Last week, Big Ten Country took a look at the top performers in the backcourt and offered some early opinions on the all-conference picks. This week it's time to do the same on the frontcourt.
The league is not as deep in quality forwards and post players as it is in guards. But there are still some noteworthy players and they are led up by the trio of Jamelle Cornley (Penn State), DeShawn Sims (Michigan) and Evan Turner (Ohio State).
Cornley is the leader of the pack right now, and would get my vote for MVP if the season ended today. His last seven games have seen him in double figures and he's been explosive, going over 20 in three of them. He's averaging 7.5 rebounds per game in Big Ten play. And most importantly, he's the sole inside threat on a team that is unexpectedly challenging for the NCAA Tournament as we get to Super Bowl weekend.
Sims and Turner have similar resumes. Both have hit double figures seven times in eight league games. They both trail Cornley a little bit in rebounding, and in terms of how explosive their scoring is. But Sims has been Michigan's most consistent player. And Turner is someone I always keep looking at when I pick the "Player of the Sequence" each week. There's always been someone else who's just a little bit better in each particular sequence of games, but Turner's constancy has not gone unnoticed here.
To me, these three would all be All-Conference if we choose three frontcourt players. Now of course last week, I chose three backcourt players, so who knows how it will play out once the season is over. But Cornley would be in no matter what, and I'd give a slight lean to Turner over Sims as the second pick. Whether the Michigan forward makes the first team would be dependent on whether we choose to use a three-guard or three-forward offense at ballot time.
The player who is clearly the most likely to break into the top tier is Michigan State's Raymar Morgan. Arguably the top player in the conference, he's hit the skids the last three games, slowed considerably by a flu bug. And the value of MSU's center Goran Suton has to be noted. Michigan State's early losses to North Carolina and Maryland came when he was out. Suton doesn't score enough to be first-team All-Conference and while he's had some dominant rebounding games, there have been other occassions when he was AWOL. But he is the best pure center in a league whose post presence has diminished markedly over the years.
Purdue has a potentially terrific tandem in Robbie Hummel and JaJuan Johnson. Hummel's been slowed by nagging injuries and not hit the form that made him All-Confence last year. Johnson's had some very strong games, and at 6-10 is a potentially dominant shotblocker. He just needs to be more consistent.
No one is hotter right now than Northwestern's Kevin Coble. He's scored 72 points the last three games, including his epic 31-point night in the upset of Michigan State. But he doesn't rebound enough to be a top tier guy. A similar story applies to Wisconsin's Marcus Landry and Illinois' Mike Davis.
We'll give honorable mention to Indiana's Tom Pritchard. A long way from the top, he's still delivered consistent double-digit outings to Tom Crean in IU's lost season.