Player of the Week
Trey Burke, Michigan
Burke has turned the ball over just twice and has 23 assists in his past three games. Throw in a 18.0 scoring average and .545 mark from the field, and he’s done everything a point guard can do in that span. The No. 3 Wolverines are still undefeated at 8-0 heading into Saturday’s game against Arkansas, with win against N.C. State, Kansas State and Pittsburgh. Burke’s 17.0 scoring average ranks third in the Big Ten through Wednesday. Burke is getting a lot more love from NBA scouts and has recently been placed in the first round of the 2013 mock.
Ben Brust, Wisconsin
The 6-foot-1 Brust continues to surprise people early in the season by hustling around the court like a guy on a mission. He ranks second in the Big Ten in rebounding at 7.8 per game, and has the most total rebounds in the conference (70). Brust posted his fourth double-double of the season Tuesday during a 86-40 blowout of Nebraska-Omaha, going for 15 points and 10 rebounds while also making three steals. This came a game after he posted 22 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals in an 81-56 rout of California last Sunday. Brust won’t keep up the rebounding numbers throughout the season, but it’s a sign of the amount of effort he brings every night that he’s even at this point nine games through the season. He’s been asked to play a much larger scoring role than expected because of the injury to Josh Gasser, and has embraced it. Brust averaged 21.3 minutes off the bench last season and now is at 30.1. His point average is up to 13.7 from 7.3, and rebounds from 2.2 to 7.8. He’s hit 45.1 percent of his shots from long range, sixth in the Big Ten among players who have attempted 30 or more. His play is a big reason why Wisconsin rebounded from its setback against Virginia to crush its next two opponents — a boost heading into Saturday night’s rivalry game at Marquette.
Nik Stauskas, Michigan
The freshman Stauskas has earned the starting nod for coach John Beilein the past two games and hasn’t disappointed. He led the team with 22 points Saturday in a 74-66 win against Bradley, keeping the Braves from coming to close in the second half with timely 3-pointers. He shot 4-for-5 from beyond in that game and had two steals. Stauskas then hit 3-of-4 from long range in a 73-41 win against Western Michigan on Tuesday, finishing with 11 points and four assists.
Reggie Hearn, Northwestern
Hearn, a senior, collected his second career double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds during a surprising 74-70 win on the road Baylor on Tuesday. The Bears had just ended Kentucky’s 55-game home winning streak, and were prone to a letdown. Hearn hit 6-of-11 from the floor while adding two assists. Hearn also had 10 points and nine rebounds Saturday in a losing effort against Illinois-Chicago. He’s scored in doubles figures in all but one of Northwestern’s games and has nearly doubled his scoring average from last season already (14.2 from 7.4). There’s been room for him to contribute on offense in the absence of John Shurna.
Terone Johnson, Purdue
Johnson has shaken off an early-season ankle injury and his scoring average. The 6-2 elder Johnson has averaged 16.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and three assists over his the four games. His assist-to-turnover ratio is tied for fifth in the conference at 3.0 with Trey Burke. Johnson posted his first career double-double on Saturday with 19 points and 10 rebounds in a loss against Xavier. He could’ve used a little help from his teammates, though — they shot just 31.1 percent from the field in the 63-57 defeat at Mackey Arena. As a whole, the Boilermakers went 0 for 17 from the 3-point line. They responded to hit 4 of 11 Tuesday in a 72-39 win against Lamar, including two from Johnson. He finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.
D.J. Byrd, Purdue
The 6-5, 228-pound senior has hit just one of his last 10 shots, and scored two points this week. He went 0-for-9 from beyond the arc Saturday against Xavier, and then made his only field-goal attempts (a two-pointer) against Lamar in just 18 minutes of play. Byrd is shooting an subpar 15-of-52 (28.8 percent) from 3-point range this season, and 72.2 percent of his shots have come from long range. He needs to get more involved inside the arc to help Terone Johnson in the scoring department. Last season 67.1 percent of his shots came from beyond the arc and he made 43 percent.
Top five juniors
Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
The 6-6, 190-pound Hardaway has the NBA pedigree that shows up in his athleticism and offensive play-making ability. He doesn’t quite have the handles of Tim Sr., but he able to get out on the break and give opponents headaches. He was mired in a bit of a sophomore slump last season, but his shooting percentages, especially from 3, have trended upward through eight games for the No. 3 Wolverines. He’s the team’s second leading scorer at 15.6 points per game behind Burke’s 17.0.
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
The 6-7, 220-pound Thomas is the Big Ten’s leading scorer at 21.0 through six games. He can play inside and out, and is always a threat to shoot the three.
Keith Appling, Michigan State
Appling has been the rock for young Michigan State team thus far. The 6-1 point guard is in the Big Ten’s top 10 in scoring (15.3), assists (4.2), steals (1.7), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7), free-throw percentage (.800) and minutes played (33.7). He’s
Victor Oladipo, Indiana
Oladipo is an athlete, plain and simple. He won’t hit a ton of long range shots, but creates lots of fast-break opportunities with his superb perimeter defense and the way he runs the floor for the top-ranked Hoosiers. He’s scored in double figures in six consecutive games, and has three or more steals in five games already and ranks second in the Big Ten at 2.3 per game.
Aaron Craft, Ohio State
Not a dynamic scorer by any means, but right at the top when it comes to defensive hustle and tenacity on the perimeter. The 6-2 Craft also an excellent distributor and is solid with the ball (3.7 assist to turnover ratio). He’s off to a slow start with his shooting (.373) but shot .500 last season so that should come up.