This month on 'P.I. Pulse,’ Pro Insight’s Esayas Gebrekidan highlights over 100 college basketball players to watch after pouring through countless hours of film throughout the 2022-23 NCAA season and over the summer:
Ahead of last season, we analyzed a number of college basketball’s top returners and transfers via Film Study. Since it was a productive exercise and so well-received — we upped the ante this season. Over the next week, we’ll be publishing written analysis and video breakdowns on over 100 college players. Across each Power 6 conference and amidst Mid-Majors, who are the top returners? Transfers? How about those primed for a breakout season? We've got you covered. Stay tuned later this month for plenty of content on freshmen, as well.
With that said, let's get to it — we will continue with the Big Ten:
6’2” Guard | Northwestern | Senior
Buie has been one of Northwestern's most important pieces since taking on the full-time starting role as a sophomore. After earning All-Big Ten honors for his play last season, Buie has been named to the Bob Cousy Award Watch List and to the 2023-24 Preseason All-Big Ten Team.
Buie scores in a variety of ways but a majority of his offense is derived from pick-and-roll opportunities which allow him to get downhill as he surveys the floor. He does a great job coming off screens and bumping his man as he engages the help defender before finding teammates for lobs, dump-offs or catch-and-shoot looks.
At 6’2”, he has developed a floater, showing good touch while going against bigs looking to contest his shot. Although off-the-dribble threes accounted for a large chunk of his attempts from deep, he was much more effective as a stationary shooter or coming off screens in actuality, as he converted 43.1% on catch-and-shoot attempts and 40% of his 3s coming off screens.
7’4” Big | Purdue | Senior
Edey had a spectacular junior year, putting up 22.3 PPG, 12.9 RPG, 1.5 APG and 2.1 BPG on 60.7% FG and 73.4% FT. He produced career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals and ranked in the top-20 nationally in seven categories including #1 in double-doubles.
Edey uses his strength and frame to carve out space, buries his opponents deep into the paint and shows good touch as a finisher. He has done a great job finishing through contact and converting his free throw attempts. For his size, he has surprising mobility and plays well off the ball. He sets hard screens as he rolls to the rim. Edey does all of his work in the paint and although he hasn’t displayed a capability of spacing the floor, his ability to draw double and triple teams makes him just as lethal. The 1.5 APG does not command your attention, but his ability to find cutters and shooters out of double or triple teams forces defenses to make a choice.
Defensively, he held opponents to 38.7% FG at the rim. In addition to the 2.1 BPG, Edey altered plenty of additional shots in the paint throughout the season. On post-up attempts, opponents averaged .618 PPP, only converting 33% FG, finding it difficult to score through or over Edey. Averaging 7.4 defensive RPG, which ranked #11 nationally, he did a great job positioning himself, throwing his 300-pound frame around as he limited teams’ second-chance opportunities.
6’11” Forward | Minnesota | Junior
Heading into his second season with the Gophers, all eyes will be on Garcia. After transferring in from UNC following the 2021-22 season, Garcia put together a respectable campaign in which he averaged 15.3p-5.2r-2.2a, shooting 45.7% FG and 34.5% from 3.
Garcia brings good size and mobility, as well as an ability to space the floor and make plays off the dribble. He has shown he can score in a variety of ways, whether it's catch-and-shoot, off cuts or via posting up. His skill as a floor-spacer is one of his biggest assets to the Gophers. At 6'11”, Garcia thrives in ball screen situations with his ability to roll, pop or slip the screen.
Garcia connected on 46.2% in pick-and-pop 3 situations, which in turn forces bigs to play up at the point of the screen, opening the floor for his ability to slip the pick or set a screen and roll. His willingness to crash the glass is an important aspect of his game as well, allowing him to get easy buckets at the rim or second chance opportunities for his team as the defense scrambles.
6’4” Guard | Michigan State | Senior
In his third year in East Lansing, Hoggard became a full-time starter averaging 12.9p-3.7r-5.9a-1s on 32.9% 3FG (an 11% increase from his sophomore season!) and 80% FT — all career-highs. Named to the Preseason All-BigTen Team, he will look to build on his standout junior year and will have lofty expectations heading into the season.
Offensively, Hoggard has flourished as a facilitator, averaging 4.4 APG for his career. In pick-and-roll possessions, he gets downhill, collapses the defense and finds teammates on drive and kicks and dump-offs. He ranked #12 in the country in assists during the 2022-2023 season, assisting on nearly 40% of his teammates' field goals. On catch-and-shoot attempts from long range, he shot 36.7% 3FG, showing his ability to play off the ball and knock down stationary jumpers.
An excellent defender who moves really well laterally, Hoggard uses his big, strong frame to make opponents work on every possession. Last season, as the primary defender, he held opponents to 30% from 3, 30% from mid-range and 40.3% in the paint. He consistently comes up with deflections and plays vertically, showing feel and understanding for the game on the defensive end.
6’11” Big | Rutgers | Senior
In his second season as a full-time starter, Omoruyi nearly averaged a double-double at 13.2 PPG and 9.6 RPG (#20 in the country). He recorded 13 double-doubles on the year and showed he can be a force on both ends of the floor as he was named to the All-Big Ten Third Team.
Omoruyi shines in transition as a rim runner, leveraging his terrific blend of long strides, speed and a high motor. On the offensive glass, he averaged a career-high 3.1 offensive RPG in 2022-23, consistently crashing hard, earning second-chance opportunities for his team. He is still finding his flow in the post but has shown improvement with his touch around the rim. His ability to dominate the paint will be an unlock for him.
Defensively, Omoruyi thrives as a paint presence with his ability to block and contest shots near the rim as he finished the season ranked inside the top-20 nationally in BPG. Holding opponents to 33% FG at the rim, his instincts, physical presence, and athletic ability allow him to anticipate the timing of attempts while playing vertically. In the post, he does a great job making opponents work for the catch — from there, he holds his space, using his strong frame while allowing his teammates to focus on their own match-ups. He understands how to properly leverage his length, which allows him to play off guards and although he has averaged less than a steal per game throughout his college career, he does a great job netting deflections and breaking up plays.
Terrence Shannon, Jr.
6’6” Wing | Illinois | Senior
In 2022-23, Shannon helped lead the Illini back to the NCAA Tournament while averaging 17.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.8 APG and 1.3 SPG (all career-highs). He did not shoot the ball well from range last season, but his time at Texas Tech shows he is more than capable of shooting from distance as he shot 37% 3FG in his final two seasons there. His improvement as a playmaker was on full display throughout the season, as he averaged close to 3 APG. Numbers aside, from a practical standpoint, he helps initiate the offense and shows flashes of good decision making when breaking down the defense off the bounce.
On the defensive end, he has the size, frame, and tools to make a defensive impact. Historically, Shannon has shown he is capable of defending 1-through-4, really epitomizing defensive versatility. He moves well laterally, plays with active hands and brings some physicality as a defender.
6’1” Guard | Michigan State | Senior
Walker opted to return for a third season at Michigan State and should help make them a legitimate title contender. He has been instrumental in the Spartans’ success since transferring from Northeastern after the 2020-2021 season, contributing as a scorer, creator and defender.
Walker played more of a shooting guard role in his second season with MSU, but has the ability to slide into either backcourt spot. His shooting is his greatest asset — a career 39.4% 3FG shooter — and has connected on a blistering 43.5% of his 3s as a Spartan. Beyond shooting, his elite speed, shiftiness and ball handling allow him to get separation off the dribble. In pick-and-roll offense, he is patient and plays with pace as he sees the floor coming off the pick looking to make a play for himself or his teammates. Averaging a healthy 3.7 APG for his career, he has good court vision and BBIQ, regularly finding his teammates on drive-and-kicks and making the extra pass.
Walker is a great point of attack defender: he is scrappy, applies ball pressure, gets into his opponents, and forces turnovers. At 6’1”, he plays with a low center of gravity, possessing elite lateral movement and does a great job turning ball handlers. Off the ball, he does an effective job of locking and trailing and refuses to give his opponent any space as he meets him on the catch with active hands. His awareness and feel for the game stand out on this end of the floor — in gap coverage, he plays man and ball while playing the gaps, and can recover to close-out and defend the drive.
6’1” Guard | Maryland | Senior
Young is Maryland's top returner from a season ago, where he helped lead his team to an NCAA Tournament berth and first round win over West Virginia while averaging 15.8 PPG, 3.1 APG and 1.5 SPG on the year.
Young thrives as a ball handler in pick-and-roll situations where he shot 43.6% 3FG. Of his 107 assists in 2022-23, 45 came in pick-and-roll situations where he consistently made smart reads.
As the primary ball handler and a score-first guard, Young's ability to control the game is extremely important. With a high usage rate, it will be even more important for him to get his teammates more involved this season. As special as he is with the ball in his hands, he’s also proven to be a threat off the ball. In limited but very efficient possessions as a cutter, he converted 85.7% of the time. The attention required to play against him also helped to space the floor for his teammates, leading to many open looks.
6’1” Guard | Penn State | Senior
Baldwin didn't miss a start in his three seasons at VCU and in his final season was named the A-10 Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and won the conference tournament. Baldwin now heads to Penn State, along with his head coach from VCU, Mike Rhoades.
Baldwin is a leader, competitor and winner that plays with a ton of heart on both ends of the floor. A high-level playmaker with great court vision, he has averaged 5.2 APG during his time at VCU and ranked in the top-20 nationally over the last 2 seasons. Per Synergy, pick-and-roll possessions account for nearly half (46.2%) of Baldwin's offensive production. In these situations, he does a great job navigating the screen, allowing the play to develop and passing lanes to open as he delivers pocket passes or lobs on target. Throughout his career, Baldwin has maintained a 34.7% 3FG, during the 2022-2023 season, he was able to convert 43.2% of his catch-and-shoot attempts from deep, showing he can space the floor and add some equity off the ball when needed.
On the defensive end, he is a good point-of-attack defender and plays physical with opponents, making it difficult for them on a nightly basis. Off the ball, he is a good weak-side defender who is capable of playing and seeing man and ball, consistently tagging the roller and closing out to take away the shot while defending the drive. He does a great job locking and trailing his opponent and is there on the catch to apply ball pressure. Baldwin has great awareness and instincts, evidenced by his career average of 2.3 SPG, which he generates both on and off the ball.
6’7” Forward | Ohio State | Senior
With career averages of 14.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 1.0 APG on 34% 3FG and 42% FG, Battle has been a key contributor every season during his time at George Washington and most recently Minnesota. The most accomplished scorer on the Buckeyes heading into this season, Battle’s experience will play a pivotal role in the team’s success.
Although he shot just 31.1% from 3 last season, it is likely an outlier, since he’s shot in the mid-30s from range in each of the three seasons prior. Expect Battle to remain a valuable floor-spacing option in 2023-24. This will be an area that Ohio State will look to exploit as they play inside-out.
At 6’7” and 220 pounds, he is a strong defender, moves well laterally, can stay in front of opponents and guards up and down the lineup. His defensive value is especially evident when he defends in the post, as he makes bigs work for positioning, plays solid defense and plays vertical while holding opponents to 43.3% FG on post attempts.
6’8” Forward | Illinois | Senior
Programs love versatility in a player and Guerrier will provide that for the Illini this season. At 6’8”, Guerrier is a proven player who can fill multiple needs throughout a lineup. He has shown throughout his career that he can score both off the dribble or off the ball as a cutter. On cuts, he did a great job finishing at the rim in 2022-23 for Oregon, converting 61% of his 31 attempts.
Since his first collegiate season, he has consistently improved his three-point shooting percentage every year. He shot 12.5% 3FG as a freshman at Syracuse and was able to improve it to 34.7% in Eugene, last season. He is valuable in pick-and-pop situations as well, as he’s coming off a season in which he converted 50% 3FG in such actions. Additionally, he was able to knock down corner 3s at an impressive 52% clip.
Understanding his strengths, he limits his mid-range attempts and consistently spaces the floor in both the half court and in transition. This will be an aspect of his game that Illinois can look to exploit after shooting 30% 3FG as a team, last season. Guerrier’s activity on the offensive boards will continue to play a vital role to his team’s success as well, as he’s averaged 2 offensive boards per game for his career and converted 63% of his put-backs attempts, last season.
7’0 Big | Indiana | Sophomore
A consensus top-10 recruit in the class of 2022, Ware showed plenty of flashes of what he can provide a program as a freshman at Oregon. He is a skilled center who can play in the post, and has the ability to space the floor with his three-point shooting while providing rim protection and versatility on the defensive end. In his first collegiate season, he averaged 6.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 1.3 BPG on 45.7% FG and 27% 3FG in 15.8 MPG. When diving into Ware’s per36 projections, his statline theoretically balloons to 15.1 PPG, 9.3 RPG, and 2.9 BPG. This is the expectation for him going into his year at Indiana — a productive big who can make an impact on both ends of the floor.
Ware is a decent scorer in the post who understands positioning, but will need to get stronger and be able to finish through contact in order to maximize his potential. He does a great job screening and rolling hard to the rim where he is a lob threat, converting 70% FG on such plays. Last season, he displayed glimpses of his potential on the perimeter by making 27.5% of his pick-and-pop attempts, although he needs to improve his three-point shooting ability off the pops to warrant a larger quantity of attempts. At 7’0”, he does a good job getting his feet set and with his height and release point, it’s a tough shot to contest.
On the defensive end of the floor, he uses his length quite well. At Oregon, he showed he can play long and contest shots at the rim, while using his length on the perimeter to keep players in front.
Primed to Breakout
6’8” Forward | Ohio State | Senior
Key played a huge role for Ohio State as his game improved on both ends of the floor in 2022-23. He’s now poised for a full-on breakout year, as the Buckeyes are replacing three of their top scorers, meaning Key will be absolutely key to his team's success.
Offensively, Key scores most often in the post, on dump-offs as he relocates to open driving lanes, and via offensive rebound put-backs. He provides the Buckeyes with an effective option in the post, doing his work early by being physical, using his body to create contact and get opponents out of position as he finishes with both hands around the rim. Averaging 3 offensive boards per game, he does a great job fighting for position and getting his team second and third-chance scoring opportunities.
On the defensive side, he provides a physical interior presence in the paint who is capable of stepping out and defending on the perimeter. At 6’8” and 255 pounds, he does an admirable job using his size and strong base to defend in the post, making opponents work for the ball as he moves them off the block. When switched onto guards in pick-and-roll coverage, he has shown an ability to move laterally and contest without fouling.
6’9” Forward | Indiana | Sophomore
Playing behind three older teammates, Reneau embraced the ‘glue guy’ role as a freshman at Indiana. Averaging 14.9 MPG, he did whatever the team needed when he stepped on the court. With a limited offensive role, he made his possessions count, by cutting, crashing the offensive boards and running the floor in transition. He’s shown a real ability to create offense out of the post even dating back to high school, so we expect that to be an area of improvement in 2023-24.
Reneau’s biggest contribution to last year's team — which will carry over this season — was his defense. He showed a good understanding of the team's defensive principles, playing and remaining active in the gaps, stunting, switching, and playing vertically when contesting shots at the rim. As the primary defender, he held opponents to 33% FG, 21.4% 3FG, using his length to sag off guards while still contesting shots. He also held opponents to just 44.7% on attempts in the paint.