With the college season now just a single day away, the Big Ten microsite got together and voted for the various Big Ten awards and how we thought the standings would shake out. Earlier this week we released our All-Big Ten Second Team, and today, we reveal who we believe to the be the five best players in the conference. Be sure to also check out the other preseason prediction pieces we’ve released choosing our top sixth men, Freshman of the Year and the conference standings (#12 to #9; #8 to #5) before the games get started for real on Friday night.
Here’s our preseason All-Big Ten First Team:
Gary Harris, Sophomore, Michigan State 6’4″ 210 lbs (12.9 PPG, 1.4 SPG, 45.6% FG, 41.1% 3FG). Gary Harris and Michigan State have the chance at a special season. He was the only unanimous selection to the first team by the Big Ten microsite writers, and we already covered his potential to be the conference’s Player of the Year this season. He was considered a lottery pick had he left for the NBA after last season, and now he appears to be injury-free for the first time in his collegiate career. If the sophomore can find a way to create more of his own scoring opportunities and get to the foul line more often to round out his game, he will be sitting on top of the conference from both an individual and a team basis.
Mitch McGary, Sophomore, Michigan, 6’10” 255 lbs. (7.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 59.8% FG). There are two big questions surrounding Mitch McGary right now. The first is when will McGary return to the court from his back problems? The second is if what we saw during the NCAA Tournament last season is something he will be able to sustain? During that magical run to the national title game, the sophomore big man made quite the impact and showed the promise that had him flirting with leaving for the NBA Draft. The early thinking on whether he can keep that going is yes, as McGary has been named to the Oscar Robertson trophy preseason watch list. If the burly center gets 100 percent healthy and continues to dominate in the paint and score at a high level like he did during last March, he’ll be a huge asset as the two teams from the Great Lakes State battle for the Big Ten banner.