Big Ten M5: 10.08.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on October 8th, 2012

  1. The countdown to Jabari Parker’s final commitment continues. Parker, who is arguably the best high school recruit for the incoming 2013-14 season, has narrowed his list of schools to the final five and only one Big Ten team will be on his mind over the next month, Michigan State. The other four schools include BYU, Florida, Duke and Stanford. Michigan State’s head coach Tom Izzo is not known for recruiting the typical “one-and-done” player but Parker may be one of the best high school talents known in recent years. The high school senior will schedule on campus visits with each of the five schools and is expected to commit by the end of November. Parker averaged 19.5 PPG, 8.9 RPG and 4.9 APG at Simeon Career Academy of Chicago last season.
  2. Illinois’ athletic director Mike Thomas is under immense pressure this season because he replaced both of the head coaches of the major sports – football and basketball. Even though Illinois football is off to a 2-4 start and has not caught the fans’ attention, he hopes that the basketball coach, John Groce, can turn the attitude around rather quickly. Groce has clearly impressed the Orange Krush with his recruiting abilities by bringing in Kendrick Nunn for next season, but he is preaching toughness for the upcoming year. Groce has been pushing the current guards to be in “attack” mode and has been specifically focused on senior guard Brandon Paul to become more consistent. Paul averaged 14.7 PPG and 4.7 RPG as a junior but he needs to show more consistency if the Illini hope to turn it around after a disappointing season that did not even result in an NIT appearance. Illinois averaged 65.4 possessions per game during the Big Ten and Groce hopes to field a much quicker and faster team which will push the tempo of the game.
  3. President Obama’s love for basketball and his pickup games with various stars of the game has been well publicized over the years, but he is taking his game to the Big Ten country now. The Badger basketball squad spent five minutes with the President last week during his trip to Wisconsin and were promised a pick-up game after the election. Redshirt freshman point guard George Marshall helped organize the meeting by getting some help from his former high school teammates’ father who works with the President. Zach Bohannon, a redshirt junior, started the buzz about the meeting on Twitter. Marshall is one of the new faces that hopes to step into Jordan Taylor’s shoes to take over point guard duties. He averaged 17.3 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 5.4 APG during his senior season of high school in Chicago. Wisconsin does not have an experienced true point guard on the roster and Marshall ought to fill that role of running an efficient half court offense for Bo Ryan.
  4. Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft of Ohio State have been hyped for the upcoming season and will continue to remain the primary contributors of the Buckeyes throughout the season. But junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. has the opportunity to become a consistent second scoring option in this offense and certainly has the talent to take over games if needed. Smith has been working on his game during the offseason and appears to be very comfortable with his role as he hopes to fill in the void left by Jared Sullinger. Even though Smith averaged only 6.8 PPG and 4.6 RPG last season, he showed flashes of brilliance during certain key contests. Against Indiana, he scored 28 points and went off for 17 against Michigan. He has the shooting range and athleticism to succeed in Thad Matta’s offense as the Buckeyes appear to be one of the contenders to win the Big Ten again.
  5. Penn State’s football team has found its rhythm after an 0-2 start and seems to be one of the contenders to finish strong in a weakened Big Ten. The basketball team also seems to be in high spirits as Pat Chambers continues to mold the program by instilling toughness and more importantly, pushing the team for consistency. Football coach Bill O’ Brien will continue to act as the face of Penn State athletics in the media’s eyes due to the negative publicity of the Penn State football program, but Chambers may be the backbone and strong foundation that the athletic program needs during these times. Senior guard Tim Frazier is a good start as he has the ability to lead his team to a solid Big Ten season. Frazier stuffed the stat sheet last season by averaging 18.8 PPG, 6.2 APG and 4.7 RPG.
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