Badgers’ Taylor named first-team All-Big Ten

MADISON, Wis. — Even though Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor’s statistics declined slightly during his senior season, Big Ten coaches were impressed enough that they still voted him as one of the conference’s best players.

Taylor was named a first-team All-Big Ten member by the coaches and a second-team selection by media members on Monday. Teammates Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren were each consensus honorable mention selections. Josh Gasser was named to the Big Ten’s All-Defensive team as voted on by coaches, and Rob Wilson was named Wisconsin’s Sportsmanship Award recipient.

Taylor led the Badgers during the regular season in points (14.6) and assists (4.1), and his play picked up considerably once Big Ten games began. He averaged 16.3 points over 18 conference games.

“I’m very honored to have my name written alongside the great players in the Big Ten,” Taylor said in a release. “Our league is so deep and talented this year, you can’t go wrong with any of the players on the three All-Big Ten teams or even guys who earned honorable mention like Ryan (Evans) and Jared (Berggren). There is no question my being named All-Conference is a reflection of our team’s success, and I owe a lot to my teammates and coaches for that. It’s a great honor.”

A year ago, Taylor averaged 18.1 points per game while playing with a senior-laden frontcourt and led the nation with a 3.83 assist-to-turnover ratio. Though Taylor’s numbers dropped this season, his teammates insisted his value to the Badgers went far beyond points and assists totals.

“I think numbers don’t always tell the whole story with how much we rely on him to make plays for other guys,” Berggren said Sunday after Wisconsin defeated Illinois 70-56 in the regular-season finale. “Even if he’s creating a play, sometimes it’s not an assist, but he’s still making a play.

“The things he does for the team, it’s way more than what’s measured in numbers and stats. He’s our leader. He’s our go-to guy. He brings it every day in practice, every game. He’s really a huge player for us.”

Taylor, a Bob Cousy Award finalist for national point guard of the year, also was named first-team All-Big Ten a year ago. Monday’s honor makes him just the sixth Wisconsin player to be a two-time selection on the first-team, joining Alando Tucker (2006 and 2007), Kirk Penney (2002 and 2003), Michael Finley (1993 and 1995), Ab Nicholas (1951 and 1952) and Don Rehfeldt (1949 and 1950).

This marks Wisconsin’s 10th first-team all-conference honor during coach Bo Ryan’s 11 seasons. The Badgers’ 10 first-team players are the most in the Big Ten during the Ryan era, and the seven different individuals earning first-team All-Big Ten honors are tied for tops in the conference.

“People can say a lot of things. For me, I know what Jordan has meant,” Ryan said during his weekly press conference on Monday. “His teammates, they can tell you what he’s meant. Any fan that’s ever followed Wisconsin basketball can tell you how valuable a guy like Jordan Taylor is to the program.”

Joining Taylor as first-team All-Big Ten members by the coaches were Northwestern’s John Shurna, Purdue’s Robbie Hummel, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger and Michigan State’s Draymond Green, who was named the consensus Big Ten Player of the Year. Penn State’s Tim Frazier earned first-team All-Big Ten by media members instead of Taylor.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was a consensus selection for Big Ten Coach of the Year.

The Badgers open postseason play as the No. 4 seed on Friday at the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. Wisconsin plays at 1:30 p.m. CT and will face the winner of No. 5 Indiana and No. 12 Penn State.