Introducing the B1G All-Freshman team: Non-Conference EditionPosted by Brendan Brody on December 31st, 2013
In the first two months of the B1G season, many freshman have debuted to largely mixed results. Coming into the season, there were 13 freshmen in the league who made the top 100 of the recruiting services consensus index, and some have had a greater impact than others so far. What follows is the five best of the bunch as we head into league play starting this afternoon.
- Noah Vonleh, Indiana (12.0 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 56.3% FG). Vonleh has been the best Big Ten freshman by far in the non-conference season. He’s leading the conference in rebounding, and is getting it done on both the offensive and defensive backboards. He’s especially good at grabbing defensive rebounds, doing so at a rate of 29.3 percent (good for eighth in the country). Indiana has struggled to keep him involved in the offense, but he’s shooting a high percentage despite getting many of his points from put backs and trips to the free throw line. If Indiana wants to get off of the bubble and ensure another NCAA Tournament appearance, Vonleh has to be a bigger part of the offense.
- Bryson Scott, Purdue (9.7 PPG, 1.3 SPG). Scott has fit in rather nicely as a complement to the Johnson brothers pairing at the guard spot for the Boilermakers. He’s shown a strong ability to pressure the ball on defense, where he’s getting steals at the sixth best rate in the conference (4.2%), and he’s also done a nice job in being aggressive and drawing fouls, doing so at the second best rate in the league. He’s already led Purdue in steals seven times and scoring four times, despite only playing 17.5 minutes per game. Matt Painter has played its freshman class a decent amount this season, but Scott has been the player making the greatest impact.
- Jaylon Tate, Illinois (3.0 APG, 3.55 A/TO). Tate has slowed down a bit lately with the re-emergence of Tracy Abrams, but he has had some really good games early this season. This triggered some debate among Illini fans as to whether he should be getting more minutes, and while he’s still far away from being considered a serious shooting threat, his assist rate (31.2%) and corresponding A:TO rate are simply off the charts. Like Purdue, Illinois has a deep freshman class where Tate has made the most impact to this point in the season.
- Troy Williams, Indiana (7.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.3 SPG). The early play of Williams has drawn some comparisons to Victor Oladipo for his athleticism and defensive abilities. While this may only be commentator hyperbole, the Hoosiers’ freshman has demonstrated that he can get steals and finish with highlight-reel dunks much like last year’s lottery pick. He also does a decent job rebounding the ball and gives Indiana some flexibility with his ability to lock down opponents’ wings. With a more consistent perimeter game, Williams could be a huge difference-maker in the second half of the season for Indiana.
- Sanjay Lumpkin, Northwestern (4.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 50.0% FG). Lumpkin has been a glue guy for the Wildcats after redshirting last year. He doesn’t really do anything particularly great, but he knows his role and has had a decent impact playing off the ball and letting Drew Crawford and JerShon Cobb use the majority of the teams’ possessions. When he does take advantage of his small number of shot opportunities, he has a nice eFG of 56.8 percent. Lumpkin gets the last spot right now because he knows who he is and doesn’t try to do too much to the detriment of his team. He’s second on the team in rebounding and tied for the team lead in steals. Chris Collins has to be pleased that he’s found a nice building block for the program’s future.
Others who could move up: Derrick Walton Jr., Michigan; Tai Webster, Nebraska; Peter Jok, Iowa; Devin Davis, Indiana; Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin; Zak Irvin, Michigan.