An Early Look at the Big Ten POY CandidatesPosted by Max Jakubowski on December 6th, 2013
We are a little over one-fourth of the way through the season. Non-conference play lasts about another three weeks, and before you know it, New Year’s Eve will arrive and conference games will be here. The Big Ten Player of the Year award is of course won and lost during conference play, but let’s take a very early look at five players who have positioned themselves to possibly be among the favorites for the award (in alphabetical order).
- Keith Appling, Michigan State: Appling has two teammates in Gary Harris (now injured) and Adreian Payne who are also deserving of this award, but it has been the point guard who has done a little bit of everything for the Spartans this year. His impressive stat line of 16.9 PPG, 5.6 APG, 3.0 RPG and 52 percent from deep are conference POY numbers. Perhaps his most impressive performance was against then #1 Kentucky, exploding for 22 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in a consummate performance. If Appling continues to put up big games like that, he might be on track to become the second Spartans’ senior to win Big Ten POY in the last three years (Draymond Green was the other).
- Tim Frazier, Penn State: It is extremely hard for a player on a team with a losing record to take home the conference POY award, but Frazier could possibly accomplish that this season. He is only averaging 19.4 PPG, but expect that number to rise into the 20s by the time conference play is in full swing. The fifth-year senior is also averaging a league high 7.0 APG and that stat may be underrated too because Frazier will need to get his teammates active on the offensive end of the floor to open up more space for him to work with.
- Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin: The junior forward exploded onto the national scene with his 43-point performance against North Dakota earlier this month. Kaminsky, or “Special K,” is that typical lengthy and stretch shooting Badger forward that the Big Ten has come to know (see, for recent examples, Jared Berggren and Jon Leuer). An experienced Bo Ryan backcourt has really helped Kaminsky flourish in his first year starting for the Badgers, and continued strong contributions from his teammates could make Kaminsky a dark horse for this year’s award.
- Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa: Iowa’s whole offense runs through Marble and he is the clear driver to getting the Hawkeyes back to the NCAA Tournament this season. Marble runs point for Iowa and his 6’6” frame makes it easy for him to drive and absorb contact in the lane or kick it out to his perimeter shooters. The senior showed a glimpse of how special he is offensively, going for 24 and 30 points in back-to-back games at the Battle 4 Atlantis last week. Averaging 20 points a game is a realistic possibility for this Hawkeye.
- Nik Stauskas, Michigan: To an extent, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary have been disappointments this year. But never fear, the Canadian Stauskas is here to save the day! Last year, Stauskas was almost exclusively a three-point shooter, but this year he has combined his outside shooting with his athleticism to create his own shot and get to the rim more often. The sophomore has scored at least 20 points in six of his eight games and there is a realistic shot he could lead the Big Ten is scoring this season.
Obviously, there are and will be other deserving candidates like Ohio State’s Aaron Craft or Illinois’ Rayvonte Rice — at this early point, this list is not meant to be inclusive of everyone. But it’s great food for thought as we start to turn the corner and look forward to conference play beginning sooner than we’ll know it.