Tipoff: Beat writer Scott Richey's preseason top 10 conference players

Tipoff: Beat writer Scott Richey's preseason top 10 conference players

1. Carsen Edwards, Purdue

Edwards has already shown he can score, finishing in double figures in 34 of 37 games last season with a career high 40-point effort in a win at Illinois. Now the rising junior guard has to show he can run the Purdue offense, too, after P.J. Thompson manned the point last season.

2. Ethan Happ, Wisconsin

Happ’s game is a mish mash of the “ideal” big-man profile. His ball handling and passing skills came in handy last season when he ended up regularly running the point, but he’s a career 9 percent three-point shooter. Happ is both limited and dominant at the same time.

3. Juwan Morgan, Indiana

The Hoosiers’ returning leading scorer was an All-Big Ten Second Team selection in 2017-18, but the 6-foot-7 forward will likely receive some votes as the preseason player of the year heading into 2018-19. His 16.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game should both improve.

4. James Palmer Jr., Nebraska

Palmer could have gone the same route as Andrew White III — transfer to Nebraska, sit out and then put together a breakout season that opens doors elsewhere as a graduate transfer. White left for Syracuse. Palmer opted to stay in Lincoln after his All-Big Ten First Team season.

5. Jordan Murphy, Minnesota

While Murphy might be “undersized” as a power forward, it hasn’t exactly slowed down his production. The 6-7 forward had 24 double-doubles last season to lead the Big Ten — averaging 16.8 points and 11.3 rebounds — and has 51 in 97 career games for the Golden Gophers.

6. Charles Matthews, Michigan

The Wolverines got a serious boost when Matthews pulled his name from the NBA draft given they’d already lost Moe Wagner, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson. His likely larger role should see him better his 13 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game from last season.

7. Romeo Langford, Indiana

Could the five-star guard belong higher on this list? Sure, he’s the top 2018 prospect in the Big Ten and among the top five in the class as a whole after averaging 35.5 points and 9.9 rebounds as a high school senior and Indiana Mr. Basketball winner. 

8. Cassius Winston, Michigan State

Winston wasn’t the highest profile Michigan State player last season, but his production outweighs his profile when it comes to just how important he was for the Spartans. He averaged 12.6 points and led the Big Ten (ranking eighth nationally) at 6.9 assists per game.

9. Nick Ward, Michigan State

Think, for a moment, what Ward would be able to do with more than the 18.9 minutes per game he played last season. A crowded Spartans’ backcourt will be less so this coming season, meaning Ward might get a little closer to his per 40 numbers — 26.3 points and 15 rebounds per game.

10. Anthony Cowan, Maryland

Cowan will have fewer known quantities to work with in 2018-19 given Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson decamping for the NBA draft and Dion Wiley’s transfer to Saint Louis. His production has to increase, but a stacked 2018 recruiting class, though, gives Cowan some new options.