Corey Sanders, the former 4-star recruit, came to the banks with high expectations for his freshman season. And while his rookie campaign has had some ups and downs, his overall performance on the court has been a resounding success. However, Sanders was surprisingly not named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team by both the coaches and the media tonight.
Talent abound, the future is #B1G and bright. pic.twitter.com/qbN0fvqSst— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) March 7, 2016
Sanders led all Big Ten freshman in scoring, averaging 16.2 points per game, including eight games where he scored 20 or more points. Sanders was second in the conference for freshman with 4.3 assists per game and led the entire conference with 1.8 steals per game. For the entire Big Ten, Sanders finished in the top ten for scoring, assists, and steals. That is not a mistake, read that again. THE ENTIRE BIG TEN! He was named Freshman of the Week for the conference twice during the season. He set career highs in points, assists, and rebounds for a game in a triple overtime loss to Illinois, when he scored 39 points, dished out 12 assists and grabbed 8 rebounds.
During a three game stretch from February 3rd to February 13th, Sanders averaged 30 points, 6.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.3 steals in losses to Illinois, Nebraska, and Ohio State. Unfortunately, Sanders was then suspended for two weeks due to a violation in team rules, missing the next four games. It was very disappointing, as he was coming into his own on the court and seemed to be becoming a leader for the team off it. Setbacks happen with young players, but it left Rutgers without their best player during the most winnable part of the Big Ten schedule. Since his return in the last two games, Sanders has averaged 15.5 points, 6 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.5 steals.
It is a travesty that Sanders was not named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team. The stats speak for itself. His recent performance against Michigan State, with Big Ten Player of the Year Denzel Valentine covering him for stretches, was impressive. It was his first game back after missing two weeks from the suspension and he was the main reason Rutgers went toe to toe with #2 Michigan State in the first half. He didn't miss a beat.
The two biggest reasons for the egregious snub were likely that four game suspension and the fact that Rutgers went 1-17 in conference play. The argument that Sanders wouldn't have put up the type of numbers that he did on a better team was made quite a bit during the season. However, leaving him off the team entirely is absurd. Don't get me wrong, Ethan Happ deserved Freshman Player of the Year. But Sanders belonged on the team with him. There is some small consolation in that Sanders was one of twelve players named honorable mention by the media after the first, second, and third teams. The coaches snubbed Sanders completely.
It should be no surprise that Sanders favorite player is Allen Iverson, as he styles his game after the fearless and ultra quick NBA legend. Sanders has easily been the best part of an otherwise nightmare season for Rutgers. Hopefully, Sanders learns from his suspension and decides to return for his sophomore season, seeking revenge on the entire league!! His return would continue to give Rutgers fans hope that better days are ahead.
Sanders Return from Suspension against #2 Michigan State
Corey Sanders is back, all right.— Rutgers On BTN (@RutgersOnBTN) March 3, 2016
Check out this sequence for the @RutgersMBB star freshman. https://t.co/LDi0aU3AJJ
The Shot That Was The #1 Play Of The Night On SportsCenter
Rutgers suspends star freshman Corey Sanders for two weeks for a violation of team rules. https://t.co/yizEaiUS3x https://t.co/t5AN1XalmL— Brent Yarina (@BTNBrentYarina) February 15, 2016
Sanders Throws Down a Dunk Against Michigan
Up, up and away! @RutgersMBB's Corey Sanders throws down a breakaway one-handed slam. Wow! https://t.co/7Jpg0h7qDc— Rutgers On BTN (@RutgersOnBTN) January 28, 2016
Sanders against Ohio State
Corey Sanders hauls in pass and hammers home @RutgersMBB dunk. https://t.co/K039DIiPAT— Rutgers On BTN (@RutgersOnBTN) February 13, 2016