Category archive: Illinois Fighting Illini
This season, Insider is featuring the writing of six current NCAA basketball players who contribute their thoughts on issues facing their conferences. In this installment, our guys were tabbed for their picks for their conference's postseason honors. Much to their consternation, they were asked not to include themselves or their teams in the voting.
Big Ten (Draymond Green, Michigan State)
Player of the Year: JaJuan Johnson, Purdue He's been consistent all year long, a solid 20 and 8 guy every night. He really stepped into a big role, and his team needed him to for a full year without Robbie Hummell. I'd say him over Jared Sullinger because he does great with more around him than Johnson's got. You can't double down on Sullinger because he's got Jon Diebler, David Lighty and Will Buford out there shooting. That takes the pressure off. JaJuan Johnson doesn't have all that.
Coach of the Year: Matt Painter, Purdue
He's got them clicking right now, but they haven't had a letdown all season long. They got a win over Wisconsin and that one against Ohio State last month. What's really impressive is that he got his role players to step up, too. Ryne Smith, D.J. Byrd, even Lewis Jackson has stepped his game up more.
Conference tourney winner: Purdue
Dark horse: Either us or Minnesota Our chemistry is coming together more and we have each other's backs. A lot of guys are on the same page, even just thinking about making a pass, and I know that, say, Delvon Roe will be right there. We've learned each other's tendencies a lot better and the little things are coming together. If not us, probably Minnesota because I hear they might get Al Nolen back.
Predicted number of NCAA tournament bids for Big Ten: 5