Zach Edey and Trayce Jackson-Davis may command most of the attention around Big Ten Basketball, and for good reason, but the league also boasts an impressive lineup of freshmen making their presence felt in a big way in 2022-2023. Whether it’s the pairing of Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer helping fuel Purdue to one of their best starts in program history or sharpshooting Conner Essegian out of Wisconsin, the conference is in great hands for years to come.
Now that we’ve reached what is essentially the midpoint of the Big Ten conference schedule, it feels like a great time to pay homage to the 10 freshmen who have been particularly important this college basketball season. But first, a few honorable mentions who just missed out:
Honorable Mention: Derek Simpson, Rutgers
Stats: 18.7 minutes/game, 6.0 PPG, 1.4 APG, 35% FG
Despite playing in a veteran-laden Rutgers backcourt, Derek Simpson has found a niche role as a true frosh. He’s provided a nice spark off the bench and has proven to be a strong perimeter defender who can get his hands in passing lanes. The shooting hasn’t quite been there up to this point, but that’s to be expected of a youngster still finding his role in this league. The good news? He’s proven to be a very effective free-throw shooter, albeit in a small sample size, with an 81.3 percentage.
Honorable Mention: Malik Reneau, Indiana
Stats: 15.3 MPG, 7.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 56% FG
Another player who wasn’t expected to play a large role due to the experience in front of him on the roster, Indiana’s Malik Reneau has been a pleasant surprise. The combo forward has been an incredibly active presence on the glass and has shown a lot of potential as a low-post scorer. He had one of his best showings of his career this past weekend in the Ohio State win, scoring 15 points and grabbing eight boards.
Honorable Mention: Joshua Ola-Joseph, Minnesota
Stats: 20.1 MPG, 6.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 51% FG
There’s a lot to like about Joshua Ola-Joseph’s game. He’s a bouncy athlete that can play and defend multiple positions, while offering a versatile offensive repertoire. Ola-Joseph has been a bright spot on a Gopher team dragging through a rough season, and the Minnesota native should be a factor for the program moving forward.