Player of the Year: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
When I went to make this pick, I had it in my mind that I was going with Draymond Green as the Big Ten’s Player of the Year. I really did. But once I actually say down to try and argue why Sullinger didn’t deserve the award, I couldn’t justify it. Look, the big fella has not had the season that many people expected him to, but its not necessarily his fault. Part of what made Sully so effective last season was how difficult it was to guard him and Ohio State’s perimeter attack. With William Buford’s inconsistency, teams have been able to focus more of their attention on Sullinger without fear of getting burned. And Sullinger still averaged 16.9 ppg and 9.3 rpg. Was OSU disappointing this year? Somewhat, yes. But that doesn’t fall on Sullinger’s shoulders.
Coach of the Year: Tom Izzo, Michigan State
Some of the luster on this pick was lost as the Spartans gave away their outright Big Ten title with losses in their last two games. That said, think about where this team was supposed to be coming into the year? They lost their starting back court to graduation and their senior leader to bad knees. And they are going to earn a two-seed in the tournament after winning a share of the Big Ten title. Impressive.
Rookie of the Year: Trey Burke, Michigan
Ugh. This was not an easy choice. Cody Zeller did so much for Indiana this season, anchoring the first Indiana team to be relevant in what feels like a decade. It is noteworthy. He’s one of the five best freshmen in the country. It just so happens that there is another top five freshman in the Big Ten, and it just so happens that Burke played an even more influential role in getting Michigan from last year’s NCAA Tournament bubble to a share of the Big Ten title this season.
Sixth-Man of the Year: Ben Brust, Wisconsin
Brust almost gets this award by default. Coaches in the Big Ten seem to be pretty good at putting their best players into their starting lineup or starting them enough times that it feels weird picking them as sixth-man of the year (ahem, Will Sheehey). Brust has come off the bench every single game for Wisconsin, and while he averages just 7.7 ppg, he’s caught fire and carried the Badgers in wins over UNLV and BYU.
Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Craft, Ohio State
Craft is the best on-ball defender in the country. He makes life a living hell for opposing point guards. If any of you read Luke Winn’s Power Rankings, you know how the kind of turnover machine that Craft is.
All-Big Ten First Team
POY: Jared Sullinger, So., Ohio State
G: Trey Burke, Fr., Michigan
G: John Shurna, Sr. Northwestern
F: Robbie Hummel, Sr. Purdue
F: Draymond Green, Sr., Michigan State
C: Cody Zeller, Fr., Indiana
All-Big Ten Second Team
G: Aaron Craft, So., Ohio State
G: Tim Frazier, Sr., Penn State
G: Jordan Taylor, Sr., Wisconsin
F: Deshaun Thomas, So., Ohio State
C: Meyers Leonard, So., Illinois