Busting Brackets

Big Ten Basketball: Top 10 biggest impact freshmen from the 2023-24 season

Iowa v Illinois
Iowa v Illinois / Michael Hickey/GettyImages
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4. John Blackwell, Wisconsin

Stats: 17.2 MPG, 7.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG

Joining a backcourt that included a pair of established veterans in Chucky Hepburn and Max Klesmit, plus two rising younsters in A.J. Storr and Connor Essegian, not much was expected of John Blackwell entering 2023-24. Instead, the true frosh has been one of the most pleasant surprises in the Big Ten, playing important minutes for the Badgers and putting up strong numbers across the board.

Blackwell is averaging nearly eight points per game and making his presence felt on the glass, but the most impressive thing about him is just how well he has shot the ball. Splits of 46/46/84 are impressive no matter the competition, and Blackwell has continued to impress throughout league play. With Wisconsin fading in recent weeks, it wouldn't be surprising if the Badgers increasingly turn to him to give them a much-needed spark off the bench.

3. Mackenzie Mgbako, Indiana

Stats: 25.7 MPG, 11.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG

A consensus five-star recruit and McDonald's All-American, Mackenzie Mgbako arrived in Bloomington with plenty of fanfare. And, even as the Hoosiers have faltered down the stretch, he's mostly lived up the hype, leading all Big Ten freshmen in scoring.

It's no surprise why Mgbako earned the adoration of scouts coming out of high school, a powerful forward with eye-popping athleticism who also brings a well-rounded offensive game to the table. Mgbako still does most of his damage around the rim, but his ability to step out and make defenders contest on the perimeter is arguably the most valuable part of his repertoire. He's almost sure to enter the NBA Draft and likely will end up being a lottery selection, but I'll be interested to see how he performs as the Hoosiers limp to the finish line. Does the freshman mail it in on a lost season, or use this final stretch to kick it into another gear?