Connor Cagley, Big Sports Radio Basketball Writer
September 5, 2022
Time to discuss the best non-freshmen in the B1G conference. Here we go with 6-10!
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.
Justice Sueing missed all but two games last season due to an abdominal issue. This makes his future slightly more difficult to predict just based on whether or not he’ll stay healthy. When he was playing two years ago, he was the clear number two option to EJ Liddell at Ohio State.
This Ohio State team looks much different than the one he played on two years ago. Even with all the transfer players and new recruits they’ve added in this off season, Sueing is likely the #1 option offensively if he’s healthy. During his first year at Ohio State, he averaged 10.7 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 49% from the field and 36% from the three.
He’ll have his work cut out for him coming off an injury and having to pick up the slack left by Liddell after his departure to the NBA.
Similar to Kris Murray and Donta 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 went 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.
Defensively, he’s another who is good at switching onto guards and wings as primarily a big.
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.