The Big Ten men's basketball schedule gets underway on Friday. James Hawkins of The Detroit News breaks down a key player from each conference team.
Ayo Dosunmu, Fr., G: The five-star talent and Chicago native isn’t shy about carrying the program’s hopes. So far, he has been as good as advertised for the Fighting Illini and shown the ability to take over games.
Romeo Langford, Fr., G: He has lived up to the hype that comes with being one of the nation’s top freshman and a likely one-and-done prospect. While he has struggled with his 3-point shot, he’s the engine that drives Indiana’s offense and is difficult to slow down.
Jordan Bohannon, Jr., G: A third-year starter, he’s the only player in the nation to record at least 150 assists and 80 made 3-pointers as a freshman and a sophomore in the past 25 years.
Jalen Smith, Fr., F: Indiana’s Romeo Langford and Michigan’s Ignas Brazdeikis might be receiving most of the attention for Big Ten freshman of the year, but don’t overlook Smith, who is averaging 12.1 points and 7.1 rebounds.
Zavier Simpson, Jr., G: The running and gunning days under coach John Beilein are over. Now, it’s all about locking and shutting down opponents and nobody embodies that approach quite like the feisty point guard.
Joshua Langford, Jr., G: He has stepped into a larger role and formed a dynamic backcourt duo with fellow junior Cassius Winston. But with Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. no longer around, the Spartans can ill afford to have Langford disappear in games.
Amir Coffey, Jr., G: While he might go overlooked after missing 14 games last season with a right shoulder injury, it’s hard to forget about the former All-Big Ten freshman’s talent. This year, he has taken on more ball-handling responsibilities and has thrived at point guard, where his size (6-foot-8) and skill have proved problematic for opposing defenses.
Isaiah Roby, Jr., F: Part of the Cornhuskers’ core four who returned from last season, he creates problems for opponents with his ability to stretch the floor on the wing while being able to effectively defend bigger Big Ten centers.
Vic Law, Sr., F: The Wildcats needed him to become more of a consistent offensive threat and he has answered the call. A go-to scorer, Law has taken the next step and is averaging a team-high 17.9 points, nearly six points more than last season.
Kaleb Wesson, So., C: Building off a solid freshman campaign, Wesson is doing his part to help the Buckeyes offset the loss of Big Ten player of the year Keita Bates-Diop by logging more minutes and taking on more of the scoring load.
Lamar Stevens, Jr., F: He has embraced being the go-to guy for the Nittany Lions, averaging a whopping 23 points and 8.7 rebounds in 37 minutes per game. Stevens has even scored twice as much (138 total points) as the team’s second-leading scorer Josh Reaves (65 points).
Ryan Cline, Sr., G: Preseason All-American Carsen Edwards garners much of the attention and deservedly so. But for a team that lost three perimeter scorers, Cline has helped fill that void and has emerged as the top 3-point threat, an area that makes the Boilermakers so dangerous.
Geo Baker, So., G: As the team’s top shooter, passer and ball-handler, the Scarlet Knights will go as he goes. Baker hasn’t been shy about grabbing the reins and has made a huge jump, averaging 15.3 points and 5.2 assists in 34.7 minutes while shooting 47.1 percent from the floor.
Brad Davison, So., G: He played through pain most of last season with an injured left shoulder but now that he’s healthy, he’s become even more of a nuisance and pest with his gritty style of play.