As the 2011-2012 mens college basketball season is quickly approaching I’m starting to think more and more of which players I, and the rest of the world, should watch for.  So far I’ve only taken a look at the Big Ten and have come up with the top 21 players I think will have the biggest impacts for their teams.  Obviously the #1 player I believe will have the biggest impact and is the guy everyone should pay the most attention to.

Michigan Wolverines

Name

2010-2011 stats

Points/game

Rebounds/game

Assists/game

FG %

FT %

#1 Tim Hardaway Jr.

13.9

3.8

1.7

.420

.765

# 17 Zach Novak

*3Pt %=.385

8.9

5.8

1.6

.383

.831

Tim Hardaway Jr. I feel will have the biggest impact for his team in the Big Ten.  He’s young and committed to being a star.  I foresee his near 14 ppg last season to rise significantly as he’ll have to take on more of a scoring load for the Wolverines.  When this starts happening I see teams keying him and doing their best to take away as many scoring opportunities from him as possible forcing him to distribute the ball to his teammate Zach Novak.  As you can see Novak basically shot 39% from behind the arc for Michigan last season.  That’s one heck of an average  and if he can keep that up it’ll be a great season for the Wolverines and their fans.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Name

2010-2011 stats

Points/game

Rebounds/game

Assists/game

FG %

FT %

#2 Jared Sullinger

17.2

10.2

1.2

.541

.784

#11 William Buford

14.4

3.9

2.9

.462

.843

Jared Sullinger was possibly the best player in the Big Ten last season. He’s unarguably the best freshman in the Big Ten. He’s back for round two with the Buckeyes and I’m interested to see how he responds to such a successful first season with the Buckeyes.  He averaged a double-double last season and I don’t see that to change much.  However, his points per game may drop a bit for I see teams working on doubling him up when he gets the ball down low.  The only thing that worries me about Sullinger is his Field Goal percentage.  For a big man he shoots just over 50%.  This is absolutely something that he needs to improve.  Ohio State also has 5th year senior William Buford returning to help lead the Buckeyes.  With the anticipation of double teams on Sullinger I see Buford’s role in scoring to go up.  Aaron Craft, the Buckeyes point guard, will have many options, as he did last season, to distribute the ball to. Having these two guys back increases your chances to succeed significantly.

Purdue Boilermakers

Boiler fans look forward to seeing this image erased from memory when Hummel takes to the court this season

Name

2010-2011 stats

Points/game

Rebounds/game

Assists/game

FG %

FT %

#3 Robbie Hummel

*2009-2010 stats

15.7

6.9

2.1

.456

.902

#9 Lewis Jackson

8

3.2

4

.503

.716

#15 Jacob Lawson

Incoming Freshman

Robbie Hummel is undoubtedly a huge key to success for the Boilermakers this season.  When thinking back to last season if Robbie Hummel wouldn’t have gotten hurt I think the Big Ten would have turned out quite differently and Purdue would have made the Final Four.  It will definitely be interesting to see how Robbie comes out of his second tear to his ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament).  The Boilermakers will be leaning on his leadership and abilities no doubt.  Lewis Jackson also surprised many critics last season with his terrific play. He took much better care of the ball than in past years and also became a well accepted 3rd/4th option scorer.  I only see Jackson picking up where he left off and his skills and knowledge of the game are vital for the Boilermakers to have success this upcoming season.  As for Jacob Lawson, it’s been rumored that he’ll be the starting at center for the Boilermakers.  For those unaware Lawson too is coming off a knee injury he suffered last season (high school).  Lawson was the top ranked recruit Purdue has coming in and big things are expected out of him early.

Minnesota Gophers

Name

2010-2011 stats

Points/game

Rebounds/game

Assists/game

FG %

FT %

#4 Trevor Mbakwe

13.9

10.5

1.3

.582

.629

#7 Ralph Sampson III

10.2

5.4

1.6

.471

.739

Minnesota may struggle this season with the loss of Hofbarber.  With this well known fact to Tubby Smith and his team they’ll need both Mbakwe and Sampson III to step up big and take not only huge leadership roles but they’ll both need to take on an extra emphasis on scoring.  These two are no doubt impact players and should be fun to watch this year.  With Minnesota’s home court advantage it should be very interesting to see how these two can control games and put up big numbers to lead their Golden Gophers to victories.

Wisconsin Badgers

Name

2010-2011 stats

Points/game

Rebounds/game

Assists/game

FG %

FT %

#5 Jordan Taylor

18.1

4.1

4.7

.433

.832

# 14 Mike Bruesewitz

4.6

3.1

1

.471

.759

The Wisconsin Badgers are losing some key players from last season. Mainly Jon Leuer.  Jordan Taylor posted an impressive 18 ppg last season at the point guard position.  It’s going to be very interesting to see how he responds to losing two other top 5 scores from last season’s squad.  Taylor has the ability to get through the lane and to the bucket. He also has the finishing ability to drive opposing coaches crazy.  It’s no secret that Mike Bruesewitz is going to have to step his game up to support Taylor and Bo Ryan in hopes of obtaining the Big Ten Title and a deep run into the NCAA Tournament. Bruesewitz is mostly known as a hustle player and his determination and hustle helps boost his value for the Badgers.  If he can improve his game and mix his improved skills with his hustle and determination he’ll be a much more valuable asset to Bo Ryan and his teammates.

Indiana Hoosiers

Name

2010-2011 stats

Points/game

Rebounds/game

Assists/game

FG %

FT %

#6 Cody Zeller

*Incoming Freshman

#8 Christian Watford

16

5.4

1.1

.422

.843

#12 Verdell Jones III

12.5

3.3

3.2

.448

.672

Cody Zeller is one of the highest, top-ranked recruits for this incoming freshman class.  His impact on the Hoosiers could play a huge factor on how well the Hoosiers do this season.  Watford averaged 16 ppg and Verdell averaged 12.5 ppg.  If Zeller is even half the player people expect him to be I look for these numbers to drop just a bit.  However, I think Watford’s rebounds per game need to improve if the Hoosiers want consistent success, especially in Big Ten play, this season.  Verdell’s shooting percentage as a guard alarms me.  His low percentage explains all too well IU’s recent lack of success.  If Zeller plays halfway up to expectations, Watford increases his boards per game, and Jones III increases his shooting percentage by taking better shots and getting to the basketball Indiana  could pull off one of the biggest turn a rounds in any program’s history.

Illinois Fighting Illini

Name

2010-2011 stats

Points/game

Rebounds/game

Assists/game

FG %

FT %

#10 Brandon Paul

9

3.1

2.1

.399

.767

# 16 D.J. Richardson

8.4

1.8

1.9

.415

.758

The Fighting Illini lost a bunch of valuable assets from last year’s team.   Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson both have the ability to step their game up to the point where they lead Illinois to a very successful season. Both of these players being guards they’ll have to up their rebounds per game to help the weak inside game of this team.  These two players will also be forced to pick up the scoring responsibilities if they want team success this year.  One place to start, improve free throw shooting.  Shooting 75% from the charity stripe isn’t bad but both players need to step it up a few notches and take advantage of the opportunities presented to them at the free throw line.

Northwestern Wildcats

Name

2010-2011 stats

Points/game

Rebounds/game

Assists/game

FG %

FT %

#13 John Shurna

*3pt %= .434

16.6

4.9

2.6

.481

.707

As in the recent past Northwestern’s  success depends on the play of John Shurna.  Shurna has the ability to light up the score board from behind the arc. If he gets hot he’s almost unstoppable.  His field goal and three point percentages are both higher than 40% which is every coaches dream.  If Shurna and the Wildcats can catch a few more breaks they’ll have a chance to surprise many teams in the Big Ten this season.  Shurna, if healthy, is always a ton of fun to watch and I’ll be keeping my eyes out for him throughout the season.  Look for Shurna to turn to his shooting abilities to lead the Wildcats to some interesting upsets.

Michigan State Spartans

Name

2010-2011 stats

Points/game

Rebounds/game

Assists/game

FG %

FT %

#18 Draymond Green

17.6

8.6

4.1

.426

.683

With Michigan State losing most of its scoring from last season the Spartans are going to have to rely on Draymond Green to step up and take on the scoring load. 17.6 points per game is a lot but he, and the Spartans, are going to need more.  Michigan States Success depends on Green’s success.

Team Name Rank
Iowa Matt Gatens # 19
Nebraska Jorge Brian Diaz # 20
Penn State Tim Frazier # 21

These three teams need these players to step up and lead them on their journey this upcoming season.  In order for these teams to have any success they each need their main/star player to have strong seasons in hopes of making it into the pool for the NCAA Tournament.

For your liking to compare these players in their play last year (or otherwise specified).

Name 2010-2011 stats Points/game Rebounds/game Assists/game FG % FT %
#1 Tim Hardaway Jr.

13.9

3.8

1.7

.420

.765

#2 Jared Sullinger

17.2

10.2

1.2

.541

.784

#3 Robbie Hummel

*2009-2010 stats

15.7

6.9

2.1

.456

.902

#4 Trevor Mbakwe

13.9

10.5

1.3

.582

.629

#5 Jordan Taylor

18.1

4.1

4.7

.433

.832

#6 Cody Zeller

*Incoming Freshman

#7 Ralph Sampson III

10.2

5.4

1.6

.471

.739

#8 Christian Watford

16

5.4

1.1

.422

.843

#9 Lewis Jackson

8

3.2

4

.503

.716

#10 Brandon Paul

9

3.1

2.1

.399

.767

#11 William Buford

14.4

3.9

2.9

.462

.843

#12 Verdell Jones III

12.5

3.3

3.2

.448

.672

#13 John Shurna

*3pt %= .434

16.6

4.9

2.6

.481

.707

# 14 Mike Bruesewitz

4.6

3.1

1

.471

.759

#15 Jacob Lawson

Incoming Freshman

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