Connor Cagley, Big Sports Radio Basketball Writer
September 8, 2022
Let's take a look at the Top 5 Point Guards in the B1G. For this discussion, we're not going to slide a freshman into the Top 5 because there is no statistical evidence that I can use as a base to predict their performance. I also have specific articles rating the B1G freshmen as well (see links at the bottom of the page).
Jaelin Llewellyn is going to be making his debut in the Big Ten conference after playing his first three seasons at Princeton. Last season, he averaged 15.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. Similar to Michigan’s point guards from the past two seasons, Llewellyn is going to be a steady upperclassmen transfer who can be relied upon to not make mistakes, to hit open shots, and to be a leader on the court for younger players.
Similar to Xavier Johnson his prior season seems to be an outlier compared to his college career as he shot 38.6% from the three during his junior year and prior to that his highest percentage was 30.8%. It will be instrumental for him to shoot closer to his junior year number despite the jump in competition.
Chuck Hepburn came into last season as an unknown to most, but showed throughout the season that he was a hidden gem in that recruiting class. While most of the offensive burden fell to Jonathon Davis last year, Hepburn was able to play a low usage offensive role. He didn’t shoot particularly high overall from the field. A lot of that is due to the high percentage of threes that made up the majority of his shots. He shot 34.8% from the three on over 100 attempts which gives a good baseline as to what level of a shooter he will be moving forward.
It seems likely Hepburn will be one of Wisconsin’s top two options offensively, and with that will come the pressure to perform. It’s unlikely he will have a jump like Davis last season, but Hepburn should be a fairly safe bet to average double digit points while leading the team in assists.
Arguably the most physical guard in the conference, AJ Hoggard is going to be a very important piece for this Michigan State squad. As last season was coming to a close, Hoggard was playing some of his best basketball. His averages of 7 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists aren’t necessarily the most impressive stats, but he did that in just 20 minutes of play. With Tyson Walker sliding to the starting shooting guard position, it’s likely AJ will be getting closer to 30 minutes a game this season.
The biggest hole in his game is his lack of outside shooting. He shot 20.3% from the three last season. It’s hard to see him shooting much worse than that. Hoggard seems to be the best leader as he fires up the rest of the team, gets the ball moving, and is without a doubt the best facilitator on the Spartans roster.
After averaging 12.1 points, 5 assists, and 3.8 rebounds as a junior, Xavier Johnson will be counted on even more for the Hoosiers as a senior. He’s one of the better defensive guards in the conference and each season he’s cut down on turnovers, which shows his willingness to put in extra time during the off season. Of all the players on Indiana’s roster that were on the team last year, Johnson has the highest percentage from deep. This will arguably be the most important category for him as a whole.
Last season he was able to take his 3 point shooting from 32.1% to 38.3%. So far in his career, his junior year shooting is an outlier, but the team will be counting on him to keep it up in order to keep as much spacing as possible around their bigs.
Jalen Pickett is likely to be the best player in the Big Ten that nobody knows about. After his transfer from Sienna, Pickett averaged 13.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game for Penn State last year. He did this while averaging 37 minutes per game which shows how much the Nittany Lions value him on the court. At 6’4” he’s large for a guard, which makes his presence felt on defense.
While he doesn’t have a lot of talent around him on the Penn State roster, he makes the most of it. In his second year under Micah Shrewsberry, they will be getting an influx of young talent and he will be looked to as a leader. Offensively, this team isn’t going to be blowing anybody out. With this in mind, most of their work will be done on the defensive end, and with Pickett’s leadership and grit they should be able to grind out more wins in conference compared to last year.
Top B1G Freshmen: