With the official start of practice just a few weeks away, UM Hoops and Inside the Hall have partnered to bring you our annual preseason breakdown of the top 25 players in the Big Ten for the 2020-2021 season.
The series will be broken into five parts over the course of a week and our second installment of players 20-16 is available below (Previously: 21-25):
20. Justice Sueing, Ohio State (6-foot-6, redshirt junior, forward)
Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann has leveraged the transfer market effectively since he arrived in Columbus. Sueing is one of three former transfers who should start for the Buckeyes this season and is expected to make an immediate impact. The 6-foot-6 wing sat out the 2019-20 season but he averaged 14.3 points, six rebounds and two assists per game during his sophomore year at California. Those were empty stats on a dreadful team — Cal won five Pac 12 games in Sueing’s two seasons in Berkeley — but the versatile forward is a proven high-major scorer on a team that needs new scoring options. Sueing isn’t a great perimeter shooter (31 percent for his career) but he can score in a number of different ways from facing up, attacking one-on-one, operating out of ball screens or getting downhill in transition.
19. Eric Hunter, Purdue (6-foot-4, junior, guard)
It was a strange offseason in West Lafayette with two rising seniors opting to leave the program. While those departures feel a bit like a passing of the guard, Hunter had already been the steady hand that guides the Purdue backcourt. He played more minutes than anyone else on the roster and now should have more opportunities to run the show without the Nojel Eastern-as-point guard experiment.
Hunter improved across the board as a sophomore. His assist numbers crept up but he also made more shots, making 46 percent of his twos and 36 percent of his threes after a disappointing freshman campaign. With a larger role in store this season, he should be poised to take another step forward as a junior.
18. Geo Baker, Rutgers (6-foot-4, senior, guard)
Baker has been the recipient of significant preseason love from several national writers. Most notably, Andy Katz of NCAA.com ranked him among the top 10 returning players in all of college basketball for the 2020-21 season. While Baker certainly deserves praise for a solid junior season in which he averaged 10.9 points, 3.5 assists and three rebounds, a deeper dive into his numbers reveals that he lacks the efficiency to be considered one of the Big Ten’s top players.
Baker shot a dismal 29.4 percent on 3s as a junior and converted on 49 percent of his 2s. He did rank 11th in the Big Ten in assist rate and has a penchant for making big shots for the Scarlet Knights, but we’re not convinced that he’s the best guard on the Rutgers roster. On a Rutgers team that enters the season with significant expectations for the first time since joining the conference, it bears watching how Baker will handle the hype.
17. D’Mitrik Trice, Wisconsin (6-foot, redshirt senior, guard)
A third team All-Big Ten selection last season, Trice was a major reason Wisconsin captured a share of the regular season league crown. As a redshirt junior, Trice averaged 9.8 points, 4.2 assists and four rebounds in 32.2 minutes per game. He shot 37.6 percent on 3s and ranked sixth in the conference in assist rate. Over Wisconsin’s final eight games last season – all wins – Trice dished out 46 assists.
His turnover rate – 16.4 percent – is higher than what Greg Gard would like out of the point guard position and that will need to improve if the Badgers are to reach their ceiling this season. With 112 games and 77 starts under his belt, Trice is the most experienced player on the Wisconsin roster and the leader on what should be a preseason top 10 team nationally.
16. Myreon Jones, Penn State (6-foot-3, junior, guard)
Outside of Daniel Oturu, Jones was the most notable breakout sophomore in the conference last season. He was a volume shooter who didn’t make shots as a freshman, 32 percent on twos and 28 percent on threes, and was stuck behind Rasir Bolton in Pat Chambers’ perimeter rotation. Bolton’s transfer to Iowa State provided opportunity for Jones and he seized it. Jones shot 40 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore, elevating his effective field goal percentage from 36.6 to 54.9 percent, and flourished as a playmaker with three assists per game. The Nittany Lions aren’t devoid of talent in 2020-21, but they’ll need a new system. Lamar Stevens is gone and Jones will have to be the focal point of the offense as players like Seth Lundy, Myles Dread and Izaiah Brockington also step into larger roles.