Five Big Ten impact newcomers for 2015-2016

  • 07/02/2015 11:08 am in

The Big Ten is shaping up to be an elite league next season and while the league lost plenty of talent to graduation and the NBA, an infusion of McDonald’s All-Americans and transfers will ease the loss of stars like Frank Kaminsky and D’Angelo Russell.

In no particular order, here’s a look at the five newcomers we expect to make the biggest impact on next season’s conference race:

· Eron Harris, Michigan State: The Indianapolis native flew under the radar for much of his prep career at Lawrence North, but a strong summer in 2011 landed him interest from West Virginia and he signed with the Mountaineers. After a pair of seasons in Morgantown, including 2013-2014 where he averaged 17.2 points per game, Harris opted to transfer to Michigan State.

He sat out last season, but is expected to play a major role as a junior. In February, Tom Izzo said that Harris was bringing a “different dimension” to Michigan State practices because of his ability to get his own shot. The graduation of Travis Trice means that immediate minutes and shots will be available for Harris and recent reports suggest that he’s standing out amongst his teammates.

· Diamond Stone, Maryland: The Terrapins won 28 games a season ago and earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament, but the missing ingredient on the roster was a reliable big man. Mark Turgeon got more than just a reliable big man when he signed Stone, the No. 6 player nationally according to the 247Composite. Stone is an imposing 6-foot-10 and more than 240 pounds, but moves well, has a soft touch, can pass and has nice footwork.

So how does he change Maryland’s team? Stone’s presence should open things up even more in the lane for Melo Trimble who got to the basket and to the foul line as well as anyone as a freshman. And he should also help space the floor for guys like Jared Nickens, Jake Layman, Rasheed Suliamon and Dion Wiley. Maryland was a top 15 team before signing Stone, but his addition makes the Terps a legitimate national title contender.

· Thomas Bryant, Indiana: Much like Maryland, Indiana was a perimeter-oriented team a season ago with very little interior scoring. The Hoosiers began to prioritize Bryant, a McDonald’s All-American, in the summer of 2014 and eventually landed his commitment in April. It’s the fifth straight year Tom Crean has recruited a McDonald’s All-American to Bloomington. Bryant plays with relentless energy and will be a major upgrade in terms of production in IU’s frontcourt.

The IU roster is loaded with shooters, but having an inside presence will be a major boost on those nights when the perimeter attack goes cold and the Hoosiers need to find easier baskets. But the bigger impact from Bryant may come on the defensive end and on the glass. Crean’s team last season had little in terms of rim protection and its best defensive rebounder was 6-foot-7 Troy Williams. Bryant should make it harder for opponents to score at the rim and collect second-chance points.

· Caleb Swanigan, Purdue: The Swanigan recruitment was full of twists, but the end result was Matt Painter landing his signature following an earlier commitment to Michigan State. Purdue already had a pair of very good bigs in A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas, but Swanigan solidifies the Boilermaker frontcourt as arguably the nation’s best. Swanigan wants to play the four and it appears he will with Hammons and Haas splitting time at the five.

At 6-foot-9 and 254 pounds, Swanigan will be a matchup problem for Big Ten defenses. He runs the floor well for a player his size, has a soft touch in the paint and can also step out to the midrange. Pairing him with the combination of Hammons and Haas will only make things more difficult for opponents to keep the Boilermakers off of the offensive glass.

· Daniel Giddens, Ohio State: The Buckeyes lost a lot from a group that finished 24-11 and won one NCAA tournament game, including the No. 2 pick in the draft in Russell, a pair of seniors in Shannon Scott and Sam Thompson and all of its rotation big men. Giddens, a consensus top 50 recruit from Marietta, Georgia, should be an immediate upgrade from the departed trio of Amir Williams, Anthony Lee and Trey McDonald.

While he’s not the offensive threat that some of the other incoming big men in the league are, Giddens is a presence on the glass and can block and alter shots. He’s physical, runs the floor hard and can finish plays at the rim off of drop off passes. The post game is still a work in progress, but Giddens is going to get the opportunity to play major minutes early and his body is ready for the challenge.

(Photo credit: Michigan State Athletics)

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  • Arch Puddington

    I saw somewhere — probably a re-tweet byAlex — that Emmit has apparently developed an outside shot to 3 point range. We’ll see if that translates to game competition, but if so, he could pose real problems for big 4’s; long and strong enough to guard them in the low post, and skilled enough to pull them outside on offense. I like the thought! I think he could be an all-conference caliber player by the time he is a senior.

  • millzy32

    The shift to small ball is happening because everyone wants to handle the ball and shoot threes no matter if they are 6 foot tall or 7 foot tall. They all want to space the floor and nobody is playing inside. Then going small against them doesn’t hurt you and you are probably faster but these Purdue bigs are traditional bigs that want to play down low. You can’t just play small ball against them. I think they’ll be very hard to stop this season if they do it right.

  • millzy32

    Teams also lose 100% of the games in which the opposing team scores more points than they do:)

  • millzy32

    EFG. It counts 3 pointers at 1.5 times a two pointer.

  • Robert Golden

    I love making up “stats.” I occasionally email Ken Pomeroy about things I find. Great guy, BTW.

  • millzy32

    I am not following. Are you excited to see Eron Harris play at Michigan State? Or did you mean Fife was excited?

  • Arch Puddington

    He was just offering another perspective on the idea that Harris could have a big impact.

  • hoosier93

    There have been some good big men finally coming out the last 5 years or so. Boogie Cousins, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid, Karl Anthony-Towns and a few this year. I know I’m missing a few.

  • TomJameson

    I really believe that also. And it was a re-tweet by Alex (LOL).

    I’ve heard that Holt is a hard worker with a very good work ethic. I just love it when a player likes to put in the work!

  • TomJameson

    I’m over the upset part, it’s past, learn from it and move on. I think that’s what the team and coaching staff are doing. I see defensive drills on snapchat, I hear positive things about the team working hard. I think the defense is going to be a focus for the team and coaching … just like they’ve said it will be.

    Also you have to remember, as horrible as the defense was last year, it was an aberration in the Crean era. His defenses are usually average to decent … not elite, but pretty good.

  • Was IU ever in the conversation to land Harris as a transfer?

  • Arch Puddington

    Not that I can remember. CTC surely reached out when an Indiana native re-entered the market, but I would be surprised if Harris ever had any interest. With Yogi, JBJ, and RJ all back at least one more year, he would have been far more pressed for PT than at MSU or elsewhere. Maybe somebody remembers differently, but that is what occurs to me.

  • cooper

    My concern for Bryant is him getting the ball in the proper positions and getting touches. IU’s guards are score first and Williams is not a good passer. Bryant is going to have to learn to demand the ball and make the most of his opportunities.

    Before you all say Yogi is a good passer I don’t think he is. He wasn’t great getting Vonleah the ball; Zeller was just a great college player. Plus yogi was young and didn’t shoot as much.

  • Ms hoosier

    We really need Emmit to have a big year with all the solid front courts in the B1G TB won’t be able to solve IU’s front court problem by himself.

  • TomJameson

    I agree. I really like TBs skill levels and his work ethic, but we have to remember that he is still a freshman. I think Holt will be important this year on a few different levels, and helping TB acclimate will be one of them.

  • TomJameson

    Sorry, but I just don’t agree with most of that at all.

    Troys assists in 2013-2014 was .9 per game and 2014-2015 was 2.0 — that tells me his passing was much improved. I think “good passer” is a good description. Not the best, but good.

    Of course mine and your perceptions are both opinions, but I think Yogi is a very good passer, one of the best. Vonleh couldn’t pass very well out of a double team, and since there was only one dependable outside shooter (Yogi), defenses collapsed onto NV.

    Yogis game changed, and he did what he needed to do. Either facilitator, or scorer, or both. And that’s what he did over his 3 years.

  • TomJameson

    85.2% of all stats are made up on the spot.


  • TomJameson

    If I’m thinking specifically about PU vs IU … it could go either way. In any case I think the IU offense would be the better one. We could/should spread the floor and pick them apart with outside shooting. If their bigs came out to guard somebody, we should be able to start slashing to the bucket. Either way it could be a massacre … IF we hit our outside shots. A bad shooting night could kill us.

    If we couldn’t hit our butts with both hands then the dominance of PU bigs would kill us inside, get all the rebounds, and kick our hind ends.

    Overall I’d give the edge to IU because of their offense and how well they will be able to spread the floor. IU has a lot of good, and different, weapons this year! Can’t wait!

  • Robert Golden

    I see what you did there.

  • Brian Goodman

    You’re wrong that Yogi isn’t a good passer. One of the better assist men in the big ten. And even if he struggled to get the ball into the post (which I disagree with your explanation for), that wouldn’t just all around make him not good at passing.

  • Knuckledrager

    100% of frogs bump their a$$ on the ground that don’t have wings. I have imperial prove on the stat also.

  • david r

    I’ll take Thomas the Tank!