Michigan State basketball

© Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State basketball: AJ Hoggard will be Big Ten’s best PG

Michigan State basketball’s AJ Hoggard believes the Spartans have the Big Ten’s best backcourt, and he’s a big reason for that.

Big Ten media day was this week and Tom Izzo and some of his Michigan State basketball players had a lot to say.

Obviously the question about retirement was brought up (again) and Izzo reiterated that he still has a while to go before he has to worry about that. And then the players spoke to the media and one quote from AJ Hoggard stood out and caused a stir on social media.

Hoggard stated that Michigan State basketball has the best backcourt in the Big Ten.

It was a confident statement which is what you love to see from your leader, and it was one that definitely had some legs. It would be tough to argue against and there’s a legit reason to believe he’s right.

That reason? Hoggard himself.

Entering his junior season, everyone who follows college basketball — and especially the Big Ten — is expecting a jump. He’s been listed on breakout lists everywhere and some even consider him the best point guard in the Big Ten.

And I tend to agree with that notion.

Is it because the Big Ten is down this year? Potentially, but he’s a complete guard.

Hoggard can create for himself by driving to the basket and he can create for others, but he also plays an elite level of defense. He’s the total package.

Indiana and Illinois fans didn’t want to hear this about Hoggard, though. Xavier Johnson was the first name that was brought up in rebuttal of Hoggard being mentioned as the league’s best point guard. He averaged 12.1 points and 5.1 assists while shooting 41 percent from the floor in 28 minutes per game.

Another name that was mentioned was Northwestern’s Boo Buie. He averaged 14.1 points, 4.3 assists, and shot 40 percent from the field in almost 30 minutes per game.

Lastly, there was Wisconsin’s Chucky Hepburn who averaged 7.9 points and 2.3 assists while shooting 39 percent from the field in 30-plus minutes per game.

But there’s one stat line that stands out for Hoggard which leads me to believe he’s going to be the Big Ten’s best point guard this year. This line is courtesy of DK on Twitter:

All of the previously mentioned point guards averaged 25-plus minutes per game. Hoggard averaged just 20.2 as a sophomore. In the games he did play 25-plus minutes, he had the best stat line of the bunch, averaging 13.7 points, 7.3 assists, 1.8 turnovers, 1.2 steals, 3.5 rebounds, and he shot 48 percent from the field. He’s going to be averaging well over 25 this year.

So if he can maintain those solid numbers in more action this season with another year of experience, he’s going to easily clear Johnson, Buie, and Hepburn.

The only area in which Hoggard may not be the best in the Big Ten at the position: 3-point shooting. And he’s working on that.

Right now, I’m buying stock in Hoggard as the Big Ten’s best point guard.

The talent is there, the opportunity will be there, and this is his team now.

I think we’ll see Hoggard take that next step in 2022-23.

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