Branden Dawson, Michigan State: The 6-foot-6 forward averaged 11.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game last season and will be the Spartans primary offensive threat this year. He was not seen as a major scorer, but shot 61.3% from the field last season and had a breakthrough in postseason play. Dawson averaged 15.7 points per game during the Big Ten and NCAA Tournament and will hope to ride the momentum into his senior season. He’s a tough, physical rebounder who scores most of his points around the basket. Dawson has the potential to be a glue guy in the NBA, but will need to show some makings of a perimeter game due to his lack of size. He can defend multiple positions, but has yet to make a three-pointer at Michigan State and will need a steady jump shot to play at the next level.
Sam Dekker, Wisconsin: Dekker has the size and athleticism for a prototypical NBA small forward. The 6-foot-9 forward has a jumper that extends to the three-point line while he can also slash to the bucket as a testament to his versatility. He can defend wings effectively and brings a certain type of toughness to the Wisconsin squad. Dekker averaged 12.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore and should see a slight increase in his production this season. He could add some muscle to his slender frame, but looks like one of the top NBA prospects from the Big Ten.
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana: Ferrell saw a major increase in his role at Indiana last season and showed that he will be among the top guards in the country this year. He averaged 17.3 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.0 rebounds per game last season while shooting 40% from behind the arc. The 5-foot-11 lead guard is quick and explosive with the ball in his hands, but his lack of size will be a question at the next level. He’ll also need to limit his turnovers and refine his shot selection to earn draft looks.
A.J. Hammons, Purdue: As a 7-foot, 280 pound center, Hammons is certainly on NBA radars due to his build and athletic ability. He will be the primary scorer for Purdue this season after averaging 10.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game as a sophomore. Hammons also brings a shot blocking presence inside, shown in his 3.1 blocks per game last year. While he has the size and footwork that will garner NBA attention, Hammons needs to become more consistent as an offensive player. He’s still raw on both ends of the floor, but the potential is clearly there.
Zak Irvin, Michigan: A former five-star recruit, Irvin is a likely breakout candidate to watch in the Big Ten. He averaged 6.7 points in 15.4 minutes per game last year but will take on a much bigger responsibility offensively with Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III now in the NBA. Irvin, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard, is a quality shooter from behind the arc. He hit 42.5% of his three-point attempts last season and will look to round out his offensive game.
Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin: Kaminsky is perhaps the biggest offensive mismatch in the entire country. The 7-foot center burst onto the scene as a junior last year, averaging team-highs in 13.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He was effective scoring inside with his back to the basket while he also shot 37.8% from three-point range. There simply aren’t many 7-footers with his skill set and coordination. His biggest weakness comes on the defense end, as he lacks elite athleticism and strength that could impact his draft stock. Kaminsky is an intriguing NBA prospect due to his offensive skill set and could become a first round selection.
Caris LeVert, Michigan: LeVert will become the top offensive weapon for Michigan this season after averaging 12.9 points per game last year. He’s an all-around offensive threat, averaging 2.9 assists per game and shooting 40.8% from deep as a sophomore, and will have an even bigger role as a junior. LeVert is also a pest on the defensive end due to his length and athleticism. The 6-foot-7 shooting guard has the physical tools for the NBA and could garner a first round selection. He will need to add some strength to compete against stronger competition, but is already a quality prospect with intriguing upside.
Terran Petteway, Nebraska: After transferring from Texas Tech, Petteway had a remarkable year during his first season at Nebraska. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard averaged 18.1 points per game and showed no issues creating his own offense. He’s a skilled ball handler that can pull-up from anywhere in the half-court. Petteway can also attack the rim and draw contact due to his strength. He’s a skilled and talented scorer, but can sometimes be overly aggressive and force bad shots or commit turnovers. The intrigue comes in his scoring ability, but if he can round out his all-around game, Petteway will certainly earn an NBA Draft selection.
D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State: The preseason favorite for the Freshman of the Year award, Russell could immediately become the leading scorer for the Buckeyes. A 6-foot-5 shooting guard, Russell is one of the smoothest scorers in this year’s freshman class. The southpaw is an excellent shooter that can handle the ball, attack the rim, and has a good feel for a floater. He is especially effective in the pick and roll since he can pull-up from mid-range or find the big man rolling to the hoop. Russell possesses a high basketball IQ and should see time at both guard spots this season.
Troy Williams, Indiana: The ultra-athletic 6-foot-7 forward averaged 7.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game as a freshman and could have a big sophomore year ahead. He already possesses the size, athleticism, and defensive ability to earn NBA intrigue, but will look to refine his offensive game this season. Most of his offense came in transition or on offensive putbacks so adding a consistent jump shot or dribble-drive game could bolster his draft stock. The potential is there, but additions to his offensive game will be necessary for the next level.
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