Power ranking the top 25 basketball players in the Big Ten
When Luka Garza, Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn decided they’d stay in school another year, rather than head to the NBA, the Big Ten became all the more intriguing.
The trio headlines a deep group of solid players in the Big Ten this season. For purposes of this list, we even left off three who are coming off injury-plagued seasons: Joshua Langford (Michigan State), Jordan Bohannon (Iowa) and Seth Towns (Ohio State).
Our preseason ranking of the B1G’s top 25 players:
1. Luka Garza, Iowa
One of the most versatile players in the Big Ten, not only this season but perhaps in recent memory, the 6-11, 265-pound center is a double-double machine, with 20 in his career. And Garza plays up vs. big competition, averaging 26.7 points, 11.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 12 games against AP Top 25 opponents last year. He’s a stud.
2. Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois
The junior returned to Illinois looking to bring the Fighting Illini a Big Ten title, and he might be able to do it. The guard can get hot and score in bunches, proven by his 48.4 field goal percentage last season, tops among guards in the Big Ten.
3. Kofi Cockburn, Illinois
A 7-foot, 285-pound ball of muscle, Cockburn proved to be the biggest matchup difficulty in the Big Ten. He’s just too strong for many in the post. Given a year of experience now, the sophomore should be a beast to handle in the paint. He’s an opponent’s nightmare.
4. Trevion Williams, Purdue
If Williams has the stamina to play more than his 20 or so minutes per game, then the power forward/center might be able to average a double-double, or close to it. His array of post moves, and size, make him a challenge for interior defenders.
5. Geo Baker, Rutgers
There’s probably no more clutch player in the Big Ten, as Baker showed an uncanny knack for hitting the big shot last season. He battled injuries and started only 19 games, but if healthy, watch out, he can throw daggers.
6. Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana
The 6-9 Jackson-Davis was great on both ends as a freshman, averaging an IU-high 13.5 points per game and also having 59 blocks, the second most by a Hoosiers freshman in program history. His quickness makes him tough to contain.
7. Marcus Carr, Minnesota
In his first season in Minneapolis, Carr put together an impressive stat line: 15.4 points, 6.6 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game. And he did so as the Gophers’ second scoring option. Now as the lead man, he’ll show off even more of the arsenal.
8. Joe Wieskamp, Iowa
A 1,000-point scorer in only two seasons in Iowa City, the 6-6 wing can fill in up from all over the court. His 3-point shooting took a dip last season — 34.9 percent from 46.2 as a freshman — but with other perimeter threats for the Hawkeyes, it might tick back up.
9. Nate Reuvers, Wisconsin
Even at 6-11, Reuvers is a great face-up scorer — 13.3 points per game as a junior — in the same mold as many who have come before him. But now, as a senior, he’s hoping to be more physical inside and improve on his 4.5 rebounding average.
10. Isaiah Livers, Michigan
Michigan wasn’t the same without Livers in the lineup last season — he missed 10 games with groin and ankle injuries — showing his value to the Wolverines might be even larger than the numbers. At 6-7, he can stretch defenses; he hit 40 percent of his triples in 2019-20.
11. Joey Hauser, Michigan State
After sitting a season following his transfer from Marquette, Hauser is eligible to play in East Lansing. He’s a long, athletic high-energy 6-9 power forward who adds experience to the front court.
12. Ron Harper, Rutgers
One of the strongest shooting guards in the Big Ten, Harper turned into a legitimate threat last season, seeing his scoring average go up to 12.1, 4 points higher than as a rookie. He can shoot — 36 3-pointers last year — but is best using his physicality to get into the lane.
13. Franz Wagner, Michigan
A 6-9 forward with perimeter skills and a prototypical Euro game, he’s tough to defend. He can step outside to hit shots — 41 3-pointers as a freshman last year — but can also dribble-drive. He can be a high efficiency player.
14. Aaron Henry, Michigan State
A former highly regarded recruit, the 6-6 wing will be expected to take a big step forward, now that other more-established options have departed. He upped his averages to 10 points and 5 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament last year, starting to show his versatility as a scorer.
15. Aaron Wiggins, Maryland
The Big Ten’s Sixth Player of the Year last season, Wiggins moves into a bigger role now after the departure of Maryland’s top scorers. As the third option, the 6-6 wing still hit 53 3-pointers and averaged in double figures.
16. Myreon Jones, Penn State
Jones can get it going from the perimeter quickly, as he showed at times last season. He hit 56 3-pointers — 6 in a game at Michigan State — at a 40 percent clip.
17. Duane Washington Jr., Ohio State
A strong off-guard, Washington averaged 11.5 points per game last season, second for the Buckeyes. He hit 40 percent from 3-point range, but also can get to the basket, as shown by his 83 percent shooting, on 60 attempts, from the line.
18. Eric Hunter, Purdue
Hunter will miss the start of the season, probably out until early January, with a knee injury, but once he returns, he gives Purdue a savvy scorer who can hit the 3 and get to the hole. That he can play the point is a bonus.
19. CJ Fredrick, Iowa
A marksman from the perimeter, Fredrick set an Iowa freshman record by hitting 47.9 percent of his 3-pointers last season. But he’s not pigeon-holed as a specialist; the 6-3 guard also has a career 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
20. Trent Frazier, Illinois
The Illini point guard adjusted his style last season, taking a backseat to Illinois’ other scoring options, and his shooting percentages took a hit because of it. But he’s a strong point and solid defender.
21. Gabe Kalscheur, Minnesota
In two seasons, the sharpshooter has 153 3-pointers, hitting from the perimeter at a 37 percent clip. He led the Big Ten in makes (76) and attempts (223) last season, and should get even more chances now.
22. Brad Davison, Wisconsin
Davison might not be liked by many outside of Wisconsin, but he’s loved in Madison. Easy to see why: He’s a gritty, hard-working guard who averaged 9.9 points last season, with 47 3-pointers. The senior has started 93 of his 97 career games.
23. Hunter Dickinson, Michigan
The 7-1, 255-pounder might be a favorite to win Big Ten Freshman of the Year. The lefty is a multifaceted interior scorer who can also pass and shoot a bit while facing the basket. And he’ll get plenty of minutes right away in Ann Arbor.
24. D’Mitrik Trice, Wisconsin
The 6-foot senior is one of the most experienced players in the Big Ten, and steady at the point for the Badgers. Last season, he averaged 9.8 points, 4.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game, and he barely ever turns the ball over.
25. Rocket Watts, Michigan State
The sophomore moves into the start lineup for the Spartans after a solid season off the bench in which he averaged 9 points per game. His shooting needs improved (only 39 percent), but he’s a tough defender and solid all-around player.