Every year a number of prospects go from unheralded role players to full blown superstars. Last season, Indiana’s dynamic shooting guard Victor Oladipo went from a virtual unknown to becoming the #2 pick in the 2013 draft.
Projecting breakout players for the upcoming college basketball season first and foremost requires setting a criteria. Our criteria includes being a legitimate NBA prospect, a returning player (non freshman or Juco transfer) and becoming a star on the national level. Here are our top breakout candidates for the 2013-14 season:
Glenn Robinson III, 6’7 Michigan So. — Despite being a key member of the Wolverines Final Four team, Robinson was at best the team’s third option on offense last year, and generally deferred to teammates instead of looking to create his own offense. With Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. having departed to the NBA, Robinson gets his chance to take over. He shot just 32% from 3 as a freshman, but his outside shooting showed tremendous improvement over the off season. With added driving ability, Robinson could nearly double his 11.0 ppg output as a freshman, this season, and become one of the biggest stars on the college level this season.
Rodney Hood 6’8 Duke, So. — After sitting out a red shirt transfer season, Hood has been given Coach K’s nod as his most talented player not named Parker. Hood can really shoot it and should fill the outside shooting void left by Seth Curry’s graduation. Hood averaged 10 ppg as a freshman and with a year of maturing in Duke practices, should be primed for a big season in Durham.
Perry Ellis 6’8, Kansas So. After playing last season behind four seniors plus the #7 pick in the NBA draft, Perry Ellis will be expected to take on a major leadership role for the Jayhawks. Ellis is an above average rebounder that can score in a variety ways and has shown the ability to make three pointers, which will be a key in becoming successful at the next level. The biggest question surrounding Ellis will be him asserting himself and realizing his ability to become a star with Kansas’ talented Freshmen class.
Bryce Dejean-Jones, 6’5 UNLV Jr. — Already a double-digit scorer last season, expect Dejean-Jones to explode this season with the departure of number #1 pick Anthony Bennett. Considered a lock down defender, with three-point range and above average athleticism, don’t be surprised if he contends for player of the year honors in the Mountain West. Most people around the country miss out on Mountain West basketball, but Dejean-Jones is a must watch if you see UNLV on television.
Jerami Grant, 6’7 Syracuse So. — Every year Syracuse seems to find a breakout star, with Michael Carter-Williams emerging last season. Grant fits the typical mold of this player as he is long and athletic and a perfect wing for their zone defense. When used last season he was efficient scoring the basketball and should be a perfect complement to CJ Fair this season. Grant will be the best slasher on this team and will be relied on to create shots with the loss of MCW.
Sam Dekker, 6’7 Wisconsin So. — Expect Sam Dekker to become a star in Bo Ryan’s system this year. Dekker is not only a plus athlete but he is also an exceptional shooter with the potential to shoot 50% FG, 40% 3p, 90% FT. Don’t be surprised if he is Big Ten Player of the Year and begins to climb up draft boards similar to Gordon Hayward, with a strong post season.
Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona So. — Last year the Wildcats were a perimeter oriented team and rarely used Tarcewski, even though he shot above 50% from the floor. With a new point guard and a focus on using Tarczewski on the block we will see a dramatic rise in his scoring output. Tarcewski is an excellent rebounder but is not an impactful defender for his size. Overall his offensive skill set is desired at the next level and we expect to see him as an all-conference performer this season.
AJ Hammons, Purdue So. — Even though the Boilermakers struggled last season and failed to make the tournament, Hammons showed flashes of what could be a potential lottery pick in the future. As Hammons became more comfortable in Matt Painter’s system, he scored double digits in 10 of the final 15 games and was a force on the defensive end. Hopefully Hammons can stay out of trouble, as he is currently suspended for three games, and realize his potential this year.
Kris Dunn, Providence So. — After not playing a game until December last season and fighting through a a shoulder injury for much of last season, the Providence point guard never looked liked the player everyone expected. There were flashes but never consistency. Providence was able to make a late season run at the tournament and much of that credit goes to Dunn who has the ability to make those around him better. While he may not be a great shooter at this point, expect an off-season spent on campus to help him become a more complete player.