Big Ten’s top 25 players for 2016-17: 20-16

  • 08/09/2016 8:59 am in

With the official start of practice less than two months away, UMHoops and Inside the Hall have again partnered to bring you a preseason breakdown of the top 25 players in the Big Ten for the 2016-2017 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 second installment of players 20-16 is available below: (Previously: 25-21)

20. Jae’Sean Tate, Ohio State (6-foot-4, forward, junior)
29.0 mpg, 11.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.3 spg, 54.8 eFG percentage

Tate, who missed Ohio State’s last seven games of the 2015-16 season to undergo shoulder surgery, battled injuries throughout his sophomore campaign. The shoulder injury didn’t occur until early February, but it forced the Buckeyes to shut him down for the year on Feb. 23. He also had surgery earlier this offseason to repair loose cartilage in his right ankle that bothered him for most of last season.

Despite those setbacks, Tate was productive in the 28 games he played in last season. He was Ohio State’s third leading scorer who shot 55 percent on 2s in Big Ten games. He was also in the top 25 in the conference in offensive rebounding percentage, steal percentage and turnover rate. If offseason reports are any indication, Tate seems to be on track to be 100 percent healthy for the start of the regular season.

19. Jalen Coleman-Lands, Illinois (6-foot-3, guard, sophomore)
26.1 mpg, 10.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 56.8 eFG percentage

Illinois was a mess last season, but Coleman-Lands was a bright spot in his freshman campaign. And the opportunity to make a leap forward as a sophomore is there for the taking after the dismissal of Kendrick Nunn.

A former Jordan Brand All-Star, Coleman-Lands shot 42 percent on 3s in Big Ten play last season and was fifth in turnover percentage at just 8.7. He set an Illinois program record for made 3-pointers by a freshman with 87. Given Nunn’s departure and an offseason of development, it’s not unreasonable to project Coleman-Lands to increase his scoring average by four or five points per game. He will, however, need to prove himself in other areas than scoring as his assist and rebounding numbers were basically non-existent as a freshman.

18. James Blackmon Jr., Indiana (6-foot-4, guard, junior)
24.5 mpg, 15.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.2 spg, 60.2 eFG percentage

Before going down with a non-contact knee injury in practice two days prior to Indiana’s Big Ten opener last season, James Blackmon Jr. was in the midst of a very good offensive season as a sophomore. The former McDonald’s All-American was second on the team in scoring at 15.8 points per game and was shooting 46.3 percent on 3s. But he would never get back on the floor the rest of the season as he underwent season ending knee surgery. And the perception – some of it justified – was that Indiana improved defensively when Blackmon Jr. was lost for the season.

After testing the NBA draft waters, Blackmon Jr. opted to return for his junior season and should be a focal point of the Indiana offense. But will he be a committed player on defense? Can he handle some point guard minutes with the graduation of Yogi Ferrell? And will he have all of his athleticism back following another major knee surgery? These are all questions Blackmon Jr. must answer upon his return.

17. Zak Irvin, Michigan (6-foot-6, forward, senior)
11.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.1 apg, 46.9 eFG percentage

Heading into his senior year, it’s hard to know what to make of Zak Irvin as he finishes a career filled with ups, downs and inconsistencies.

As a freshman, Irvin was one of the best specialists in the country, coming off the bench and making 43% of his triples for an Elite Eight team. The process of growing into a featured role in Michigan’s offense (and defending the four) hasn’t been smooth. Injuries to himself and his teammates have undoubtedly affected his development, but the numbers say that Irvin has regressed statistically throughout his three years in Ann Arbor.

His shooting numbers have fallen, his turnovers have increased and his efficiency metrics have declined. On the other hand, look back at any of Michigan’s big wins and Irvin usually plays a critical part. He scored over 20 points in Michigan’s two best wins (Maryland, Purdue) last year and hit the game winner in the First Four victory over Tulsa.

There’s been a bit of a two-steps forward, one-step back feel to Irvin’s development. He’s finally passing the ball more effectively (107 assists last year compared to 13 as a freshman), but he lost his consistency with his jumper.

He has the tools to lead and if he can put it all together in his final year, he’ll have every opportunity to put up big numbers.

16. Isaac Haas, Purdue (7-foot-2, center, junior)
14.3 mpg, 9.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, .5 apg, .8 bpg, 59.4 eFG percentage

Haas played fewer minutes last season than most players on this list, but the 7-foot-2, 282 pound junior is stepping into a perfect situation after the graduation of AJ Hammons.

Haas has been one of the most devastating backup post players in the Big Ten over the past two seasons and now he’ll be a starter for the team that throws the ball into the post as often as any team in the country.

Why are we sold that Haas can step up in Hammons’ absence? He shot 58% on 2s last year, drew eight fouls per 40 minutes, and posted a block rate of 5.4%.

He was also ranked second in the Big Ten in points created out of post-ups, trailing only Hammons. Purdue scored 283 points out of 276 possessions that ended with Haas in the post or a pass-out to a shot, per Synergy. That’s a better total than Nigel Hayes, Thomas Bryant, Diamond Stone, Alex Olah or any other notable big man in the Big Ten last season.

The big question marks for Haas are stamina, conditioning, foul trouble and just how many minutes he can stay on the court. When he’s on the floor, there’s little question that he’ll be productive down low.

Filed to:

  • Arch Puddington

    Haas at 16 surprises me. I just don’t know enough about who all is returning to say that I disagree with it, but there just aren’t that many veterans with his size and skill. Maybe I think he’s better than he really is.

    And if Blackmon shoots and scores at the same rate he was before his injury, he will finish the season ranked higher than this almost regardless of his defense (assuming he stays healthy, of course). 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 43% from deep are worth of at least 3rd team all conference by themselves.

  • millzy32

    Agreed. Haas could be top 5 if he can stay healthy and out of foul trouble. His averages are for 14 minutes a game. Get that up to 28-32 minutes a game and he could be pretty intimidating. This 5 seems to have a lot of players who have more potential than they have shown. It could almost be the under performing 5 list.

  • straight no chaser

    JBJ is a fantastic replacement for Nick Zeisloft. I hope he will deliver.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    i wonder if Haas is in good enough shape to play 28-32 min a game.

  • straight no chaser

    Haas is dangerous! His minutes went down slightly (fraction of a minute) with the arrival of Swanigan. He will end the season I think higher than this ranking. TB versus Haas will be a clash of titans!

  • HuntinHoosier86

    Is this ForeverIU? I thought this was your alternate name. If not, sorry.

  • millzy32

    I know what you’re saying but it isn’t really physical shape as he is ripped but he is just so large that things tend to go slowly for him. Guys that big have to really grow into their bodies. I think his growing is still a bit ahead of his overall development. Plus those giant guys tend to have a lot of foot problems for some reason as well. At the end of the day people just aren’t made to be that big.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    i really missed watching JBJR last season. i love watching him shoot, especially when he gets in a zone. only thing, he’s thus far shown to be far too streaky of a shooter. i get the impression he gets into his own head, maybe focusing too much on mechanics at times. but anyway, dang it i hope he makes it the entire season. based on the few photos i’ve seen, he’s bulked up some. hopefully this will help curb the injuries.

  • Bill Graham

    So I’m going to preface my comment by stating this:

    If you had to create an all BIG team of the top 2 players at each position PG, SG, etc.. (10 man roster total) who would you pick? Think about it before you continue reading my post….*by the way just for fun I’ll put my all BIG team at the bottom…

    Most of you if you were honest would easily say that JBJ is the best or 2nd best 2 guard in the conference….So why then is a 16 ppg game scorer with a 60efg and a 46% clip from 3 listed as the 18th best player? And injuries and defense arent valid excuses in my book…lets break it down…injuries: He has still played in 46 college games thats not exactly a small sample size….defense: of course his d needs improvement but you know who else is a scoring guard that’s terrible on d….james harden…but you don’t see him lower in rankings because of it…Plus on a more rational note every single player has some flaw in their game…even TB, Hayes, and Trimble…

    Other facts to support my argument: JBJ is 4th returning ppg (only 3 other players are ahead of him…and those other 3 averaged nearly 8 more minutes per game which means if JBJ was healthy enough to play 30 mins a game he’d be the BIG’s leading returning scorer…yet he’s still ranked 18th??

    By the way JBJ is No 1 in 3pt % out of all returning BIG players.
    No 3 in FT % and surprisingly No 9 in steals…

    The numbers don’t lie JBJ should be ranked higher

    *sidenote my all BIG team would be PG #1: Melo PG#2: Koenig
    SG #1 JBJ SG#2: Jok
    SF #1 Hayes SF#2 Hill or Bridges (undecided)
    PF #1 O.G. PF#2 Carter
    C #1 TB C#2 Haas


  • Hardwood83

    I agree he’s dangerous, but not convinced he can make the leap. Tough to imagine him playing over 20mins a game. He’s just too much of a lumbering dork.
    On a positive note for Haas, I am certain there will be a remake of the “Addams family” at some point and he has the Lurch part locked up. No make up even necessary.

  • CreanFaithful

    His minutes will increase, but he will not be averaging 28-32 minutes. Book that.

  • Kyl470

    I agree with you point on JBJ. Even if he is still below average on defense our starting line up could be Johnson, JBJ, Hartman, OG, and Bryant. Even if you swap Johnson for Newkirk that is still a line up that will play good defense. You can hide JBJ by putting him on the other teams weakest offensive player. If the other team has a good scoring two guard then you put OG on him, JBJ on their small forward and Hartman on the power forward. IU did the same thing back in the day with Steve Alford.

  • straight no chaser

    Ivan Drago!

  • straight no chaser

    Yes, we share the same puppeteer! What are you other names?

  • HuntinHoosier86

    No other names for ITH. IRL, though, you might be familiar with my alter-ego:

  • HuntinHoosier86

    OMG, YAAAAAAASSSSS!!! Every time I see him play, I always think he looks like somebody else, but could never put my finger on it!

  • Bill Graham

    I wonder though if his D will be improved since he heard about improving it to improve his draft stock…still that knee recovery is worrisome with lateral movement.

  • hoosierjakester

    IRVIN ahead of Blackmon is a joke.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    that problem will take care of itself if JBJR can stay healthy

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    are you serious??

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    i’m with you, hard wood. not sure he’s going to morph into a dominant player. however, i wouldn’t want to guard that herman munster looking so-and-so

  • John D Murphy

    Three things
    1. I love reading your posts. Your passion shines.
    2. You can’t discount defense for JBJ and then have OG as a first team all B1G
    3. If we have 3 first team all B1G…it will be an unbelievable season.

  • Guyton25

    JBJ has got to stop putting his head down and driving straight into defenders and losing the ball. If he stops doing that he can be good. Bryant and him will make an awesome duo if JBJ can learn to be a smart, team player. I can’t wait to see how much he’s grown.

  • HuntinHoosier86

    You never can be too sure……

  • Bill Graham

    Thats fair and thanks for the complement I could say the same about your posts…as for JBJ: its hard with JBJ because he hasn’t even been average on D. If he had moments/glimpses of being able to adequately defend then we wouldn’t be having this conversation…but still, its just hard to put that good of a scorer at 18th…I think he’s head and shoulders a better player than Irvin and Irvin is 17th…

  • Fivelefts

    I think JBJ struggles balancing his offensive game, with his defensive game. One takes a back seat.. usually it’s the defense!

  • E Foy McNaughton

    Huntin….. Batman…. so cool!