With the Big Ten regular season winding down, it’s safe to start predicting who will be going home with the hardware for all-conference honors. After all, all conference teams either have two or three games left.
As teams position to get favorable seeds in both the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments while some teams position just to get themselves off the bubble, the last week of conference action should be rife with intrigue and storylines. Among those storylines is who will be collecting awards come the end of the season.
So, let’s do our best at predicting who was the best of the best in the Big Ten this season.
1st Team All-Big Ten
G- D’Angelo Russell
G- Yogi Ferrell
G- Melo Trimble
F- Branden Dawson
C- Frank Kaminsky
2nd Team All-Big Ten
G- D.J. Newbill
G- Travis Trice
F- Sam Dekker
F- Aaron White
F- Terran Petteway
3rd Team All-Big Ten
G- James Blackmon Jr.
G- Shannon Scott
G- Dez Wells
F- Malcolm Hill
C- A.J. Hammons
Honorable Mention: Andre Hollins, Zak Irvin, Nigel Hayes, Jake Layman, Rapheal Davis, Shavon Shields, Jarrod Uthoff, Denzel Valentine, Myles Mack, Tre Demps and Troy Williams.
Player of the Year: Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
From start to finish, Kaminsky has stood tallest as the conference’s best overall player who just also happens to be on the Big Ten’s best team.
Kaminsky ranks fourth in the conference in scoring with 17.7 points per game; second in rebounding with 8.3 rebounds per game while fifth in field-goal percentage (shooting .544 from the field). Whether you need a bucket in the paint or a jumper from the perimeter, Kaminsky can do it all and is as clutch as they come. Heck, without him for one game—as he had a concussion—they suffered a humbling loss to Rutgers.
So, while the conference has some other nice players, Kaminsky has to get the nod for being a consistent anchor for the best team.
Freshman of the Year: D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State
The Big Ten sure does have a plethora of great freshmen, as Trimble and Blackmon Jr. have had terrific seasons. However, no one has been as productive and exciting as Russell.
Russell has simply been scintillating. His numbers across the board are more than impressive; He averages 19 points (second in the conference), 5.8 rebounds (16th in the conference) and 5.4 assists per game (tied for second in the conference), while shooting .428 percent from three-point range (fifth in the conference). You could certainly make the case that Russell deserves Big Ten Player of the Year and you wouldn’t be off base.
Yeah, he’s been that good.
Coach of the Year: Mark Turgeon, Maryland
Maryland has had rousing success in their indoctrination to the Big Ten and leading that seamless transition from the ACC has been head coach Mark Turgeon.
Not expected to be anything more than a middling team, Turgeon has guided the Terps to one of their finest seasons in years and has them poised for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. Turgeon has pushed all the right buttons and has done an excellent job molding this team together.
Special mention goes to the job Matt Painter is doing at Purdue, though.
Most Improved Payer of the Year: Malcolm Hill, Illinois
One of the main reasons Illinois has been on the bubble and in position for a postseason bid has been the play of Hill.
While star Rayvonte Rice has missed a lot of time for the Illini, Hill has been the one constant. He has seen his scoring average jump from 4.4 points per game as a freshman to 14.3 points per game as a sophomore. Hill has also seen his field-goal percentage rise from a shoddy .383 percent to a respectable .458 percent and his three-point shooting increase from .341 percent as a freshmen to .395 as a sophomore.
Just a sophomore, Hill should be one of the bigger stars of the conference next season.
Defensive Payer of the Year: A.J. Hammons, Purdue
Purdue has been winning with defense and Hammons has led the charge on that front all season. He’s proven to be one big, intimidating dude.
Hammons leads the Big Ten with 3.0 blocks per game. He also averages 6.4 rebounds per game and is just a beast in the paint. Hammons dares you to come into the lane and more often than not, he wins the battle. His rim protection is second to none, and for that, he deserves this award.