Who Should Win Big Ten Player of the Year?

With the 2004-05 Big Ten season just about to end, it's that time of year for all the post- season award talk. The Illini have made so much of this dream year; one can only wonder who will win the Player of the Year award in the Big Ten. Most reporters and coaches may have their minds made up. Read here to see which player Illiniboard.com's Kedric Prince will vote for on this year's ballot.

We all know the award this year will be awarded to a player on Illinois' roster; but which one is the question. With their three guards (Dee Brown, Luther Head and Deron Williams) one will take home this years' prize. But this year there could be a Co-MVP. We'll find out in the next couple weeks.

Let's start with Luther Head. He's probably the best player on the team and has been the most consistent over the long haul. There weren't many games this year where Head didn't come to play: knocking down threes, taking the ball to the rim and playing great defense. He's not flashy; he just gets the job done. Head has been instrumental in a lot of big games this year for Illinois, most noticeably the two Wisconsin games, the Iowa game in Champaign, and the Michigan State road trip. Head has been very solid and leads the #1 team in the nation on scoring with 16.5 ppg. In a recent interview Head said, "It's been a great year for Illinois this year. We all knew we were going to have a great year, but no one expected this. Now we just have to keep it going."

Deron Williams was the pre-season Player of the Year. Most feel Deron Williams didn't have the kind of shooting year some expected, but according to Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo, "Deron is the key to this engine. He makes that team go." Williams is making his own history at Illinois, leading the Big Ten is assists for three straight years. Also, if you really want to know why Illinois runs motion offense so well, it's because Williams understands it maybe just a little better than most on the team. No doubt about it, motion has raised Williams' game to prepare him for the next level. Right now the national media loves Williams' game.

My vote this year will go to Dee Brown. When Brown was asked about the award he said, "Most definitely it should go to Luther Head or Deron Williams. They both had a great year." Well Mr. Brown, this year I believe the award should go to you. Brown is the one single player that can change the momentum of a game in a second and make opposing coaches shake their heads in frustration. Just last weekend, Iowa's Coach Steve Alford had been asking for traveling calls on Brown the entire first half. Finally he got one and Brown didn't like it. What did he do? The very next trip down the court Brown took three Iowa defenders to the basket and scored. Alford then called timeout to settle his troops. Looking back at a few games this past season, if Brown doesn't play this perfect 28-0 record might have a loss or two next to it. This former McDonald's All-American can shoot the basketball with the best of them. Just ask Northwestern's Coach Bill Carmody. This season Brown is shooting them at 47%.

Very few players can change a college basketball game with his defense the way Brown can. Let's reminisce here where Brown did just that: Illinois at Michigan (great pass to James), Illinois at Penn State, Illinois at Michigan State, Illinois at Iowa, and last but not least, Illinois at Purdue. During the Purdue game Brown gave Illini fans nationwide the picture that's on everyone's desktop right now - grabbing the front of his jersey to let people know that he represents Illinois basketball. Dee Brown is what Illinois basketball is about, my friends. In all my years of watching and covering the Illini, only two players come to mind that make Illinois fans so proud that they want to get away from the bag of chips to go out and play, and that's former Illini great Kenny Battle and now Dee Brown. Battle for years will be one of Illinois' all-time favorite players, but Dee Brown has closed that gap for some. Mr. Brown, you should win the Big Ten Player of the Year Award. My vote will go like this:

Big Ten Player of the Year:
Dee Brown, Illinois

Coach of the Year: Bruce Weber, Illinois

All Big Ten Team First Team:
Luther Head, Illinois Mike Wilkinson, Wisconsin Dee Brown, Illinois Deron Williams, Illinois Vincent Grier, Minnesota

Second Team:
Paul Davis, Michigan State James Augustine, Illinois Greg Brunner, Iowa Adam Haluska, Iowa Carl Landry, Purdue

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