Big Ten

Big Ten’s top 25 players for 2019-20: 6-10

With the official start of practice quickly approaching, UM Hoops and Inside the Hall have again partnered to bring you a preseason breakdown of the top 25 players in the Big Ten for the 2019-2020 season.

Our selection process involved much deliberation to arrive at a list we hope will provide plenty of reaction and debate. The series will be broken into five parts and our fourth installment of players 6-10 is available below. Previously: 11-1516-20, 21-25

10. Jon Teske, Michigan (7-foot-1, center, senior)

Michigan center Jon Teske was elite in his role last season. He is one of the conference’s best defensive big men and led in the country in roll man scoring, per Synergy Sports. Teske only made 3-of-22 3-pointers in non-conference play, but improved to 36 percent in league play and grew into a reliable pick-and-pop threat.

We know that Teske is capable of providing everything that John Beilein wanted at the center position, but we don’t know what Juwan Howard will ask of his post players. Teske was not a reliable low post scorer last season and he could face a difficult transition if his role changes too dramatically.

9. Kaleb Wesson, Ohio State (6-foot-9, forward, junior)

After testing the NBA draft waters, Wesson opted to return to Columbus for his junior season. That was a smart decision as his below the rim post game is unlikely to ever land him on an NBA roster. In the college game, however, Wesson is a productive, high usage big who can also step out to the perimeter.

As a sophomore, Wesson was seventh in the Big Ten in usage rate and shot a stellar 52.8 percent on 2s and 36.1 percent on 3s in league play. He also ranked in the top 25 of the conference in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage, assist rate, block percentage and steal percentage.

While Wesson’s usage rate could drop a bit as a junior as Ohio State looks to integrate the league’s top recruiting class, he will still be the first offensive option for Chris Holtmann as the Buckeyes look to reach the NCAA tournament for a third straight season.

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8. Joe Wieskamp, Iowa (6-foot-6, guard, sophomore)

Wieskamp is already one of the best shooters in the Big Ten and his game has plenty of room to grow. The 6-foot-6 wing posted a 65.8 effective field goal percentage on catch and shoot jumpers last season, per Synergy Sports, which ranks in the top five among returning players in the conference.

Wieskamp averaged 11.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game as a freshman despite playing on a deep squad loaded with offensive weapons. While Wieskamp was effective and efficient playing off of Tyler Cook, Isaiah Moss and Jordan Bohannon last season, he should move into a more featured role in the offense this year. Wieskamp is ready for the shift. Despite limited usage, he graded out in the 94th percentile as a pick-and-roll playmaker last season.

He might have flown a bit under the radar when compared to other freshmen in the conference last season, but Wieskamp should be in the conversation for All-Big Ten honors by year’s end.

7. Jalen Smith, Maryland (6-foot-10, forward, sophomore)

In today’s era of college basketball, it is rare to see a player like Jalen Smith return for his sophomore season. 6-foot-10 big men with long arms, coordination and a developing jumpshot are not expected to hang around a college campus for more than a few months. Smith could have made the jump to the NBA but opted to return to school an anchor a Maryland team picked to finish near the top of the conference.

Smith was so raw as a freshman that it is fair to expect his game to improve across the board. He’ll also have more opportunities now that he’s not sharing the frontcourt with Bruno Fernando. Smith is already a great finisher, offensive rebounder and rim protector, but his offensive game should expand as a sophomore.

6. Xavier Tillman, Michigan State (6-foot-8, forward, junior)

Tillman’s breakout sophomore season made Nick Ward’s decision to head overseas to pursue a professional career much easier for Michigan State fans to swallow.

The 6-foot-8 forward shot 65.7 percent on 2s last season in league play, which ranked third in the conference. When he wasn’t finishing, he was getting to the line and converting. Tillman was second in the conference in free throw rate and hit 81.2 percent of his attempts in league play, good for ninth in the league. He’s also an elite offensive rebounder – 12.2 offensive rebounding percentage in Big Ten games – and a very good shot blocker.

With Cassius Winston back in East Lansing for his senior season, Tillman will be in line for another season of productivity as the roll guy in the pick-and-roll.

Notable Replies

  1. Jeffrey_E_Schiller

    Respectfully, Dylan, that’s not the test. Taking a PG off the floor will almost always impact a team more than a big because the ball is in his hands all the time. In Maryland’s case last year, the ONLY alternative to Cowan at the point was Ayala, who is not really a point, and was a freshman to boot. So yeah, Maryland’s numbers were better with Cowan than without, though it is worth noting again that his numbers against very good opponents were pretty dreadful. Do the numbers you cite separate out games against good opponents from those against bad ones? Cowan was terrific in games against bad teams, but Maryland would have won those games even without him.

    I also don’t think it’s fair to downplay Tillman just because his team has great players like Winston and a lot of depth so it could survive in his absence. Ask the question differently–if you were a BT coach and could trade for either Cowan or Tillman, who would you trade for?

  2. umhoops

    So this list is a composite with Inside the Hall. We both rank teams, average our ranks and then discuss any adjustments or ties that we need to settle. We both had Wesson at No. 9 in our rankings, I, personally, had Teske ranked ahead of him. They are a spot apart from each other on the list so I feel like having any sort of significant disagreement there is a bit overrated.

    FWIW, Wesson will probably be on most preseason All-Big Ten First Team projections I would bet and Teske will probably be 3rd team to off. Just based on my early read of things. So I would say generally speaking we are higher on Teske and lower on Wesson, as many of you are here.

    Practice starts near the end of the month. I know 7v7/ summer whispers and stuff like that is big in football, but I’m not sure there’s much to glean as far as open gym reports (especially before practice even starts). I’d be skeptical of anything I don’t see with my own two eyes.

    We know who the three best players are on this team but until we see anyone else with the lights on we don’t really know what to expect.

    Beilein usually let us in to watch part of a practice or two over the last few years, but no idea if we’ll have something similar this year.

  3. umhoops

    Good example of what I’m talking about …

    I have high expectations for Franz Wagner, you have high expectations for Franz Wagner. Should this change how we think about Franz Wagner? Probably not. We already knew he had potential and have broken down the video, thought about his fit, etc.

    I just am generally skeptical of most of that offseason kind of talk. Just my 2 cents.

  4. bluejayway

    Rothstein: jack of all obvious; master of even less.

  5. buckets12

    “Cowan over Simpson?!?!?!” will be fun tomorrow :joy:

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