Every year, players who weren’t big-time contributors one season become just that the very next. For example, there was Meyers Leonard last year and Darius Morris two seasons ago. Get BTN.com Brent Yarina’s early top five 2012-13 breakout candidates in this post.
To be eligible for this list, a player had to play in the 2011-12 season, while not starting more than half of his team’s games or averaging double digits. Random, I know, but everyone seems to define “breakout” differently, so I applied a few qualifiers. Otherwise, some would consider, say, Aaron White and Dre Hollins breakout candidates, while others, myself included, already think they’ve arrived.
Here’s my list, in alphabetical order of school:
Josh Oglesby, G, Iowa – Few can shoot it from distance better than Oglesby, who has limitless range and a sweet stroke. He won’t replace Matt Gatens’ production, but he’ll help make up for the local star’s departure.
2011-12 stats: 6.4 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.2 apg in 18.7 mpg (5 starts)
Travis Trice, G, Michigan State – Injury kept Trice from showing what he can do during his freshman campaign. He’ll play a much bigger role as a sophomore, both because he figures to be healthy and he can help Keith Appling man the point guard position.
2011-12 stats: 4.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.8 spg in 17.2 mpg (0 starts)
Sam Thompson, F, Ohio State – If this athletic freak develops an offensive game, he’ll be a blast to watch. Either way, he’s going to be a force on the defensive end, where he averaged 1.5 blocks per 40 minutes as a freshman.
2011-12 stats: 2.1 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 0.4 bpg in 10.6 mpg (0 starts)
Terone Johnson, G, Purdue – The most established player on the list, Johnson could be next season’s Meyers Leonard — aka the conference’s most improved player. Things you have to like about the Boiler: 1.) He finished the 2011-12 season on a tear; 2.) He can create his own shot; 3.) His role will expand a lot.
2011-12 stats: 9.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2 apg, 1 spg in 23.7 mpg (12 starts)
Ben Brust, G, Wisconsin* – With Josh Gasser’s ACL tear, every Wisconsin guard can expect more playing time, more opportunity to produce. Brust isn’t a distributor, and while he doesn’t figure to become one, he’s got a deadly stroke and will be asked to score points in bunches.
2011-12 stats: 7.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.7 spg in 21.3 mpg (0 starts)
Others to consider: Joe Coleman, Minnesota; Ross Travis, Penn State; LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State; Anthony Johnson, Purdue.
* — The first installment of this post listed Northwestern’s JerShon Cobb, who has been suspended for the season.