Last season, Zach Edey had a remarkable season at Purdue. He won National Player of the Year and Big Ten Player of the Year. Now, he is back for his senior season and continues to dominate. But this does not mean he is a shoo-in to win the award. With a league full of talent, who can challenge Edey for Big Ten Player of the Year? There are four players that I think have a shot to dethrone him.
Who Can Challenge Zach Edey for Big Ten Player of the Year?
Over his five seasons at Northwestern, Boo Buie has continued to improve each year. Last year, he was a First-Team All-Conference selection, and he can jump to Big Ten Player of the Year this season. Buie is averaging over 18 points per game, around a point more than last season. He is also averaging more assists. But, his real improvement has come from his increased efficiency. His field goal percentage has improved by nearly 5% this season, and his three-point percentage has improved by almost 4%. He is no longer just a volume shooter; he has become more selective with his shots, which has helped improve Northwestern. If the Wildcats can push for a top-three finish in the conference, Buie could see himself winning the Big Ten Player of the Year.
Jahmir Young is having a very similar season to Buie. They are both elite guards who are the do-it-all guys for their teams. However, Young does everything slightly better. After his 36-point explosion against Northwestern on Wednesday night, Young now averages over 20 points and 24 points per game in conference play. Young is also averaging 4.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.5 steals. The only problem is his team. Maryland has had a disappointing season so far. If the Terps can turn things around and make a push for March Madness, then Young has a chance to win Big Ten Player of the Year.
After the loss of Terrence Shannon Jr., it seemed like a lost season for Illinois. But Marcus Domask has stepped up in his absence and can challenge for Big Ten Player of the Year. In Big Ten games without Shannon, Domask is averaging 22 points per game. He has become Illinois’ number one scoring option. If he can limit turnovers and improve defensively, I think he has a real shot to challenge Edey for the award.
Michigan State was highly ranked coming into the season. After stumbling out the gate, the Spartans started to turn things around. A big reason for this is due to the play of Tyson Walker. He has been the do-everything guy for Michigan State. He averages 20 points per game, as well as 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals. However, Walker and Young both have similar problems: they are not winning enough. But, with Tom Izzo, Michigan State is never out of it. If the Spartans can string a few wins together and finish highly in the conference, Walker could win Big Ten Player of the Year.
The Last Word
Due to a mix of Edey’s success and Purdue’s team success, it seems unlikely that anyone will beat Edey for Big Ten Player of the Year. He scores more points, plays better defense, and is a better teammate this season. Of the four candidates, Domask is most likely to win the award. This is because his team has the best chance to challenge for the conference title, and team success is always an important factor in determining awards.