Big Ten’s Top 25 Players: 25-21

  • 08/27/2013 10:49 am in

082713hcxWith the official start of practice less than five 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 2013-2014 season.

Our selection process involved much deliberation to arrive at a list that 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. Tai Webster, Nebraska (6-foot-2, guard, freshman)

You might not know the name, but Webster (pictured), a 6-foot-4 guard from New Zealand, is one of the more talented newcomers in the league. Webster averaged 13.5 points per game in the 2012 Olympic Qualifiers for New Zealand at just 17 years of age and should start for Nebraska at point guard. Nebraska opens a new arena this season and Webster could be the face of Tim Miles’ rebuilding project. Webster had offers from Pitt, St. Mary’s, Virginia and LSU and while he probably won’t turn the Cornhuskers into contenders this season, he will certainly be an upgrade. ESPN international expert Fran Fraschilla speaks highly of him and argues he’s the equivalent of a top-25 recruit. “This is a definite coup for the Huskers,” Fraschilla told the Journal Star. “I’d be shocked if there were 25 better 17-year-old players in the States than this kid.”

24. Terone Johnson, Purdue (6-foot-2, guard, senior)
32.1 mpg, 13.5 ppg, 2.9 apg, 4.7 rpg, .5 spg, 44.5 eFG percentage

Johnson was voted to the All-Big Ten third team by the coaches last season and he led the Boilermakers in scoring while posting career bests in three-point and free throw shooting. That said, he’s still a rather inefficient combo guard. He got to the line less often as a junior and his two-point percentage plummeted as he took on a bigger role in the Purdue backcourt. He shot just 42 percent inside the arc and attempted just 25 free throws per 100 field goal attempts, well below his 40 percent free throw rate as a sophomore. Johnson will look on to lead as a senior and get the most out of his underclassmen teammates Ronnie Johnson, Rapheal Davis and A.J. Hammons, all of whom had growing years last season.

23. Shannon Scott, Ohio State (6-foot-1, guard, junior)
20.9 mpg, 4.9 ppg, 3.8 apg, 2.8 rpg, 1.7 spg, 44.6 eFG percentage

Scott was the best setup man in the Big Ten (on a per-possession basis) not named Trey Burke last season and even without his primary target – Deshaun Thomas – on the roster, he’s a player to watch. Aaron Craft has a reputation as one of the best defenders in the country but Scott makes plays on both sides of the ball. More than just a passer, Scott actually topped Craft and Victor Oladipo to lead the Big Ten in steal rate last season. That’s impressive considering one player was the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft and the other has been considered one of the best perimeter defenders in the country for the last couple of seasons. Scott has the raw ability to jump up this list but will have to improve his scoring efficiency as he shot just 43 percent inside the arc and 33 percent on 33 attempts from beyond the arc last season.

22. Zak Irvin, Michigan (6-foot-6, guard, freshman)

Freshmen need talent and opportunity to excel in their first season. Irvin has both. Indiana’s Mr. Basketball is a legitimate scorer and he could step into Tim Hardaway Jr.’s shoes (and shots) from day one. Irvin can create his own shot off the dribble and is also a smooth jump shooter off the catch. John Beilein knows how to get his players shots and if Irvin makes his share he could have a real shot at being one of the top freshmen in the Big Ten. Irvin is a perfect fit for the wing position in Beilein’s offense and Michigan’s head man has shown no hesitation to throw freshmen into the fire. At least one Wolverine has been represented on the All-Big Ten Freshman team in each of the last three seasons (Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Glenn Robinson III).

21. Lenzelle Smith Jr., Ohio State (6-foot-4, guard, senior)
27.4 mpg, 9.2 ppg, 1.5 apg, 4.8 rpg, .5 spg, 51.5 eFG percentage

Smith has started the last two seasons for the Buckeyes and should be in line for an increased offensive role thanks to the departure of Deshaun Thomas. Smith was Ohio State’s primary perimeter shooting threat last season, going 49-of-131 from long range, but he also is a great rebounding guard. He posted a defensive rebounding rate of 15.3 percent, top-25 in the conference and better than any player 6-foot-4 or shorter. A lot of the offseason talk will surround Ohio State’s frontcourt players and Aaron Craft but Smith is as reliable as it gets for a do-everything off guard in the conference.

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  • WhatsUpKnight

    wow, i remember talking about this last year. seems like years ago, considering how different this year’s team is gonna look!

  • CheesyHoosier

    How many IU players will make this list? I think Noah, Will, and Yogi are locks, but what about Troy Williams or Luke Fischer? This will be interesting to follow. One of my favorite ITH segments.

  • Evansville Hoosier

    Sorry to say that, right now, putting Troy or Luke on the list would be some biased journalism.

  • CreanFaithful

    Zak Irvin is listed at 22. We won’t see TW or LF on here. I’d agree that the other 3 should be locks.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Let’s guess how many Illinois will have on the list

  • ScoopGeoff

    I hope we spend a LOT of time debating whether Webster is really 6’2″ or 6’4″, and whether he looks more like Dante Exum or Gary Harris…

    Fire away!

  • Dee McDonald

    Mr. Irvin is as overrated as it gets. He may flourish in that system because of the no-conscience shots it allows, but I look for him to be much less of a factor than GRIII was last year, and he completely disappeared during most of the B1G season. IMO How does he get more shots this year with Stauskus and GRIII coming back? That doesn’t exactly open things up for him. Stauskus and GRIII will absorb most of THJr’s shots and Irvin will try to find them where he can. He CANNOT get to the rim at will like GRIII did many times last year.

  • b_side

    I’m sure Alex and his UM Hoops counterpart took into account that Burke is gone as well (something you neglected to mention). Talk about a ball dominating PG. With McGary plugging up the paint (and a willing passer), I can see why Alex and co. foresee ample opportunity for Irvin to get his share of looks.

  • Tony


  • Dee McDonald

    Agreed. Burke is the biggest piece of the puzzle and neglecting him really does shoot down my argument. I just personally don’t think Irvin is that “elite” to be touted as he has been in this list. He is an athletic wing, but when it comes right down to it probably very comparable to Devin Davis in ability, shooting, etc…in my opinion. And I’m not going to sit here and argue that Davis should be on the list because he shouldn’t even be considered. Irvin is AT BEST a poor man’s Glenn Robinson III. Not a Top25 B1G player. I see your point though.

  • calbert40

    Terone Johnson makes this list?

    “[H]e’s still a rather inefficient combo guard. He got to the
    line less often as a junior and his two-point percentage plummeted as he
    took on a bigger role in the Purdue backcourt. He shot just 42 percent
    inside the arc and attempted just 25 free throws per 100 field goal
    attempts, well below his 40 percent free throw rate as a sophomore.”

    So, he was markedly worse as a Junior with a larger role on his team than he was as a Sophomore in limited action. How exactly does he make this list again? Is the B1G that weak this year? Sure, he lead his team in scoring last year, but it was due to a volume increase in shots, and his team was awful. I don’t care if he made third team all conference or not, I have a hard time believing that there are only 23 players in the entire conference that are better than him.

  • Snookafly

    Any predictions on the top 5? In no particular order I’m going: Aaron Craft, Gary Harris, Yogi, Adreian Payne, and Mitch McGary. If Tim Frazier could get healthy you might throw him in the mix too.

  • Dee McDonald

    The only other people I could see making a bid at this would be Sheehey and Sam Dekker. If you really stretch it maybe a Sam Thompson, Aaron White, or someone like that…

  • HoosierInChapelHill

    I think Will is going to have a breakout year and he will be in the top 5. His work ethic is too good, and he has shown consistent improvement year to year. I know people will disagree with this, so tell me why I’m wrong.

  • DingoBlue

    UM fan here (duh). I would only say that I think it’s a more fair comparison to say Zak is more like Tim Hardaway Jr. 2.0 (similar measurables and style, but a little more highly touted) than a poor man’s GRIII. I don’t see Zak playing the same role as GRIII which is scoring off assists near the rim and residual action.

  • ScoopGeoff

    Maybe Marble… I’m not sure Dekker starts in the top 5, but I bet he ends there.

    If healthy all year, I don’t see how Frazier doesn’t end up 1st Team, so I think you have to have him ahead of Yogi at least, and definitely in the top 5. I mean led the freaking league in scoring and assists 2 years ago.

  • Dee McDonald

    Zak Irvin is, in my opinion, nowhere close to a 1st Round N
    BA draft pick. Shoot, he couldn’t even get his high school team a win in the state tournament (no matter who they played). My point is not to down-talk Zak Irvin, I’m sure he’s a wonderful kid, but just doesn’t belong in the Top25 discussion in the B1G. Maybe a Tim Hardaway Jr 0.5 Edition. Either the B1G is garbage this year or he has been vastly underrated as a 4-star player…maybe this is the place for UM and IU to compromise and just hope for the best in him? I just don’t agree with the ranking…seems like a nice enough kid.

  • DingoBlue

    Heh, I am not speaking to his place on this list, but focusing on who his game is reminiscent of. He seems to like to jack threes as a first impulse much like Tim Hardaway Jr. seemed in his freshman year. I will not say Irvin’s production will match Tim’s freshman year, but I see him developing into a similar player at Michigan who might declare for the draft in around 3 years. Agreed we should all wish him the best this year regardless.

  • Dee McDonald

    We can agree on that. I totally agree with his impulse being to jack up the 3. Hardaway had a pretty stellar freshman year. Shoot, Hardaway’s freshman season was significantly more efficient than either of the last two. Shy of another rebound per game, no doubt about it at all. If Irvin does that, he’ll prove this ranking correct and then some.

  • Hoosier1989love

    GRIII > Yogi i know we all love Yogi but he is not a top 5 player in the big ten, he may not even be top ten if your not a hoosiers fan. We are all looking through our crimson glasses when we rate these players.

  • That One Guy

    What about that one guy?

  • E Foy McNaughton

    Negative one…

  • E Foy McNaughton

    Agreed – only potential switch I’d see is Sheehey for Payne … But Sheehey will need a monster year to be 1st team B1G

  • Dee McDonald

    How is it that a guy makes Team USA for the World University Games and isn’t even a Top 5 player in his own conference. I think you’re trying to be a little too unbiased.

  • WisconHoosier

    Dekker has had some great games in the UW summer tour. Makes it look easy. He could have average 35 a game if the coach had asked him to.

    I would say he’s a lock for top 5, if not for Bo Ryan’s horrible 52-points-a-game offense.

    Dekker should have come to IU. Seriously. Our offense suits him so much better.

  • moving to btown

    Payne Dekker Gary harris Frazier craft top 5 followed by Sheehey appling Dawson g rob3 mcgary vonleh

  • marcusgresham

    It would be interesting to compare last year’s pre-season 25 with the list from the end of the year.

  • marcusgresham

    I hope he’s not on the top-5 list because he seems to be at his best when he has a chip on his shoulder and feels like he has something to prove.

  • marcusgresham

    He could average 35 a game…..if the team averaged more than 45.

  • Snookafly

    I totally agree that Sheehey is going to really breakout this year, but looking at preseason numbers, I doubt they’ll give him the nod. I think he’ll be our Most Valuable Player but my only concern is how he’ll handle the leadership role.

  • Snookafly

    I think Yogi is underrated. He’s not going to put up huge scoring numbers, but he is one of the best true point guards I’ve ever seen in college. You never have to worry about his ball handling, and his court vision is great. He lacks height and sometimes his immaturity shows, but I’d still take him over GRIII. GRIII is inconsistent, and much of his value seems based on potential. It’s hard to predict how he will respond to Burke’s departure, and whether he’ll be able to create on his own.

  • thrawnjan

    I have the opposite feeling. I see us discussing that Will needs to let the game come to him and not force too much in a few months. I had the feeling, especially later last season, that he became very inefficient when he took too many shots and had this look that whenever the ball would come to him, he would try to make something happen. Just a gut feeling from a random guy though.

  • MisterSlippery

    Previous Year Rankings:
    1. Cody Zeller
    2. Trey Burke
    3. DeShaun Thomas
    4. Trevor Mbakwe
    5. Aaron Craft
    6. Keith Appling
    7. Drew Crawford
    8. Tim Frazier
    9. Tim Hardaway Jr.
    10. Branden Dawson
    11. Christian Watford
    12. Gary Harris
    13. Brandon Paul
    14. Victor Oladipo
    15. Jared Berggren
    16. Adreian Payne
    17. Aaron White
    18. Yogi Ferrell
    19. Sam Dekker
    20. Rodney Williams
    21. Glenn Robinson III
    22. Devyn Marble
    23. Terone Johnson
    24. LaQuinton Ross
    25. Mitch McGary

  • calbert40

    And I don’t believe any of these 5 players are near sniffing that list. Last year was an incredible year to be a B1G fan. I hope this year is even just close to as exciting. Even when IU wasn’t playing, I had a hard time pulling my lazy behind off the couch and turning off BTN during the winter.

  • calbert40

    I’m sorta with Hoosier1989 on this one. I love Yogi, and by the END of the season, I think he could have a shot at 1st team all B1G, but right now, I don’t think you can put him there. I’d be surprised if he wasn’t top 10, though.

  • MisterSlippery

    Victor at 14. He turned out MUCH higher. What a great year, you’re right.

  • JRides

    I have been out of the country and haven’t been able to follow the Big 10. I don’t now what B1G means.

  • HoosierTrav

    How does Zak Irvin make the list and Troy doesnt though?. Its not biased if he belongs.