Connor Cagley, Big Sports Radio Basketball Writer
September 19, 2022
Let's take a look at the Top 5 Power Forwards 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 bottom of the article for links).
Dawson Garcia is playing for his third team in three years after completing his freshman year at Marquette and subsequently leaving North Carolina midway through last year. While Minnesota will be a young team at most positions, he will instill some veteran leadership and will be counted on to be the main scoring option.
Garcia is another big man who can stretch the floor from three as he averages over 36.2% for his career. The next step for his game to take for him to be in the upper echelon of Big Ten players is to become better on the defensive end of the court. At 6’11”, he will need to provide more of a shot blocking presence, something he hasn’t shown thus far in his collegiate career.
He may not experience as much team success at Minnesota this year as he did at North Carolina the year prior, but this will be a good place for him to learn how to be a featured player.
Matt Mayer was a key piece for the Baylor Bears in their championship game two years ago. He was also pivotal in Baylor becoming a #1 seed before they were upset by UNC last year. This year, he will be a much needed upgrade for Illinois at power forward as they have been missing size at this position for years.
Despite the boost in size, Illinois’ offense will still be able to space their offense out as Mayer averaged 9.8 points and 5 rebounds in 22.8 minutes per game. Offensively, it may not seem like a lot, but it compares very favorably to the production Illinois has been getting out of the power forward position. Defensively is where he will provide the most upside as he is very comfortable switching on to guards and other wings. Players that are 6’9” rarely provide the value he provides in transition.
Similar to Murray and Scott, Tyler Wahl plays the power forward role where he takes advantage of his size over his defenders. Unlike the prior two, his three ball hasn’t gone down at any point during his college career thus far. That said, he has good form and he shoots well from the free throw line and shot 51.6% from the field, so there’s hope that it will eventually come.
Even if it doesn’t, he will find ways to bully players near the hoop. Without Johnny Davis this year, Wahl is another who will have to find a way to step up and be “the man.” Without a three point shot, that will be tough to do. Count on Wisconsin to find ways to get him the ball where he’s comfortable.
As a team, Maryland underwhelmed on the court last year compared to expectations. Partly, this was due to losing their coach. One of the positives, however, was Scott stepping up on the court. Scott averaged 12.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game and has been a “do it all” player.
Scott can guard the five if the Terrapins go small ball. For a big man, he’s versatile on switches onto guards and wings. It would not be surprising to see him end up on the all-defensive team.
Offensively, he’ll need to step up and take a larger burden this year, so his efficiency scoring the ball will be pivotal. Specifically, his three point shooting needs to step up closer to his sophomore level of 43.8% versus 29.1% last year. If he can fix that, he’ll be the total package on that end of the court.
Kris Murray is the brother of top five draft pick Keegan Murray. Keegan broke out last year due to having strong perimeter skills for a guy his size. Kris will have an opportunity to display the same growth and will likely be the number one option for the Hawkeyes this year.
He shot 38.7% from the three last year which is good for a player his size. Last year, he only played 17.9 minutes per game, and an argument could be made that Iowa would have been better off giving him playing time.
How Kris’ season is judged will rest on if he can create his own shot off the dribble. While his brother averaged 23.5 points per game, that’s a lofty goal for any player. Look for him to put up 17 to 20 points a game.
Top B1G Freshmen: