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Big Ten’s top 25 players: 5-1

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With the official start of practice less than three weeks 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 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 fifth and final installment of players 5-1 is available below: (Previously: 25-21, 20-16, 15-11, 10-6)

5. Yogi Ferrell, Indiana (6-foot, guard, junior)
33.8 mpg, 17.3 ppg, 3.9 apg, 3 rpg, .8 spg, 52.1 eFG percentage

As a sophomore, Ferrell made a leap from bring primarily a distributor to one of the league’s top scorers. The Hoosiers put the ball in the Indianapolis native’s hands often and he accounted for half of the team’s made 3-pointers on the season with 88. He was also reasonably efficient from distance as he managed to knock down 40 percent of his attempts from behind the arc. Ferrell ranked seventh in the conference in assist rate (25.6 percent) and while his turnover rate (18 percent) was improved, it was still too high as Indiana finished as the Big Ten’s worst turnover team. Going into his junior season, Ferrell’s workload may decrease a bit as the Hoosiers have added several key backcourt pieces, including James Blackmon Jr., which should allow him to score more efficiently and also distribute the ball more.

4. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin (6-foot-9, forward, junior)
29.8 mpg, 12.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.4 apg, .8 spg, .6 bpg, 52.8 eFG percentage

Dekker entered his sophomore season with high expectations and while his efficiency dipped a bit from his freshman season, he was a big reason why the Badgers went to their first Final Four under Bo Ryan. Listed at 6-foot-7 during his first two seasons in Madison, Dekker has now reportedly sprouted up a few inches to 6-foot-9 and has the perfect skillset to play the four. He made 55 percent of his 2s, stepped out and hit the 3-pointer when it was available and also was Wisconsin’s second best defensive rebounder behind Frank Kaminsky. He also very rarely turned it over (10.2 turnover percent), which is fourth best among returning players in the league. Two key areas for of improvement Dekker as a junior are his free throw shooting (68.6 percent) and 3-point shooting percentage (32.6), which, if he improves upon both, could catapult him higher up this list by season’s end.

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Big Ten’s top 25 players: 10-6

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With the official start of practice three weeks from today, 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 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 fourth installment of players 10-6 is available below: (Previously: 25-21, 20-16, 15-11)

10. Dez Wells, Maryland (6-foot-5, guard, senior)
30.6 mpg, 14.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.1 spg, 50.8 eFG percentage

While freshman Romelo Trimble could be the x-factor for the Terps, Wells is the leading returning scorer for Mark Turgeon and should be one of the Big Ten’s most versatile perimeter players. He used 25 percent of Maryland’s possessions as a junior and posted an effective field goal percentage close to 51 percent. Wells uses his body very well to draw fouls and gets to the line as evidenced by his free throw rate of 58.1. His 14.9 points per game rank him as the fifth leading returning scorer in the conference and if Maryland is to rebound from a shaky 17-15 campaign and excel in its first Big Ten season, Wells will have to lead the way.

9. Andre Hollins, Minnesota (6-foot-2, guard, senior)
30.5 mpg, 13.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.4 apg, .9 spg, 47.0 eFG percentage

Hollins battled a severe ankle sprain last season, which forced him to miss two games and had him laboring once he did return to action. His 3-point shooting percentage took a large dip from his sophomore season (nearly seven percent), but he did get to the line far more frequently (49.7 free throw rate) as a junior than in his first two seasons. If he can continue to make attacking off the dribble a bigger of his game rather than just settling for jumpers, Hollins can take advantage of what is one of the better free throw strokes in the conference (84.1 percent). His usage has remained in the 24 percent range throughout his career and he’s a solid pick for an all-league type season as he returns to full health.

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Blackmon Jr., Ferrell make list of Sports Illustrated’s top 20 guards

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SI.com: Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet and Harrison twins lead list of top 20 guards in college basketball

For Indiana to turn a dismaying 17-15 season into ancient history, it has to rely less on a player who averaged 17.3 points and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors. Ferrell’s assist-to-turnover ratio was a middling 1.5-to-1. A Hoosiers team that will rely heavily on perimeter production – there’s no strong post presence after Noah Vonleh left for the NBA, and the top newcomer is prized shooting guard recruit James Blackmon – can’t afford for its most experienced cog to be careless with the ball. Ideally, Blackmon’s proficiency and some improvement from wing Troy Williams can remove the do-everything pressure from Ferrell, and he can settle into playmaking mode. He’s the first Indiana player to record 120 or more assists in his first two seasons since Isiah Thomas.

Juwan Morgan commitment could affect Shake Milton decision

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Throughout this past AAU season while playing for MoKan Elite, new Indiana commit Juwan Morgan forged a bond with teammate Shake Milton, both on and off the court.

Even though it was their first season playing together, Morgan noted, it felt like “we had 10 years of chemistry behind us.”

“Just the way he’s able to find and make passes that you wouldn’t even believe,” Morgan said. “Like coming off the screen and the ball is almost waiting for you when you turn around because he puts so much spin and everything on the ball. It’s crazy.”

Indiana also is heavily recruiting the 6-foot-4 guard Milton, rated the No. 80 prospect in the 2015 class, according to the 247Composite.

The Owasso, Oklahoma, native will take his last official visit to Indiana beginning Sept. 26. And on Wednesday night, Morgan said he is hopeful his AAU teammate will join him in college.

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Big Ten’s top 25 players: 15-11

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With the official start of practice less than four weeks 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 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 third installment of players 15-11 is available below: (Previously: 25-21, 20-16)

15. Rayvonte Rice, Illinois (6-foot-4, guard, senior)
32.7 mpg, 15.9 ppg 6.0 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.7 spg, 48.0 eFG percentage

Rayvonte Rice hit the ground running at Illinois. He helped the Illini dominate their non-conference schedule and his scoring average sat at 19 points per game after piling up 29 points in a win over Indiana to open Big Ten play. Then came the rapid regression toward the mean as Rice only averaged 13.8 points per game with just a 42.9 effective field goal percentage in Illinois’ final 21 games. He’s still the No. 4 returning scorer in the conference, but if Illinois wants to play in the the NCAA tournament then Rice is going to have to make adjustments and find ways to be more efficient in Big Ten play during his second and final season in Champaign.

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Juwan Morgan ‘feels great’ following commitment to Indiana

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When class of 2015 forward Juwan Morgan chose to make his college announcement on air Wednesday night via a globally-broadcast YouTube stream, he chose not to advise the Indiana coaching staff of his decision beforehand.

So after he finished his announcement that he will be attending IU next fall, his next step was to get his phone and call Hoosiers coach Tom Crean to inform him of the good news. But when he went to make the call, he saw Crean had already sent a text message congratulating him. As had each member of the IU coaching staff.

“He just said he couldn’t wait to get me on campus and everything,” Morgan told Inside the Hall on Wednesday evening. “All the coaches texted me, actually.

“It feels great finally being committed and everything, especially to as great of a place as Indiana.”

Morgan described Indiana as a “perfect fit” for him, something he knew instantly when he arrived in Bloomington for the first time for an unofficial visit in June. But the Hoosiers had just started recruiting him, and the 6-foot-9 forward admitted he “didn’t think it was” possible he could end up at Indiana. He knew, though, after playing with the team during that visit that he could easily fit into the system.

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Transcript: Juwan Morgan post-announcement presser

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Class of 2015 Waynesville (Mo.) forward Juwan Morgan committed to Indiana on Wednesday night. Afterward, he addressed the assembled media at his high school.

Here’s a full transcript of the press conference:

Q. Reiterate again some of the factors involved in your decision to select Indiana.

Juwan Morgan: Well first off, academics was always the first thing because I do want to get my degree, but also things such as player development, impact on the court as soon as I get there and kind of the family feeling about the team. Those were some big things for me in the decision.

Q. Talk about your visit to Indiana and how that swayed you to make your final selection.

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