 bpg, .5 spg, 54.0 eFG percentage

In a Big Ten that didn’t have many dominant big men last season, Hammons was the league’s best rim protector. It wasn’t really close, either. His block percentage (12.3) led all players in league play. He was also the Big Ten’s fourth best offensive rebounder and the seventh best in the conference on the defensive glass. Often criticized in his first two seasons in West Lafayette for being inconsistent, Hammons was pushed for playing time and in practice by freshman Isaac Haas which proved beneficial for both players. The addition of Caleb Swanigan should allow Hammons to roam the backline even more freely for Matt Painter. Swanigan’s presence on the defensive glass will allow him to challenge shots with even more fervor without fear that there will be no one to clean up the boards. Purdue should have one of the nation’s best frontcourts this season with Hammons as its anchor.

Filed to:

  • Kyl470

    Surprised there is such a gap between Stone, Swanigan, and Bryant. I’m not sure which of three will have the best season, but I think you could make the case for all three of them being the best of that bunch. We will just have to see how it plays out on the court this year.

  • IMSKRONG

    Yogi, Trimble, Hayes, LeVert and Valentine.
    1. Trimble
    2. Hayes
    3. Yogi
    4. LeVert
    5. Valentine

  • Ole Man

    Agreed…..Think Swanigan is way too highly rated, and Bryant was rated too low.

  • Ole Man

    Anyone else surprised to see Layman this high? That one caught me off guard.
    In fact, there have been a few “choices” this year that have surprised me.

  • RMK

    That are a lot of people who are really big on Layman. I saw a lot of draft projections of him in the mid 20’s for this past draft. He fits in what seems to be a really big group of very talented players who could take the step to star players (Hammons, Williams, Blackmon, Harris, etc.)

  • CreanFaithful

    Bronson Koenig beats out Troy Williams on the list. LOL! You’ve got to be kidding me…

    Troy is the top returning rebounder in the B1G, 2nd in FG% and 8th in scoring.

    But yeah, Bronson Koenig seems poised for a breakout season based on the eye test.

  • RMK

    5. Valentine
    4. Hayes
    3. LeVert
    2. Trimble
    1. Yogi

    LeVert would be the best player in the conference but who knows if he is healthy. I think out of this group, only my top three have truly been stars on their team before. And out of the top 2, I just think Yogi is a more complete player (especially with a couple more years of experience).

  • IMSKRONG

    When you combine potential, talent and production then Trimble is #1.

  • calbert40

    I think Hammons HAS to be a top 5 player. It’s borderline ridiculous to think otherwise. Equally, I don’t see Swanigan, Stone or Layman as 2nd Team performers. I think Swanigan and Stone are both very good players, but both are going to teams with other stars that will, IMO, hurt their production.

  • TomJameson

    I agree also. 5-stars yes, but still freshmen. I’m sure a 5-star freshman can be on these lists, but these 3 are very similar in overall talent levels and the disparity between them should be less … wherever they ended up.

  • TomJameson

    Shouldn’t really use potential because that is such a huge variable. Two extreme cases – Oladipo wasn’t thought the have all that potential, but of course we all know what happened his junior year. HMP – thought to have tons of potential and just never (for whatever reasons) came to fruition.

    I’m for Yogi being #1 simply because he has already proven it!

  • IULore

    Hammons vs IU, yeah, but he mailed it in vs everyone else.

  • OhioHoosier

    Honestly I think Troy should be at the top of this group, maybe behind Hammons but nobody else.

  • BigAl24

    Anybody been thinking about what this list will look like for next year and who we could have? I think RJ’s a solid bet, and I think Collin could end up in the teens. If TB stays and balls out this year he could be in the ol top ten. Go Hoosiers!

  • marcusgresham

    I know a lot of people questioned why Swanigan would have chosen Purdue over Michigan State but I think it was a good decision for his future. The easy decision with him is to stick him on the block as a low-post guy who is tethered to the lane, but he’s not tall enough to do that if he wants to play in the NBA. With two guys far taller than he is, Purdue has no need to do that. (I’m not even 100% convinced he’s tall enough to play the 4 in the NBA, because I don’t totally buy the 6’8″ measurement.)
    I still think Bryant and Stone will be far better pros than Swanigan, but he will at least have better preparation for his transition than he might have at other schools.

  • marcusgresham

    …but, by placing freshmen on the list, potential is obviously one of the factors being taken into consideration.

  • marcusgresham

    I think Blackmon will be on the list next year because I don’t think he’ll be ready for the NBA after this season either.
    If Leak, Maker, and/or Alkins end up in Bloomington they’ll be on it, too.

  • CreamandCrimson

    15 and 12 against Michigan, 21 and 12 against Penn State (with 4 blocks), 16 and 9 against Northwestern, 11 and 10 with 5 blocks against Minnesota, 17 and 7 with 4 blocks against Rutgers, 16 and 6 against Ohio State, 16 and 10 against Illinois, 23 and 9 with 4 blocks against Penn State, 17 and 10 in the NCAA Tournament against Cincinnati…if that’s mailing it in, I hope Thomas Bryant mails it in all season.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    Are Stone and Swanigan that much better than Bryant?? i Saw Swanigan play in HS and thought he was beyond lazy, alot of talent but…. i guess Izzo will get it out of him. I hope TB out balls both of them!! GO HOOSIERS!!

  • David Macer

    Swanigan decomitted from MSU and is playing for PUke this year.

  • IMSKRONG

    Yes you should use potential. That’s a part of the player. Yogi has pretty much hit his ceiling. Trimble has l it left. And if he plays anything like Trey Burke his Sophomore year then Maryland will have a great year.

  • CreanFaithful

    Any sort of preseason list has to be based on “potential,” otherwise you’d have to stick to last years ratings when ranking teams and leave freshmen off lists like this one.

    That being said, in what way has Yogi “hit his ceiling?”

  • inLinE6

    Saw a clip in which Bryant was 1 on 1 vs Stone, stole his ball and dunk on him. Stone is stronger but definitely slower. Bryant has great hands and moves, and also a perimeter game. Not to take anything away from Stone, as he’s a consensus top 10 (there must be something scouts see but I don’t), but if I have to take one out of the two, I’ll still choose Bryant.

  • Joe Pop

    Ive seen stone here in Milwaukee probably 15 times, kid is the real deal. Big, strong, athletic enough, and has great shooting touch and post moves. Looking at a future NBA all star IMO.

  • Joe Pop

    yeah i dont think layman is that good either, also think koenig is too high, hasnt proven that he is a top 10 player in the Big ten yet

  • Tremble may have more potential than Yogi, but not this year.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    it’s going to be a blast watching these three battle this year. would obviously love to see TB outplay em both. are there any other b1g ROY candidates or is it a 3 man race?

  • Hoosier Hall

    Reminds me a bit of Zach Randolph. Stone is a better shooter than Randolph was in HS though.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Rawle Alkins is the truth. That guy is a tough competitor who plays on both ends of the floor. 2016 is stacked with talent but I bet he moves up the rankings soon.

  • Hoosier Hall

    I think it’s between those 3 but keep an eye out for Jaquan Lyle (Ohio St) and Jalen Coleman (Illinois). My dark horse freshman is Corey Sanders at Rutgers. He will most likely be their best player and have a high usage rate.

  • THRyan

    I wonder who ITH and UMHoops decided was better between yogi and Levert. Basically, which side caved first?

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    Thanks, I forgot he was going to the armpit of Indiana

  • Oldguyy

    At one of those camps earlier this year, Swanigan measured 6′ 7 3/4″ in shoes, but had a 7′ 3 1/2″ wingspan.

  • SilentBob

    Only two of those teams were in the NCAA and none had a great big man. Interesting

  • SilentBob

    Disagree on this one Cal. Hammons has the potential to be the best player in the league and has had that ability his whole time at Purdue. Yet he is inconsistent because of what looks like laziness and lack of competitiveness. One day he looks like the most dominating force in the NCAA, the next he looks like he should be bench in favor of Haas. Give me the kid with heart.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    Alex, I think this is the 2nd or 3rd year ITH and the Michigan group have done this. I think it would be interesting to have a post with the list of the top 15 in prior years compared to the final season AP first – third B1G teams

  • IMSKRONG

    That doesn’t make any sense?

  • jayrig5

    Wow, Zeisloft makes the top 5!

  • SCHoosier

    Given they haven’t played a college game yet..any of them……..I think Stone comes in with a bigger rep..deserved or not…

  • SCHoosier

    Different players, different roles. Koenig..as a PG..got his team to the final four . Troy hasn’t come close to that kind of “importance to the Hoosiers” (yet) Maybe this is the year.

  • CreanFaithful

    “Koenig..as a PG..” played on a final four team.
    He did not get his team to the final four.
    HUGE difference.
    Dude dished 2.5/assists per game?
    I typically like your stuff SC, but this I don’t see how it’s debatable.
    But, I guess ITH/UMHoops would agree with you…

  • Jeremy

    I think if Hammonds ever learned how to play hard against everyone he could be the best player in the league. I may be wrong but sometimes he just seems to not put a lot of effort into it,unless, he is playing IU

  • ArghSonOfOhCrap

    I am in step with you TW is top 5. I do how ever think Mr C40 is right in Hammons. No Offense against TB, DS, or CS those guys are elite guys but unproven. Amir Williams OSU was a top 20 never performed that way.

  • Jason Owens

    Layman is a 3, not a 4 and definitely not a 5. Robert Carter jr is the 4 and should definitely be on this list but seems like the writers don’t even know who he is

  • ArghSonOfOhCrap

    I think it is based on potential but still hard to believe any kid could be top 10 in the BIG as a Freshman

  • HoosierStuckInKY

    That wingspan is crazy. He could scratch his knees without bending over lol.
    Doesn’t Holt have a crazy height/wingspan difference like that?

  • TomJameson

    Yes you are right, it is obviously one of the factors taken into consideration.

    My point is that a players potential is almost entirely subjective and can, and does, change from one persons opinion to another. My examples above show the extremes of how those opinions and expectations can be horribly wrong. And the different opinions are most evident in this forum itself. LOL

    IF potential is to be used as a rating of the top 25 players, then (IMO) that has to be tempered with the understanding that potential can not be very accurately measured for the future.

    Maybe they should have another, different, category for just freshmen. Top-25 non-freshmen and Top-20 freshmen. That would certainly give the forum more food for thought and discussion.

  • TomJameson

    I don’t agree, and your statement about Yogi/Trimble is the perfect example. It is an opinion about a player that others don’t share. When a statement is made like “IF” he plays like …. Very subjective, selective, and based on pure opinion.

    And we all know about opinions …. LOL

  • TomJameson

    I agree with that because of one thing really.

    In this thread there is talk about using potential to measure players (mostly freshmen). I think potential is too subjective to use as anything substantively in rankings.

    But here it is, IF potential is used as one basis of measurement in these rankings then Troy should be in the top 5. His potential is off-the-charts. He is motivated, extremely athletic, and a really hard worker. I think he’s going to be a lottery pick after this season. How can he not be a top-5 based on all that?

  • SilentBob

    No one is saying he is a center, doesn’t change the fact he logged minutes there last year just like Hartman for us. And I imagine you will see Layman log minutes as both the 3 and the 4 this year. And how much at each position depends on the production of some of the players around him like Carter or a Nickens and Wiley. And I could make an argument for Carter cracking the list at 24 or 25 but only if we remove Suilamon first who I very much disagree with making this list. Does Carter have the talent to be on this list? Yea I’d say so. But will he have the production? That’s the same question that keeps Rob Johnson off this list for IU. If IU didn’t have Blackmon I think you most certainly see Johnson on this list