Tori Jankoska for Big Ten Player of the Year?


Zach Manning

Michigan State senior guard Tori Jankoska has developed into one of the best players in the nation, which has put her atop award watch lists such as Big Ten Player of the Year.

Jankoska is a threat to score as soon as she walks into the gym. She averages 22 points per game, which ranks seventh in the nation and second in the Big Ten behind only Kelsey Mitchell of Ohio State. However, Jankoska doesn’t just score. She averages 5.1 assists per game, which ranks fifth in the Big Ten, and 8.3 rebounds per game, which is eighth in the conference.

The 5-foot-8 guard from Freeland, Mich. became Michigan State’s career scoring leader after scoring 42 points in the team’s win over Ohio State on Jan. 10. Currently, she is just six points away from becoming the only Spartan to reach 2,000 career points.

Jankoska’s main competitors for Big Ten Player of the Year are Nia Coffey of Northwestern and Brionna Jones of Maryland. Coffey averages 19 points per game, which ranks sixth in the conference, and 11.1 rebounds per game, second-best in the Big Ten. Jones averages 18.9 points, seventh in the Big Ten, and 10.4 rebounds per game, which ranks third in the conference.

Jankoska stole the show when MSU and Northwestern met earlier this season, scoring 25 points and grabbing eight rebounds in the Spartans’ 76-65 loss. Coffey didn’t have her best game when the two teams met in mid-January, scoring just seven points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Jankoska will have her chance to outshine Jones when the Spartans and Terrapins meet on Sunday.

The one distinguishing factor that sets Jankoska apart from Jones and Coffey is her value to the Spartans. Jones and Coffey are vital pieces to their respective teams, but Jankoska is the engine of the Spartans. Without Jankoska, the Spartans wouldn’t be near the top of the Big Ten and would most likely be out of NCAA Tournament contention.

Jones leads Maryland in scoring, but the Terrapins have three other players averaging double figures. The same can be said for the Wildcats. Coffey leads the team in scoring, but Northwestern has two more players averaging over 11 points per game and one more at just under nine points per game.

The Spartans? Well, they have just one scorer averaging more than 10 points per game: Jankoska. The next highest scoring Spartan is graduate transfer Taya Reimer, who averages 9.5 points per game.

Not only does Jankoska carry the team in scoring, but she has also had to carry the team in rebounding. Jankoska leads the team in rebounding, averaging 8.3 per game. The next best rebounder on the team is Branndais Agee, who averages 7.1 rebounds per game. As a shooting guard, Jankoska shouldn’t have to be leaned upon to carry the team in rebounding.

Jankoska does have some help in the assist column. Taryn McCutcheon averages 5.1 assists per game. However, Jankoska also averages 5.1 assists per game, making her the leader in the three main statistical categories for the Spartans.

Jankoska also leads the team in steals per game, free-throw percentage and minutes played. She leads the Big Ten in minutes played, free-throw percentage and three-point field goals made.

The Big Ten Player of the Year award won’t be announced until early March, but the Freeland, Mich. native has a very strong case to take home the trophy.