Big Ten’s top 25 players for 2016-17: 10-6

  • 08/11/2016 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 fourth installment of players 10-6 is available below (Previously: 25-21, 20-16, 15-11):

10. Caleb Swanigan, Purdue (6-foot-9, forward, sophomore)
25.7 mpg, 10.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.8 apg, 49.8 eFG percentage

Swanigan was one of the more difficult placements to figure out on this list. He was the Big Ten’s leading defensive rebounder as a freshman and averaged in double figures offensively. He also had the sixth most rebounds by a Big Ten freshman since the 1993-94 season.

However, he was Purdue’s least efficient offensive player. He shot a woeful 29.2 percent on 3s (in 72 attempts) and wasn’t much better in the midrange game on 2s (35 percent). He was also Purdue’s most careless player with the ball with a turnover percentage of 25.4. With the graduation of A.J. Hammons, Purdue will need Swanigan to develop into a more mature player who is focused on becoming more efficient. As much as Swanigan wanted to show NBA scouts that he could step out and shoot the 3, his shot selection hurt Purdue quite often.

If he sticks to what he’s good at – which is scoring around the basket and cleaning the defensive boards – he should be one of the Big Ten’s most productive frontcourt players.

9. Vincent Edwards, Purdue (6-foot-8, forward, junior)
27.5 mpg, 11.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.9 apg, 52.4 eFG percentage

Edwards was kind of the forgotten man in West Lafayette last season. AJ Hammons towered over opponents in the paint, Caleb Swanigan brought the hype as a McDonald’s All-American, and Rapheal Davis grabbed headlines as one of the league’s best defenders. But Vince Edwards was the glue that held the Boilermakers together.

Standing 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, Edwards can do a bit of everything. He rebounds, distributes, hits threes (41%), can handle the ball, and can defend a multitude of positions. Among returning players that used 20% of possessions last season, Edwards posted the conference’s 2nd best offensive rating — trailing only Thomas Bryant.

8. Miles Bridges, Michigan State (6-foot-6, forward, freshman)
McDonald’s All-American, Jordan Brand All-Star

The highest ranked incoming Big Ten recruit this season, Bridges looks like an ideal fit for Tom Izzo’s style of play in East Lansing. The Spartans won a hotly contested recruiting battle with Kentucky to land Bridges, a native of Flint who played his final three high school seasons at Huntington Prep. Given what Michigan State lost from last season’s roster – Denzel Valentine, Bryn Forbes, Matt Costello and Deyonta Davis – Bridges is a solid choice to be the most talented player on the roster right away.

At 6-foot-6, he’s a physical freak that loves to finish above the rim and attack the glass relentlessly. Efficiency may be an issue as he adjusts to the structure of the college game, but he should be able to play and guard both forward positions immediately. If Michigan State is to meet expectations, Bridges must be as good as advertised.

7. OG Anunoby, Indiana (6-foot-8, forward, sophomore)
13.7 mpg, 4.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 0.8 spg, 62.5 eFG percentage

Anunoby is the least proven returning player in our top ten, but he also lacked opportunity as a freshman. That should change this season as the Hoosiers lost Troy Williams to the NBA draft and also graduated Max Bielfeldt. Anunoby oozes potential and is the highest ranked Big Ten player on the Draft Express mock draft for 2017. He was called upon often as a defensive stopper last season and his athleticism, length and motor caused problems for several of the nation’s best players.

In Indiana’s NCAA tournament win over Kentucky, he blocked a pair of Jamal Murray 3-point attempts to help the Hoosiers move on to the Sweet Sixteen. Offensively, his numbers were encouraging from an efficiency standpoint in a limited role. He shot 60.9 percent on 2s and 44.8 percent on 3s. He’ll need to improve as a free throw shooter (47.6 percent), but Anunoby is a solid bet for a major leap forward as a sophomore.

6. Malcolm Hill, Illinois (6-foot-6, forward, senior)
35.1 mpg, 18.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 47.8 eFG percentage

The conference’s leading returning scorer at 18.6 points per game in Big Ten play, there’s little questioning Malcolm Hill’s ability to fill up the points column. The question is whether he can do it consistently enough to push Illinois into the upper-half of the Big Ten standings.

Hill put up eye-popping numbers for a team that went 5-13 in league games, with just one conference win against a team other than Minnesota or Rutgers. Numbers are numbers, but they can certainly be hollow.

That being said, Hill drew praise at the Nike Basketball Academy this summer and has the talent to be one of the best players in the conference.

Filed to:

  • Miamihoosier

    So purdue has 3 top 16 players in the league-none of them freshman? If true, being you can only put 5 on the court at a time…they are either going to finish top 4 in the conference or, Painter will have a severely underperforming team.

  • BL4IU

    If the freshman Edwards (reminds me of YF) or Albrecht can beat out Thompson for the starting PG position, PU will definitely be in the hunt. Either way, they’ll be very competitive next year. Good size and some good three point shooters.

  • sarge

    OG for President 2016!

  • Riley

    You’re sleeping on Robert Johnson if you leave him off the list.

  • Chi-Town Hoosier

    Malcom Hill didn’t look too good when we stuck Morgan and OG on him. LOOLLL

  • Miamihoosier

    Youre right about that. He’s clearly better than Uhl, Rakman, and Huerter but I’m sure there’s some sensitivity from the guys at ITH and UMH wanting to avoid looking like homers. The lists are more fun if more schools are represented, but every B1G coach would take RJ over the 3 dudes above.

  • Hardwood83

    That is a fairly common opinion, which I do not share. They weren’t a great team last year and they lose Hammons & Davis, 2 of the top defenders in the league. They gain……. Albrecht? Obviously Swanigan or somebody could make a big jump, but I’m not seeing it. Solid but nothing special is my take.

  • straight no chaser

    I would have ranked him higher than JBJ, because he is a better all-around player, and I think he will be this year.

  • I am Baby Cakes

    Well for the 3rd year in a row, he’ll be 4th fiddle(for Ole Man).

  • BL4IU

    Not suggesting they’ll be great but I believe they will be one of the better teams in the BIG. Davis was good defensively but a major liability on offense. With more minutes, Edwards, Kline and Mathias should excel offensively and spread the floor for Haas and Swanigan to work inside. I expect Swanigan to make a nice jump IF Painter is successful in getting him to play the right way. The wild card is the four-star freshman PG. If he’s legit, PU will be better than last year notwithstanding the loss of Hammons.

  • Bill Graham

    At the same time since ITH is Indiana biased they aren’t going to put 4 or 5 IU players on this list…I mean Hartman is statistically better than some of the guys on here… and Davis could easily be in 20-25 range.

  • IUBizmark

    I just happened to go back and watch that IU vs. UK game. Really brilliant strategy by Crean to put OG on Murray. Ulis went off for 27, but Murray was contained with only 16 points and going 1-9 from 3. They were the only two players in double figures for UK.

  • CreamandCrimson

    You are welcome to your opinion. However, Raphael Davis was fairly awful for much of the second half of last season. He struggled with an injury and was unable to move as well laterally as he did in the past. As a result, his offense was worse than usual and his defense was well below what we’ve come to expect from him. Painter rode him because he trusts veterans but he was pretty bad. Now, his leadership may be missed so that can’t be dismissed. They brought in a point guard, as BL accurately notes, that their fans are very high on and if he can be solid, that would help them immensely.

    Plus, they get Basil Smotherman back from a redshirt season and he is capable of being a very good role player and athlete off the bench. I can understand your doubt (and I hope you are right!) but I think the Boilers will be good (of course, they won’t actually win anything that counts. They are, after all, Purdue).

  • HuntinHoosier86

    DANG! I always forget about RoJo! I have a feeling we’re gonna see a major jump from him.

  • Guyton25

    Man.. the media is not getting fooled by another “Oladipo” out of of IU are they? We saw a glimpse of brilliance from O.G. in the tournament and now everyone is treating him like they treated Oladipo after his junior year. I agree though, O.G. is a beast!

  • John D Murphy

    Interesting that OG and Malcolm Hill are back/back on this list. OG with low stats but a “he changes the game when he’s on the floor” feel while Hill scores the rock but it doesn’t really ever feel like its important to the game.

  • John D Murphy

    What if you worked on offensive / defensive focused units (not exclusive…just as a change up inside the game) similar to the pistons of the late ’80s. Offensive: JBJ, Newkirk?,TB,OG, CH Defensive: RJ, DG, DD, OG, JW

  • E Foy McNaughton

    And the great news is that even with the “defensive” unit, they shouldn’t struggle scoring ….

  • top comment.

  • JW refers to Morgan? If so, then yes.

  • TomJameson

    A little late to the party, but this comment struck a nerve. I think Hartman is one of the most overlooked players in the B1G. Some may think that going into his senior year makes it unlikely that he can make a jump, but I believe that is exactly what he will do.

    This team is just so scary deep and talented. I certainly hope that CTC can manage all their expectations. I really don’t have any doubt of that, if for no other reason than the fact that he is always honest to/with his players. Of course, that’s only from what the players report themselves. 🙂

  • Bill Graham

    Good points all around. Hartman is your classic beneficiary of being a smart player on a talented team….He’s the kind of guy that understands situations like “OK James is going to drive here which means my man will help on the drive, so I should step out and hit the 3,”….at least thats how I imagine his inner dialogue…. I look for Hartman to be a 9-12 point scorer and a 5 rebound type guy. Easily good enough to crack this list.
    *Plus I think he’s at the top of the depth chart for 3-4’s…unless we play a 3 guard lineup.

  • John D Murphy

    Yep. Woops.