Player of the Year
Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State
The one-time five-star recruit seemingly came out of nowhere this year as he went from single-digit scoring to carrying his Ohio State team from expected irrelevancy to second in the conference. But those who saw him play in high school were likely less than surprised that he finally emerged as a strong, athletic inside-outside threat who nearly led the Big Ten in scoring. According to Ken Pomeroy, he was the best player in the conference this year, a nod that indicates his elite efficiency and the value he brings to his team.
In preseason, the Big Ten media picked Ohio State to finish 11th in the conference following the departure of Marc Loving, JaQuan Lyle, and Trevor Thompson, as well as head coach Thad Matta, from a team that finished 17-15 last season. If not for the emergence of Bates-Diop (as well as a fantastic coaching job by Chris Holtmann), the Buckeyes would likely find themselves around that spot. But now they sit at 24-7, a #13 ranking, and a potential Top 4 protected seed heading into the conference tournament. Bates-Diop has eclipsed 25 points 8 times this season, and the dynamic small forward will no doubt wreak havoc in his first NCAA Tournament action as a star.
First Team All-Conference
Miles Bridges, Michigan State
The preseason expectation for Miles Bridges was no doubt that he would be the undisputed best player in the conference. And despite the fact that he had a remarkable season overall, the Spartans went as he did in that his struggles mid-year mirrored theirs during the stretch of games where they lost to Michigan and Ohio State and went to overtime with Rutgers. Regardless, Bridges scored 16.8 PPG, averaged 6.8 RPG, and shot 47% from the floor as he assaulted Big Ten defenses at the rim and from beyond the arc. Possibly the most athletic guy in the Big Ten, Bridges got his team back on the right track this season when he started attacking the rim more frequently rather than settling for outside shots. But don’t be fooled; he can stroke it from anywhere, as well, and we saw with his game-winning three against Purdue that he can do it in the clutch.
Carsen Edwards, Purdue
On a Purdue team known for its quartet of seniors, Carsen Edwards was the star as Purdue spent most of the season in the Top 10. The last few seasons, Purdue has boasted a strong inside presence and a cast of deadly shooters; this season, Carsen has emerged as the shot-creating slasher and the straw that stirs the drink. He can get to the rim as well as any guard in the conference, and he connects on 41% of his three’s, many of which are contested pull-up jumpers. In February, he averaged 23 PPG, including the 40 he dropped on Illinois. As postseason play approaches, he is looking like the heir apparent to the title of King of the Big Ten. But his Boilermakers are still getting completely back on track after a shaky February. A few more 30-point games may be in the works if he takes this team deep in the NCAA Tournament.
Tony Carr, Penn State
The sheer volume of Tony Carr’s scoring nets him a spot on this list alongside the stars of the three big dogs of the Big Ten. His 19.9 PPG paces the entire league. The 42% shooting suggests the streaky nature of his scoring, but then you look at his 46% shooting from three (four points higher from outside than overall!) and don’t really know what to think. Penn State has come on strong at the tail end of Big Ten play, and if Carr, Lamar Stevens, and Josh Reaves have the help of ailing big man Mike Watkins, they can surprise some teams in the Big Ten Tournament and maybe even the NCAAs, just as they already did to Ohio State twice this season. Carr averaged 29 points in those two games. He’s as good a bet as any in the Big Ten to put up 30, whether if it takes him two dozen shots or ten to do so.
Juwan Morgan, Indiana
The burly power forward was a beast for the Hoosiers this season. On the heels of losing star trio OG Anunoby, James Blackmon, and Thomas Bryant, the Hoosiers were expected by most to be mediocre at best in the first year of the Archie Miller era. But Morgan stepped up in a big way, averaging 16.6 PPG and 7.3 RPG and keeping the Hoosiers respectable this season. He only played 6 more minutes this season, but his scoring has upticked almost 10 points as he has stepped into a larger role and proved himself to be one of the most improved players in the conference this year.
Second Team All-Conference