Player of the Week
Bronson Koenig, Wisconsin
A fine week by "BroKo" extended the Badgers’ winning ways, as he first scored 21 in just 17 minutes against Idaho State, followed by an 18-point outing in a solid road win against Marquette. He shot a stellar 13/22 (59%) from the floor as well as an absolutely torrid 8/13 (62% from 3). That’s now 5 straight wins for Wisconsin, and 3 over major conference opponents. It’s Koenig, not Nigel Hayes, who has led the Badgers in scoring this year, and right now he is playing like he’s one of the best guards in the Big Ten, if not the whole nation. While not an elite athlete, his shooting ability and size at the lead guard position should get him looks for the next level.
Trevor Thompson, Ohio State
In his second year as a Buckeye, the one-time Virginia Tech Hokie is coming into his own as an excellent post player. The 7-footer only averaged 6 points and 5 boards last season, but this season, those numbers are up to 11 and 8, and he’s a huge part of the Buckeyes looking great this year, with the exception of the bad overtime loss to Florida Atlantic at home. He was one of the only OSU players who really performed in that game, scoring 16 points on 7/9 shooting with 7 rebounds. He then led the Buckeyes in a solid win over UConn with a huge double-double of 17 and 17. He’s coming into his own and looks like one of the best big men in the conference, and with his size, if he continues to grow as a player, NBA teams will surely begin showing interest.
Leron Black, Illinois
It was a solid week for the Illini, with wins over IUPUI and a decent MAC team in Central Michigan, and those games were highlighted by individual performances by Tracy Abrams who had 31 against Central Michigan and Malcolm Hill with 32 against IUPUI. But it’s been Leron Black who’s been the steady performer all season long for the Illini. He now has 15 or more points in each of his last 5 games, including 37 total this week. His season averages are up to 14.4 points and 7 rebounds per game, and he’s looking like one of the better forwards out there. While Hill and Abrams will steal the spotlight, Black has been key to the Illini’s recent stretch of good play.
Kam Williams, Ohio State
For a team like Ohio State to lose to a team like Florida Atlantic at home, it’s going to take a few key guys not showing up like they normally do, and Kam Williams was the epitome of that. He scored a meager 4 points on 2/11 shooting, including 0/4 from deep, and he also added two turnovers and 4 fouls. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he recorded a single 3-pointer as his only points against UConn, with no rebounds, assists, steals, or blocks, and only 1/8 shooting to show for it. Fortunately his teammates got it done in that one but overall, Williams shot 16% this week with only 3.5 PPG and 2 turnovers per game. He’ll look to get back on track but a game against #2 UCLA isn’t the best opportunity to do so.
Top 5 Guards
1) Peter Jok, Iowa
Obviously, the scoring numbers speak volumes, but the fact that Jok is putting up the numbers he is putting up while shooting at a decent rate (46%, 41% from deep) and not surrounded by much talent to take the pressure off, is remarkable. He’s an All-American caliber shooting guard and should cruise to the Big Ten scoring title this year.
2) Melo Trimble, Maryland
Trimble has been among the Big Ten’s top guards his entire career but it’s become even more apparent as his splendid career has gone along. This season, he’s averaging 17.7 PPG, good for 4th in the conference, and is shooting a higher percentage than the rest of the top 6. Maryland has never quite performed to expectations in his time there, but he has always been a special player and one of the conference’s best scorers and ballhandlers.
3) Malcolm Hill, Illinois
Hill is a fantastic scorer, often the lone bright spot on a mediocre team in his time at Illinois, and he’s only raised his game this season. His scoring is at a career high (18.9; 2nd in the Big Ten) and he is connecting on a whopping 43% of his 3-pointers. With Tracy Abrams back and healthy and Leron Black putting up good numbers, Hill has someone else to draw attention off of him, and he seems to be flourishing like he failed to do sometimes last season. He will need to really take off in conference play, however, if the Illini are going to finally become relevant again in the postseason discussion.
4) Bronson Koenig, Wisconsin
As mentioned earlier, our Player of the Week is among the Big Ten’s best. He leads the backcourt of arguably the Big Ten’s best team, and his numbers are rising. His sub-40% FG percentage from last season has been improved dramatically, as Koenig is now shooting 46%, a product of the improvement of his shot selection and abiity to create his own looks. He could easily be at the top of this list, and by the end of the season, he may have me changing my tune.
5) James Blackmon, Jr., Indiana
Blackmon is a dynamite scorer, maybe best in the league. In Tom Crean’s up-tempo, offense-first scheme, Blackmon has really been filling it up. Back after missing most of the end of last season, he is averaging 17 PPG and is really starting to fulfill the potential that he came into school with. He’s never been accused of being a great defender, but he’s playing a big role for a very successful Hoosiers team and should continue to amaze with his scoring.