They are the centerpieces to Indiana’s potential this season, and on Tuesday, James Blackmon Jr. and Thomas Bryant were front and center among the top players the Big Ten has to offer.
Blackmon and Bryant have been named to the 2016-17 Preseason All-Big Ten Team, the conference announced Tuesday. Blackmon and Bryant are natural representatives for the Hoosiers, who will count on both to anchor the program’s Big Ten title defense beginning next month.
It’s the second consecutive season IU has landed two players on the 10-man preseason all-conference team. Blackmon made it last year, too, and returns from January knee surgery looking to add a scoring jolt to Indiana’s backcourt.
Before injuring his ACL in late December, Blackmon averaged 15.8 points per game, starting 12 of the 13 games he played. He scored in double figures in 11 of those contests, while shooting 46 percent from 3-point range and 85 percent from the free throw line.
For Bryant, it’s the latest honor he’s received entering a crucial sophomore season. The 6-foot-10 center has also earned preseason All-American honors from NBCSports.com and Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook.
Bryant closed his freshman season with a Third Team All-Big Ten selection after averaging 11.9 points and 5.8 rebounds. He led the conference with a field goal percentage of .683.
Wisconsin landed three players on the Big Ten’s preseason team, including player of the year Nigel Hayes. The Badger senior was the only unanimous selection to the preseason team.
He’s joined by teammates Bronson Koenig and Ethan Happ, Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan, Michigan’s Derrick Walton, Maryland Melo Trimble, Peter Jok of Iowa and Malcolm Hill from Illinois.