By Adam Biggers
The debate over which player is the Big Ten's elite should end today. It's been evident the past few weeks that Michigan State Spartans star senior Draymond Green is the cream of the crop in regards to the league's top players, and Tuesday, he was honored with yet another accolade to stamp on his already impressive resume.
Green, who is the heart and soul of the sixth-ranked and Big Ten-leading Spartans, was named the BBWA National Player of the Week after outstanding performances against Wisconsin and Purdue, posting at least 20 points and 10 boards in each victory.
Green's closest competitor in the race to be crowned the Big Ten's best is Ohio State Buckeyes star Jared Sullinger. However, not even Sullinger has been National Player of the Week, which will surely tilt the votes in Green's direction. Adding to Green's candidacy for the league's top player recognition were his 12 points and nine rebounds in a 58-48 win over Ohio State just over a week ago, a game in which Sullinger was relatively ineffective. Despite scoring 17 points and finishing with 16 rebounds, Sullinger committed a season-high 10 turnovers and essentially withdrew his name from the POTY race.
Green is the only player in the Big Ten who is among the top 10 in points (15.4), rebounds (10.5) and assists (3.7). He leads the league with 15 double-doubles, and is the first player from a major conference to average over 15-10-3 in a season since Tim Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs' sure-Hall of Famer, did it at Wake Forest in 1997.
The importance of a senior like Green has been recognized by college basketball followers this season. However, like many true stars, his contributions to the Spartans may not be fully appreciated until he's gone, unfortunately.
Spartans coach Tom Izzo has called Green the "perfect Spartan," and one of the program's elite leaders since Flint native and Michigan State legend Mateen Cleaves, who helped lead the Spartans to the 2000 national title.
Green is more than a basketball player. I would liken his presence among the basketball team to that of what Kirk Cousins was to the football team. While Cousins could be considered more influential overall, Green has certainly earned the respect and admiration of Spartans followers from all all walks of life—not just those who are glued to Michigan State athletics.
Not the biggest, nor fastest, there is no doubt that Green is one of the smartest players to ever suit up in East Lansing. His intelligence on the floor is mind-boggling. To watch him run plays and orchestrate the offense is a thing of beauty. There aren't too many 6-foot-7, 230-pounders that move with the agility and grace that Green does.
Sure, Ohio State has the real deal in Sullinger. But Sullinger is no Green. That's not a knock on the Buckeyes star, it's what I would consider an ironclad fact. The Buckeyes rely on Sullinger just as much, if not more, than the Spartans rely on Green. However, the leadership, passion and energy exhibited by Green, who has two years experience on Sullinger, can't be matched by any player in the Big Ten.
Might as well mark it on your calendar—today is the day Green won the Big Ten's POTY honors.