#3 – James Palmer Jr., Nebraska
The casual college basketball fan may not be familiar with Nebraska’s James Palmer Jr., but that’s likely an indictment of the Huskers’ struggles on the court. The senior proved himself to be one of the best shooting guards in the nation last season after transferring from Miami (FL).
Palmer’s breakout campaign was one of the biggest surprises of the 2017-18 season in Big Ten country. In his first two seasons of college basketball down in Coral Gables, he averaged just 3.6 points in 12.6 minutes per game. In his Nebraska debut last year, he exploded for 17.2 points (good for fifth in the conference), 4.4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in 31 minutes of action per game. He was a First Team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and a second team selection by the media.
As with others on this list, Palmer tested the NBA Draft waters, but he decided to return to Lincoln for his senior year instead. That decision should benefit he and his team handsomely.
Palmer is now a dark horse candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year on a team that has the talent to make a run to the NCAA Tournament this season. This is probably the best roster head coach Tim Miles has had in his tenure at Nebraska, and if he can’t find a way to get this team to the Dance, his seat is going to be so hot that he might develop third-degree burns.
The Huskers won’t get there without another big year from Palmer.