Ferrell makes B1G’s First Team, Bielfeldt is Sixth Man #iubb

One was the heart and soul of Indiana’s Big Ten title push, while the other was the glue that helped keep the run together.

On Monday, point guard Yogi Ferrell and forward Max Bielfeldt each claimed their own well-deserved honors from the league’s coaches and media. The Big Ten announced that Ferrell was a unanimous first-team all-conference selection and that Bielfeldt was named the league’s Sixth Man of the Year by the coaches.

The two headline a list of Hoosiers who also picked up individual honors Monday. Center Thomas Bryant was a unanimous selection to the league’s All-Freshman team, while landing third team honors from the coaches and an honorable mention from the media. Forward Troy Williams was also a third team selection by the coaches and the media. Walk-on forward Ryan Burton earned IU’s sportsmanship award, while Ferrell claimed an additional spot on the league’s All-Defensive team.

There was little doubt that Ferrell would claim a spot on the Big Ten’s top platoon after he led IU to its second outright conference title in four seasons and led the Hoosiers in scoring with 17.1 points per game. In January, Ferrell also became the program’s all-time assists leader and carries 607 career helpers into this week’s Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.

On the court, Ferrell was at the heart of IU’s pursuit of the conference crown. He developed into a more visible and effective leader, while filling a variety of roles when called upon. Sometimes he was a scorer, while other times he was a facilitator. Often times, he was both.

Regardless of labels, Ferrell was always in lock step with what his team needed, setting an example for his teammates both on game days and in practice.

“The one thing with Yogi that we see, he’s getting better all the time,” IU coach Tom Crean said on Monday’s Big Ten teleconference. “I said this to the team (Sunday) when it was all said and done. I went in the locker room and said, ‘When you’ve got a guy like Yogi that you can look at and he’s better every week, it just shows everybody else on the team how much improvement you have to make.”

Ferrell’s work this season — and over the course of this four-year Indiana career — has him in the conversation as one of IU’s all-time great players.

After scoring 17 points in Sunday’s Senior Day win over Maryland, Ferrell has 1,909 career points and is now 71 shy of overtaking Alan Henderson for sixth place on IU’s leaderboard. Ferrell is the only player in Big Ten history to record 1,900 points, 600 assists and 400 rebounds during his career.

While those figures represent impressive production, Crean believes Ferrell’s ability to give his teammates confidence may be his most important contribution to Indiana this season.

“He’s been a great worker ever since he got here,” Crean said. “He had a great background in that, but he came into an environment as a freshman where Victor Oladipo, Jordan Hulls, Will Sheehey, Cody Zeller and Christian Watford were on the court, not just in practice, but they were on the court doing extra. That brought him right into that mindset that he’s carried. He’s getting better in every area. There’s a great confidence that his teammates have not only of playing with him, but on the impact he has on them. That’s been one of the great, great joys of coaching him this year.”

Bielfeldt, meanwhile, has served as one of the anchors of this team. After joining the program as a graduate transfer from Michigan last summer, Bielfeldt has exceeded expectations during his lone year at IU.

Though he was a productive reserve during his time with the Wolverines — earning Michigan’s Sixth Man of the Year award last spring — Bielfeldt has developed into a major contributor with the Hoosiers.

He has occupied a role as a solid and reliable low-post presence, while expanding his range on the perimeter. After hitting only 11 3-pointers across three seasons at Michigan, Bielfeldt is 24-for-55 (43 percent) from beyond the arc this season.

“I got hip surgery before my senior year (at Michigan) so I wasn’t really 100 percent until maybe February of last year,” Bielfeldt said. “Coach has really, really worked with me and pushed me so hard. It’s a combination of that and the system, and having the freedom to just find how things go and make the right play.”

Bielfeldt also deserves credit for the leadership he’s brought to IU’s locker room, and he’s played a significant part in fostering the development of IU’s young frontcourt.

Especially on the offensive end, Bryant has lived up to the hype of his McDonald’s All-American status. He leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage (.698), while averaging 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.

Williams has sought to become a more consistent player over the course of the season, and across the last three weeks, he’s made considerable strides. Williams is averaging 16.4 points during his last five games, and he matched his career high with 23 points in Sunday’s win over Maryland.

Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine was named Big Ten Player of the Year and, along with Ferrell and Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff, was a unanimous first team selection by the coaches and media. Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes and Purdue’s A.J. Hammons were also named to the first team by the coaches and media.