With the official start of practice just a few weeks away, UMHoops and Inside the Hall have partnered to bring you our annual preseason breakdown of the top 25 players in the Big Ten for the 2021-2022 season.
The series will be broken into five parts over the course of a week and our first installment of players 25-21 is available below:
Also considered, in no particular order: Xavier Johnson (Indiana), Bryce McGowens (Nebraska), Cliff Omoruyi (Rutgers), Joey Hauser (Michigan State), Boo Buie (Northwestern)
25. Jonathan Davis, Wisconsin (6-foot-5, junior, guard)
The Wisconsin roster had a massive overhaul this offseason with the graduations of D’Mitrik Trice, Aleem Ford, Micah Potter and Nate Reuvers. Davis, who appeared in all 31 games last season as a true freshman, is the most logical candidate to take a major step forward on the Badger roster.
As a freshman, he shot close to 39 percent on 3s and the 6-foot-5 guard possesses the slashing ability to get by defenders from the perimeter. His length and athleticism also made him one of the league’s better defenders last season. Davis ranked sixth in conference play with a steal percentage of 3.1. With no clear go-to-guy on the roster and no barrier for Davis to earn major minutes, the La Crosse native is going to get major reps on the wing for Greg Gard as a sophomore.
Over the summer, Davis made USA Basketball’s 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup team and he helped lead the Americans to a gold medal with averages of 4.1 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.
24. Jordan Bohannon, Iowa (6-foot-1, redshirt senior, guard)
Bohannon returns to Iowa City for his sixth collegiate season after a 2020-21 campaign that saw him average 10.6 points, 4.4 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-1 guard is one of the league’s best offensive guards who brings little to the table defensively.
A career 40 percent 3-point shooter, Bohannon has developed a reputation around the conference as one of the league’s most clutch shooters. He already owns program records for assists (639), games played (143) and 3-pointers made (364).
The biggest question for Bohannon is how he’ll adjust to not being surrounded by offensive weapons like Joe Wieskamp and Luka Garza, who have both moved on to the NBA.
23. Max Christie, Michigan State (6-foot-6, freshman, guard)
Christie is ranked 19th in the 2021 class, per the 247Sports Composite, which makes him the third-best prospect entering the league. The McDonald’s All-American averaged 24 points, 10 boards and four assists per game as a senior, helping Rolling Meadows to an undefeated season, and was named Sun-Times Player of the Year.
Christie’s game is projectable to the Big Ten level. He has prototypical size for a wing at 6-foot-6 and he’s a weapon from the 3-point line. While he isn’t the most explosive prospect in the country, his skill and maturity should allow him to make an impact early at Michigan State.
The Spartans have three perimeter starters to replace — Rocket Watts, Aaron Henry and Josh Langford — and there are no obvious returning players who Christie can’t beat out. When Izzo has talented freshmen, he hasn’t hesitated to give them an opportunity, especially on the wing. Aaron Henry, Gary Harris, Miles Bridges and Josh Langford are just a few other recent highly ranked freshmen wings who stepped into key roles from opening night.
22. Tyson Walker, Michigan State (6-foot, junior, guard)
Michigan State’s inability to find a reliable point guard plagued its 2020-21 season from start to finish. The Spartans ended the year ranked 98th in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency — a program worst in Pomeroy’s database dating back to 1996-97.
Nine days after Michigan State’s season ended, Northeastern point guard Tyson Walker announced his intent to transfer to East Lansing. Walker is small but quick and is a capable two-way player. He was a first team All-CAA selection who was also named the league’s defensive player of the Year. His jumper (35 percent career from 3-point range) is solid and strong assist-to-turnover numbers should be a luxury during his transition to Izzo’s offense.
It is always difficult to project how up-transfers will fare in the Big Ten, but Walker’s combination of talent and opportunity is enough for him to crack this year’s list.
21. Qudus Wahab, Maryland (6-foot-11, junior, center)
A 3-star recruit in the class of 2019, Wahab spent his first two collegiate seasons at Georgetown before transferring to Maryland last spring.
As a sophomore for the Hoyas, Wahab averaged 12.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks for a team that won the Big East tournament championship. Wahab shot 59.1 percent last season and averaged 27.7 minutes per game, a high number for a player of his size and stature.
In College Park, he’ll be a clear upgrade in the frontcourt for Mark Turgeon, who got by last season playing Donta Scott at the five. The arrival of Wahab, a true post-up threat, will allow the 6-foot-7 Scott to shift to the four and will give the Terps a more traditional lineup to combat the plethora of elite bigs around the conference.