I was included in SB Nation’s All-Big Ten Honors voting this season and decided to publish my own ballot here. I gave my honest take on how I saw things within the conference this season, not from a Scarlet colored glasses view. The official All-Big Ten Honors voted on by the coaches and media will be announced Monday night at 5 p.m. ET on BTN.
Player of the Year - Cassius Winston, Michigan State
Carsen Edwards and Ethan Happ are great players in their own right, but Winston is so versatile and led Michigan State to splitting the conference championship with Purdue without it’s second and third best players.
Freshman of the Year - Ignas Brazdeikis, Michigan
Iggy had a tremendous year for the Wolverines and helped fill the void of Moe Wagner in a big way, averaging about 15 points, 5 rebounds and 42% from three-point range.
Defensive Player of the Year - Josh Reaves, Penn State
The 6’5” senior averaged 2.5 steals and 1.0 block per game, while shutting down the opponent’s best guard on a regular basis, which Rutgers fans saw in both meetings.
Sixth Man of the Year - Xavier Tillman, Michigan State
Tillman was the sixth man until Nick Ward got injured five games ago. His production and efficiency off the bench has been great and he would have started all season for any other team in the league.
Coach of the Year - Matt Painter, Purdue
Painter lost four starters from last season’s team and still split the conference title with Michigan State. They started the year at 6-5 and are 17-3 since, in addition to going 16-4 in Big Ten play. Steve Pikiell was a clear second and if they had finished in 8th place, I would have voted for him.
All-Big Ten First Team
Cassius Winston (MSU); Ethan Happ (Wisconsin); Bruno Fernando (Maryland); Carsen Edwards (Purdue); Ignas Brazdeikis (Michigan)
Aside from the three player of the year candidates, the freshman of the year was that good and a game changer for Michigan, while Fernando might be the most improved player in the league.
All-Big Ten Second Team
Lamar Stevens (PSU); Jordan Murphy (Minnesota); Zavier Simpson (Michigan); Nick Ward (Michigan State); James Palmer (Nebraska)
Stevens and Palmer are more straight scorers but carried both their teams this season. Murphy and Ward are so important for their teams inside and Simpson is so well-rounded and a tremendous defender.
All-Big Ten Third Team
Amir Coffey (Minnesota); Tyler Cook (Iowa); Eugene Omoruyi (Rutgers); Juwan Morgan (Indiana); Anthony Cowan (Maryland)
I almost put Cowan on the second team and felt Cook, Coffey, and Morgan all had good, but not great seasons. Omoruyi’s scoring average of 13.7 points per game is 1 point higher if you take out the Ohio State and Iowa games when he scored 2 points combined due to his knee injury. He is the heart and soul of Rutgers and with 7.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists, he has well rounded numbers to warrant inclusion. I do think he will be named an Honorable Mention selection by the coaches and media later on Monday.
Ignas Brazdeikis (Michigan); Jalen Smith (Maryland); Romeo Langford (Indiana); Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois); Daniel Oturo (Minnesota)
I know Rutgers fans will hope for one of the freshman four to make this team, but there are simply too many worthy candidates for any to pass this season. However, that shouldn’t make you any less excited about the future of the freshman class of Rutgers, who I believe all have All-Big Ten potential in their careers.
The Big Ten Tournament begins Wednesday with Rutgers vs. Nebraska at 6:30 p.m. ET and I’ll have a game preview on Tuesday.