Big Ten’s Top 25 Players: 10-6

  • 08/27/2012 9:27 am in

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 (25-2120-16, 15-11) and our fourth installment of players 10-6 is available below:

10. Branden Dawson, Michigan State (6-foot-6, forward, sophomore)
20.6 mpg, 8.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 57.7 eFG%

Dawson’s inclusion in the top ten of this list will likely be scrutinized as there’s no guarantee he’ll be 100% when the season tips in November. As a freshman, Dawson was playing some of his best basketball before tearing his left ACL in Michigan State’s loss to Ohio State to close out the regular season. Early reports on his recovery have been very favorable and the graduation of Draymond Green should thrust Dawson into a more prominent role for Tom Izzo this winter. Dawson’s offensive stats were modest in his rookie campaign, but he was the Big Ten’s best offensive rebounder (13.3 OR%) and had emerged as Michigan State’s go-to defender at the time of his injury. If Dawson can become more consistent from the free throw line (59.4% last season) and knock down some perimeter jump shots, it’ll make his knack for getting to the basket even more valuable.

9. Tim Hardaway, Jr., Michigan (6-foot-6 ,guard, junior)
34.2 mpg, 14.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 48.4 eFG%

Hardaway Jr. was a trendy pick for All-Big Ten honors prior to last season, but his inconsistency from the perimeter derailed an otherwise productive season. Fortunately for John Beilein and the co-Big Ten champion Wolverines, Trey Burke’s fantastic freshman campaign helped negate Hardaway’s spotty shooting. The main crux of the problem a season ago was Hardaway’s shooting from behind the 3-point arc, where he fell from 36.7 as a freshman to 28.3 percent as a sophomore. His Big Ten drop off was even more dramatic: 26.5 down from 44.2% in league games. At his best, the Michigan junior is a future pro with a polished offensive game that allows him to score from anywhere on the court. With an offseason of working with Burke both on campus and at various camps like the LeBron James Skills Academy, Hardaway will benefit from better spacing and in turn, should get the ball in better positions to make shots.

8. Tim Frazier, Penn State (6-foot-1, guard, senior)
37.1 mpg, 18.8 ppg, 6.2 apg, 4.7 rpg

After a surprising run to the NCAA tournament two seasons ago, Penn State fell back to the bottom of the Big Ten last season. The lone consistent bright spot in State College was Tim Frazier, who transformed from role player into the definition of go-to guy. Frazier led Penn State in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals, but forcing one player to do so much, particularly a minute guard, is a poor recipe for winning in a major conference. Still, it’s tough not to respect how valuable Frazier was in getting Penn State to four league wins. His assist rate of 45.3 led the Big Ten and was second nationally and he was also second in the conference to Aaron Craft in steal percentage. The other side of the story, of course, is the lack of efficiency in many of Frazier’s numbers, particularly his 44.6 effective field goal percentage. As Pat Chambers continues to rebuild, expect Frazier to continue putting up big numbers in his senior season.

7. Drew Crawford, Northwestern (6-foot-5, guard/forward, senior)
34.6 mpg, 16.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 56.0 eFG%

While teammate John Shurna grabbed headlines and conference accolades in his final collegiate season, Drew Crawford quietly emerged as one of the league’s best players with far less recognition. Crawford improved his 3-point shooting by close to nine percentage points (32.7 to 41.2) and his effective field goal percentage ranked 12th in the Big Ten. When Northwestern pushed Ohio State to the brink at Welsh-Ryan Arena in late February, it was Crawford’s 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting that nearly pushed them over the top. Shurna’s departure means that Crawford will likely see his usage continue to increase and his scoring numbers continue to rise on a team with few other legit scoring options. As one of the Big Ten’s most complete wings, he should flourish in a more prominent role.

6. Keith Appling, Michigan State (6-foot-1, guard, junior)
30.8 mpg, 11.4 ppg, 3.9 apg, 2.9 rpg

Given his progression from his freshman to his sophomore season, Keith Appling looks like a prime candidate to continue his ascent into the discussion of the Big Ten’s elite players. The former McDonald’s All-American saw a steep regression in his 3-point shooting percentage, but those woes were negated by Appling’s ability to get to basket and either score (50.7 percent shooting on 2’s) or get to the foul line. Only Indiana’s Cody Zeller and Ohio State’s Aaron Craft posted a better free throw rate and Appling converted on close to 79 percent of his 178 free throw attempts. Appling also emerged as one of the Big Ten’s best distributors as his 4.1 assists per game were good for 5th in league play. Provided he continues his hard-nosed defense and regains some of his shooting touch, all-conference honors aren’t out of the question for Appling.

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

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  • Hoosier_DC

    So Hulls is a top 5?

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Even though last year I started to despise the Penn St basketball program with the antics and attitude of their head coach Pat Chambers and also Tim Frazier in addition. Tim Frazier is right where he should be and there is no denying he is a good ball player but his attitude holds him back on the court. If he can control his emotions then look out.

  • Eric Costello

    exactly what i was thinking

  • 888

    This means no hulls in top 25. Thats iffy. I think Dawson is gonna be a beast to deal with before its all said and done.

  • TJ91

    If you had to play with low major talent in the best conference in basketball, you would probably have some attitude as well.

  • catronhoosier

    I get the Frazier love people give him because he scores so much and he is on such a terrible team, but his inefficient scoring to me shows a guy who is highly overrated. To me top 10 guys should be able to go onto any team in the league and still put up big numbers def not the same bc he would be on a much better team but still put up very very good numbers(unless another guy in top 10 plays same position then it’s sort of a given). I just don’t see Frazier going to a Wisconsin, MSU, Michigan, OSU, or coming here and even comin close to being a top 15 guy let alone top 10

  • Tough to be efficient when everyone in the league’s game plan is to try and stop you and you’ve got little to no help. Look at how the efficiency numbers of many of IU’s players improved last year with the addition of Cody and tell me Frazier wouldn’t be more efficient with better teammates.

  • inLinE6

    That puts a chip on his shoulder coming into this season.

  • MillaRed

    I think they are all pretty equal in value to VO. The B1G is loaded. Easily could have said there were 10 players tied for 6th. If I were starting a program tomorrow, I would take any of the 5 above plus victor without hesitation.

  • Oldguyy

    You have to look at the effective field goal percentage in combination with the usage percentage. Frazier’s usage percentage was sky-high, not because he’s a ball-hog (see his assist rate). He had to use a high proportion of Penn State’s possessions because they had so little else, meaning that he had to take more low-percentage shots than he would on another team. The guy who shouldn’t be in the top ten due to a low effective field-goal percentage, in my view, is Hardaway.

  • Oldguyy

    They’re saying that Terone Johnson is better than Hulls. Hmmm.

  • btown freshmen

    no. The top 5 will be mbakwe,craft,burke,deshaun thomas, and zeller. They are all future pros and Hulls isnt

  • catronhoosier

    I see your argument and you are most likely right the more I think about it. I guess it’s more an eye test for me with Frazier and my eyes tell me he is not a top 10 guy. But you have stas to back up your argument.

  • catronhoosier

    As I said in my other reply those stats make a very strong case for Frazier especially his usage rate Im going more on an eye test. And I am 100% with you on Hardaway. I didn’t mention him bc I assumed everyone thought the same as we do. Hardaway seems to have an incredibly high ceiling but his efficiency is incredibly low for a guy with his potential and talent IMO

  • calbert40

    I’m guessing this means a top 5 of Zeller, Mbakwe, Craft, D. Thomas and Burke. I have no issue with four of those names, but if Thomas is in the Top 5, that’s absurd. The guy is a black hole with the ball, and he will score 35 one night and follow it up with 6. No one with that type of inconsistency should be Top 5.

  • calbert40

    I like to use the stats, but in combo with a variation on the “eye test.” I call it the Who-Scares-Me-When-They-Have-The-Ball Test.

    Frazier scares me as much as anyone in the B1G. If he played on even a middling B1G team, like Iowa or Minnesota, he’d be consensus first team without question. If he played for IU, MSU or OSU, he’d be a candidate for All-American honors.

    He is a beast. If anything, I think Frazier is too low and should be in the Top 5.

  • calbert40

    I agree. Once we get out of the Top 5, we could make a solid case for any of the guys ranked 6-15 to be in this group. Personally, I think both Dawson and Appling are too high, but I think they are both very good players. I think Frazier is too low.

  • b_side

    As the focal point of the offense this season (minus Sullinger, a black hole himself), I can see why Alex and UMHoops predict Thomas will make the leap and demonstrate a higher level of consistency.

  • calbert40

    He might be more consistent, or he could fold under the pressure of being the #1. None of us really know. One guy who hasn’t folded as the #1 focal point is Frazier, and he doesn’t have anything remotely as talented as Thomas does around him. I think he should be above Thomas. Honestly, I think I’d rather have any of the guys 6-10 than Thomas. Not a big fan of his.

  • HoosierDD

    If JJ Reddick can make it in the association so can Hulls. They are pretty even as far as 3-point shooting and free-throws. Plus, Hulls is a much better ball handler. Yea, he can’t defend, but neither can 85% of the league. I can’t believe he’s not in the top 25.

  • marcusgresham

    Top 10 or not, at least Drew Crawford’s jumper isn’t a painful to watch as Shurna’s was.

  • SCHoosier

    Lists like these are fun to debate..and if your home boy is gored by his name not being there.(Hulls) .its a bad thing. Frankly.. players like Fraizer and Burke are interesting to analyze. The ball is in their hands so much…that I personally believe it almost renders their teammates ineffective..because they kind of stand around. That’s probably good in Frazier’s case..cause you’d probably rather have him shooting the ball. Burke has a lot of great shooters to dish the ball to around the perimeter..sometimes he does and sometimes the smell of gunpowder fills the arena. I love the way TC has built his team..every position now is a threat to score…on the run or in the half court. We have multiple go to guys depending on the score or weakpoints in the defense. Hell of a lot more fun to watch than one player handling the ball 80% of the time. We can all remember the horrid dribbling Hoosiers of TC’s first two years.

  • Oldguyy

    I’m intrigued by the statement that Frazier led his team in rebounding. I wonder when the last time was that a point guard has done that. They had a revolving door in their front line, but 4.7 rbg is impressive for a 6’1″ guy.

  • Evansville Hoosier

    Michigan may be ranked ahead of MSU, but MSU scares me a lot more. UM’s best players mimic each others skills in a lot of instances; MSU has a varied and multitalented 5.
    Appling, Harris, Dawson, Payne and Nix all bring something different and elite to the table.

  • skotchie

    It’s a myth they don’t play D in the NBA. Alford was a great college player but he couldn’t get off a shot in the NBA and that was 20 plus years ago. I love Hulls in a Hoosier uniform and as a player I believe he will have a great senior season, but I doubt he’ll get to the NBA.

  • CreamandCrimson

    The JJ Redick comparison has been made more than once on this site. I love Hulls but he is no JJ Redick.

    -Redick is 6’4″ (Hulls is 6 feet).
    -Redick had 36 double digit games at Duke…in one season.
    -Redick left Duke as the all-time leading scorer in the history of the program.
    -Redick was a 2-time All-American and the 2006 Player of the Year.

    Hulls is a good player and he may play in the NBA but comparing him to JJ Redick just isn’t accurate.

  • b_side

    Obviously none of us really knows – hence the reason why I used the term “predict” in my earlier post. That said, a strong case can certainly be made on Thomas’ behalf based on his talent level and having never been the first scoring option during his first two seasons. Also, it’s important to note Alex’s caveat:

    “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.”

    Mission accomplished.

  • calbert40

    I understand the prediction portion of this exercise. I believe that too much weight was given to guys that may be able to take the “next step” as opposed to guys who have shown the ability to succeed consistently at a high level already.

    But it’s cool. The whole purpose of any ranking exercise is to get people thinking. I’d rather be discussing who is the 10th best BB player in the B1G than thinking about the long fall we are about to endure!!!

  • DarkSouth

    I’m gonna miss Shurna’s “shot”…he gave hope to tons of kids with a jacked up shooting form, limited athlectic ability, and a nerdy bent.

  • Good stuff.

    I think at the time he finished his career, we has the ACC all-time leader scorer.

    Above all of these accolades and statistics, the most important thing about Reddick was the love he received from Dickie V.
    I can hear it as if it was yesterday: “Ladies & gentleman, J.J. Reddick & Sheldon Williams are going to lead the Dukies to the promised land.” D. Vitale. Circa 2006.

    …Memories

  • DarkSouth

    It all comes down to match ups and I think you’re right that MSU matches up a bit better with IU than UM does. MSU has multiple, physical bigs to throw at Zeller and have guys who match up well with our perimeter players. I think the one guy who they don’t match up well with is Watford.

  • inadvertentelbows_stillhurt

    V.O. is still a raw talent..can’t finish with left hand or make a jumpshot..he is about where he should be listed …

  • Devout Hoosier

    Hulls should be on this list at least in the 24th/25th spot. He’s got proven stats. I just don’t see how freshman were placed head. They haven’t played and may never play a college basketball game. *If* they live up to Hulls’s numbers the freshman will be considered very successful, but Hulls already owns those. Christian Watford and Victor are underrated in this listing too.

    I appreciate the listing and it’s a great forum. But looking at it you’d think Indiana would finish in the middle of the B1G and some where in the top 25. Well, we’re predicted to be #1 and that’s because we are full in *every* position including our bench. There were too many comprimises in the making of this listing. It looks like the 1st draft.

  • HoosierDD

    I understand what you are saying, but I wasn’t trying to compare their accomplishments. I was trying to compare their game. They have similar strengths. If Redick’s strengths can transfer to having
    a career in the NBA, why can’t Hulls? I realize he is 4 inches
    shorter, but he has a better shot fake, ball handling skills, and
    mid-range game than Redick. As far as Redick’s accomplishments, he
    achieved those things by standing at the 3-point line and letting his
    teammates penetrate the lane and kick the ball out to him for open
    threes. He played shooting guard with some of the best talent in
    college basketball for 4 years. That’s a recipe for scoring. Hulls on
    the other hand played pg his first three years of college so his main
    priority was passing the ball (There were times when Crean had to beg
    him to shoot). Two of those years it was with vastly inferior talent. I agree comparing their accomplishments isn’t accurate. Hulls just hasn’t had the same opportunities to be that scorer. Place him at starting SG on those Duke teams and I daresay he would have similar accomplishments.

  • marcusgresham

    I’m going to make a crazy-bold prediction. At some point this season Hulls breaks the single-game school record for 3s.

  • MillaRed

    I agree on Appling. I don’t see him at #6. Would prefer many others over him.

    Dawson has a high ceiling and was getting really good before the injury. I am hoping we do not see that ceiling before the NBA does.

    Imagine what Frazier could do if at IU next season. Wow.

  • MillaRed

    Can Hulls be a defensive liability? Yes
    Can Hulls disappear in some games based on a bad match up? Yes
    Can Hulls turn the ball over when being pressured? Yes

    Can Hulls chuck up 15 second half points in 10 minutes to rip apart your hopes and dreams of victory? Absolutely!

    It’s funny because up here in Wisconsin, everyone loves Hulls, unless he is playing UW. Forget about him out there and he will kill ya.

    Is he a top 25? I would say he is half the time he plays. If he can be a factor in every single game it’s a no doubter.

  • b_side

    Please see the heated debate in the thread for the players ranked 25-21 to get some stats/feedback as to why freshmen are included.

    To answer your comment about us appearing like a middle of the road team, I think you answered the question yourself re: our depth. OSU will have two players in the Top 5 (Craft/Thomas), but clearly can’t go 10+ deep like us. Also, Cody being #1 means a lot more than Trey Burke or whoever being #2. The gap is as wide as the Grand Canyon.

  • MillaRed

    Gary Harris, meet Victor. He will know what gum you are chewing when locking you down on defense. What’s that? You don’t bench 300 pounds? VO does. Welcome to the Big Ten.

  • b_side

    Again, this is a prediction based on various team situations.

    For example, Lewis Jackson is gone so Terone will in theory play a bigger role. On the other hand, Hulls’ impact could decrease as a result of Yogi’s presence.

  • calbert40

    I think Appling is really solid. I think he is the type of player that any B1G program would love to have. I don’t think that he is the 6th best player in the league, though. Dawson COULD be a 2nd team all-conference type player, but I don’t think I’d put him on the preseason 2nd team.

    And completely agree on Frazier. He scares me! I bet lots of B1G coaches have nightmares about him.

  • SCHoosier

    Did Shurna get drafted??Maybe playing overseas?

  • Dagwoods

    Hulls is the leader of our team. And our team is picked to win the B1G. To me, that makes him a top 5 player. This ranking is about the best players in the Big 10, not who’s going to eventually be playing in the NBA. Having freshmen on this list is a joke (look at how our freshmen did a few years ago and what they are doing today).

  • Oldguyy

    Purdue is in big trouble if they have Terone, rather than his brother, at the point this year.

  • b_side

    Didn’t mention point specifically because of Ronnie because I agree with you. But more shot attempts will be available nonetheless. Probably should have mentioned Hummel too for better context.

  • b_side

    If a guy like Christian Watford is 2nd round material, you can pretty much bank that Hulls will not be drafted. He might play a few years in another country, but I think the kid will get into coaching sooner rather than later.

  • Daburns0

    Who are the last five: Zeller, Burke, Thomas, Craft, Mbakwe. Those are the five I can think of.

  • Evansville Hoosier

    I agree, I have no qualms saying Vic can hold down Harris. But their roster scares me. Not very deep though.

  • A lot of the list took into consideration how we’re predicting a player to perform over the course of next season.

    Over his final eight games last year, Johnson averaged 15.1 points (57.3 percent shooting), 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists. With Jackson, Hummel and Smith all gone, he should continue to take on a larger role.

  • Evansville Hoosier

    How are Terone, Anthony, and Ronnie Johnson of Purdue related?