A way-too-early preseason all-B1G men's basketball team for 2023-24
Northwestern point guard Boo Buie’s decision to return to Evanston for a 5th season could go down as one of the most significant decisions of this Big Ten men’s basketball offseason.
Buie, already among the most decorated players in program history, removed his name from the NBA Draft process on Monday.
Not finished… pic.twitter.com/G4OrXAs31M
— BOO BUIE (@booboo_buie) May 8, 2023
With Buie back, the Wildcats have a shot at the first back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in school history. Northwestern could even be the team best positioned to challenge Michigan State for the conference title if teammate Chase Audige makes the same choice as Buie in the coming weeks.
Should Purdue’s Zach Edey stay in the draft pool, as most anticipate, Buie will be the only returning first team all-conference player in the Big Ten next season.
It goes without saying he’ll have an excellent chance of reprising the feat. But who will be joining him?
This — the Saturday Tradition way-too-early preseason all-Big Ten team — is an attempt to figure that out.
And if you’re wondering where the freshmen are, it should be noted that only 1 freshman (Jalen Hood-Schifino) was first or second team all-B1G last season.
Way-too-early all-B1G First Team
Boo Buie, G, Northwestern
Buie was 6th in the Big Ten in scoring (17.3 ppg) and 5th in assists (4.5 apg) last season. As one of the conference’s most veteran players, he will have an opportunity to improve on those numbers.
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Jahmir Young, G, Maryland
Young, like Buie, elected to exercise the extra year of eligibility granted to him thanks to the disaster that was the Covid-shortened 2020 season. A year ago, Young came home to Maryland from UNC-Charlotte with the idea of improving his draft stock. Now, he’s giving the Terrapins another year.
Young will have a shot to win Big Ten player of the year.
AJ Hoggard, G, Michigan State
Noticing a pattern?
In 2023, the B1G was largely defined by its bigs — Edey, Trayce Jackson-Davis and Hunter Dickinson. Next season, backcourts will be at the forefront. Hoggard makes it quite likely that 3 point guards will be all-Big Ten players — and perhaps that will finally result in better luck for Big Ten teams come March.
Tyson Walker, G, Michigan State
The Spartans will enter next season as overwhelming Big Ten favorites because they have the rare luxury of returning their starting backcourt. Walker was 11th in the B1G in scoring with 14.9 ppg last season.
Clifford Omoruyi, C, Rutgers
This is still the Big Ten, so of course there’s still room for a center on a projected all-conference team.
Omoruyi doesn’t create shots in the way Edey, Jackson-Davis and Dickinson could. Most of his scoring is done flushing it down at the rim. But no other Big Ten big can match his defensive resume. He’ll be the top returning rebounder and shot blocker in the league next season.
Way-too-early all-B1G Second Team
Caleb Love, G, Michigan
The North Carolina transfer will need to carry the load for the Wolverines next season with Dickinson, Jett Howard and Kobe Bufkin all out of the picture.
Love was an all-ACC honorable mention the past 2 years, and should elevate his game as a senior.
Tony Perkins, G, Iowa
Look for a Hawkeye to make a major leap from supporting role to star for the 3rd year in a row. Perkins, however, is poised to be the first of those stars who isn’t a Murray twin. He reached the 20-point mark 4 times in Iowa’s final 11 games last season, including a career-best 32 points against Illinois.
And if it isn’t Perkins, Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year Peyton Sandfort could be the guy. Or perhaps both of them will be.
Xavier Johnson, G, Indiana
Johnson is among the bevy of talented veteran point guards returning to the Big Ten next season. He missed the majority of last season after breaking his foot at Kansas in December.
Given the scoring load he’s likely to inherit, Johnson will have a shot at being a first team all-B1G player.
Chucky Hepburn, G, Wisconsin
Hepburn had a somewhat erratic sophomore season marked by peaks and valleys — much like the Badgers as a whole. When he’s at his best, though, he’s one of the Big Ten’s best.
That figures to happen with greater frequency as a junior.
Bruce Thornton, G, Ohio State
Thornton was perhaps the biggest factor in Ohio State’s late-season resurgence out of the Big Ten cellar. He averaged 16.4 ppg over the final 8 games of the season, and the Buckeyes were a respectable 5-3 in that stretch.
Game-changing potential returnees
Zach Edey, C, Purdue
If the national player of the year comes back for another season, it’s automatically a big deal.
Chase Audige, G, Northwestern
Michigan State still has more firepower coming back next season, but Audige’s return would give Northwestern the Big Ten’s feistiest defense when it comes to forcing turnovers. The Wildcats are a factor in the league race with Audige.
Keisei Tominaga, G, Nebraska
Nebraska’s most beloved basketball player since — Ty Lue? Erik Piatkowski? — will be the Big Ten’s best pure shooter if he takes his name out of the NBA Draft pool. You have to figure the NIL money will be there should he get approved for a waiver as a foreign national.
Paul Mulcahy, G, Rutgers
Mulcahy is very much the embodiment of Rutgers basketball, and if he comes back the Scarlet Knights will have one of the league’s most experienced rosters. And with Hunter Dickinson at Kansas, he will also fill a void as the opposing player Big Ten fans enjoy heckling the most.
Coleman Hawkins, F, Illinois
The best possible version of the Illini next season would feature Hawkins at power forward with Dain Dainja getting the majority of his minutes at center. Hawkins’ inconsistency can be frustrating, but it’s also an argument for another year at the college level.
Illinois is probably an NCAA Tournament bubble team without Hawkins, but builds a stronger case with him on the roster.