It’s hard to live in Wrigleyville and think about anything but the Cubbies right now (#FlytheW) but Chicago isn’t just about baseball or even the Blackhawks this week — the Big Ten is hosting basketball media days here in Chicago starting this morning.
I am breathing a sigh of relief because this means the glory that is NCAA basketball is that much closer to tipping off. Personally, cialis sale I hope media days lead to Nebraska Coach Tim Miles (one of the most active coaches on social media) tweeting something fabulous from the podium and memorable quotes from Wisconsin Coach Bo Ryan at what may be his last-ever media day address.
So who are these players that a panel of conference media deemed worthy to name to the preseason all-conference team? I break it down for you below, click with players listed in no particular order:
- Melo Trimble, Maryland. Trimble is a sophomore, 6’3″ guard running the court in College Park. Last year as a true freshman, he led the Terps in scoring, assists and steals. In addition to naming him to the All-Big Ten team, the experts also selected Trimble as the conference’s preseason player of the year. As my dad always says, the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores so, I’m sure Trimble will only get better with time and experience.
- Yogi Ferrell, Indiana. Ferrell is a senior who I selfishly hoped would leave Indiana because I hate it when Illinois has to face him. Unfortunately for me and fortunately for the Hoosier state, Ferrell — a dominant 6-foot guard — announced in April he would stay at IU instead of leaving for the NBA. “Anyone who actually knows me knows that I am a fierce competitor. I truly want to leave a legacy of accomplishments at IU, like the great IU legends of the past. I look forward to returning to IU to complete my undergraduate degree and to begin my graduate studies,” he said. And that’s something I can respect. All signs point to him finishing out his career in Bloomington strong.
- Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin. I have to say that Hayes is one of my favorite non-Illini in the Big Ten. While I have never met him personally, this 6’8″ junior forward just seems like he’d be a great guy be around. He started all of Wisconsin’s games last season and is also a 2015 Academic All-Big Ten honoree. You might remember him from the NCAA tournament this year when he learned what a stenographer does and tested her skills during press conferences. (Don’t remember? Check out coverage from Bleacher Report and be prepared to crack a smile.)
- Caris LeVert, Michigan. Similarly to Ferrell, this 6’7″ senior guard passed on going pro and will finish out his four years in Ann Arbor. “Coming back allows me to keep working towards my Michigan degree and take the next steps in my development as a player, teammate and a leader of our program,” he said in his announcement, according to the Detroit Free Press. Respect to the Wolverine co-captain. He’s also on the Jerry West Award Watch List.
- Denzel Valentine, Michigan State. Valentine, a 6’5″ senior guard in East Lansing, was the only B1G player to rank in the top 15 in the conference in scoring, rebounding and assists last season. He was one of the players receiving unanimous voting onto the preseason all-conference team.
- James Blackmon Jr., Indiana. Blackmon is a 6’4″ sophomore guard who, as a freshman, ranked in the top 10 in the conference in scoring, free throw percentage and 3-point field goals made. On a team that is lacking young leadership thanks to discipline issues, Blackmon is poised to make an impact during his second year in Bloomington.
- Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa. This Iowa native, nearly 7-foot-tall forward is a senior in Iowa City. Not only can he ball, he can also hit the books, as Uthoff was an Academic All-Big Ten honoree last season. Also, Uthoff was the only Division I player to record more than 55 blocks, more than 50 three pointers and more than 35 steals last season.
- A.J. Hammons, Purdue. Unlike Uthoff, Hammons is actually a 7-footer, and that height advantage pays off: He has let the B1G in blocked shots for three seasons straight. Adding to is accolades, Hammons became the first Big Ten player in 35 years to reach 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 250 blocks by the end of his junior year. In short, this guy has three years of playing experience under his belt and will be a definite asset to the Boilermakers in West Lafayette this season.
- Jake Layman, Maryland. Layman joined an elite club last season, scoring his 1,000th point as a Terrapin. He’s also just 15 rebounds shy of hitting the 500 career rebound mark. He’s a 6’9″ senior majoring in American studies who is also on the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year watch list.
- Bronson Koenig, Wisconsin. Koenig got the starting point guard gig in Madison halfway through the season last year, playing in all 40 games and starting the last 24 the Badgers played. The junior 6’4″ Wisconsin native is also on the watch list for the national Bob Cousy Award, which recognizes the nation’s top point guard.
Whew! Can’t wait to see what these guys do during the season.