Another exciting season of college basketball is almost upon us as the annual Midnight Madness begins for most schools over the next 2 weeks.
Legendary NCAA programs like Kentucky, North Carolina, and Duke are once again the early favorites for the Championship but they will have to rely heavily on a “Breakout Star” if they are to make it to the 2016 Final Four.
Everyone knows about the star players on each squad, as well as the newest batch of one-and-done freshmen, but which players are poised to have a breakout campaign?
This season, some potential Breakout Stars to watch include Duke’s Grayson Allen, Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson, and Marcus Lee at Kentucky but who will round out the remainder of the list?
Check out 15 Potential NCAA Breakout Players For the 2015-2016 Season……….
’14-’15 Stats: 11.6 ppg, 2.4 reb, 1.2 ast, .360 3PT%
The former McDonald’s All American in high school has struggled to find his way on the collegiate level, first playing at NC State as a freshman before transferring to UConn prior to the ’13-’14 season. Purvis finished 2nd on the team in scoring last season behind the graduated Ryan Boatright and led the team in postseason play, upping his offensive output to 17.5 ppg, including a career high 29 points in the American Conference Championship Game. Purvis will be part of a talented backcourt that also includes Sterling Gibbs, Daniel Hamilton, Sam Cassell Jr, and Omar Calhoun, but Purvis should emerge as the most talented of the group.
’14-’15 Stats: 12.7 ppg, 5 reb, 3.6 ast, 1.9 stl, .392 3PT%
After not getting much playing time as a freshman at Duke, Gbinije decided to transfer to Syracuse and was forced to sit out a season per NCAA Rules. As a sophomore, he played just 14 minutes per game and averaged just 3.4 ppg but became a key component on last year’s Orange squad, ranking 3rd on the team in points and assists. This past Summer, he starred on the Nigerian National Team that helped earn an Olympic berth in 2016. With Syracuse under sanctions, he won’t get much TV exposure but he’s already on the NBA’s radar and could be Coach Boeheim’s best player this coming season.
’14-’15 Stats: 21.4 ppg, 6.1 reb, 2,3 ast, 1.5 stl, .385 3PT%
Only hardcore hoops fans already know about Lee’s prowess as a scorer, as the former Drexel standout finished 4th in the nation last season in scoring at 21.4 ppg, Lee is a 5th year senior and was regarded as the top transfer available this offseason, making him a huge get for head coach Rick Pitino, who must replace the perimeter scoring lost from Wayne Blackshear and Terry Rozier, who left via graduation and the NBA Draft. Lee figures to play major minutes for a young Cardinals squad that also has high hopes for incoming freshmen Donovan Mitchell, Ray Spalding, and Deng Adel, along with the returning Quentin Snider and Cleveland State transfer Trey Lewis.
Shooting Guard/Small Forward
’14-’15 Stats: 14.7 ppg, 4.5 reb, 2.5 ast, 1.3 stl, .383 3PT%
The Wichita State Shockers have gone from mid major Cinderella to one of the NCAA’s premier programs on the rise as they have made 4 consecutive March Madness runs, going an amazing 95-15 over the past 3 seasons. A big part of their success has been from their prolific perimeter scorer Baker, who has begun to garner the NBA’s attention as a potential 1st Round draftee because of his unconscious shooting and toughness, two traits that bode well at the next level. Naker, as well as backcourt mate Fred Van Vleet should be on everyone’s Preseason All American lists.
’14-’15 Stats: 13 ppg, 7 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl, .540 FG%, .462 3PT%
The once highly touted HS recruit, whose father Boo is one of the forefathers of the modern day AAU system, hasn’t made the immediate splash as expected, taking a back-up role to both Yogi Ferrell and stud frosh James Blackmon Jr last season. But now as a seasoned upperclassman on a good team that is expected to challenge for a Big Ten crown in 2016, Williams and Ferrell must play a leadership role if young players like Blackmon and highly touted freshman center Diamond Stone are to live up to potential.
’14-’15 Stats: 5.1 ppg, 2.7 reb, .455 FG%, .408 3 PT%
Easily the most gifted athlete under Steve Fisher since NBA Lottery pick Kawhi Leonard, Pope played in just under 15 minutes per game as a freshman, but has the potential to be an elite college player as a sophomore. The former Top 50 rated HS recruit came into his own late in the season after rehabbing not one, but two broken legs prior to enrolling as SDSU, but emerged as a match-up nightmare because of his insane athleticism, long reach, and developing offensive game that extends out to the 3 point line.
’14-’15 Stats: 9.7 ppg, 7.1 reb, .668 FG%
The son of former NBA great Arvydas Sabonis has played extensively in Europe before with the Zags, making ahim an instant impact recruit as a freshman last season. This year, a lot more is expected out of the Lithuanian star as he teams with Kyle Wiltjer and Przemek Karnowski to form atguably the best frontcourt in the nation. Sabonis doesn’t offer much offensively but has emerged as a ferocious rebounder and solid low post defender that fared well against more highly touted bigs last season. There’s a lot to like about Sabonis, like his strength, physicality, mobility, and toughness, but he will be a handful if his offensive game comes along.
’14-’15 Stats: 12.4 ppg, 6.4 reb, 2 ast, .497 FG%, .396 3PT%
With reigning NCAA POY Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker leaving for the NBA, head coach Bo Ryan will look to Hayes to be the go-to-guy this season. Hayes has steadily increased his production since his freshman season and has developed into one of the college ranks best all around players. Despite being a tad undersized, he is a physical post player as well as efficient shooter out to the 3 point line. He should be one of the favorites to contend for Big Ten Player of the Year.
’14-’15 Stats: 2.6 ppg, 2.7 reb, .644 FG%
Long been considered a talented but raw PF in the mold of Tyrus Thomas, Lee has bided his time behind future NBA Lottery picks like Willie Cauley Stein, Julius Randle, and Karl Anthony Towns on the Kentucky roster. But as a junior it may finally be his time as he probably will start up front alongside stud freshman Skal Labissiere and senior Alex Poythress for coach Calipari. He’s still rather thin but is as athletic as any player in the country and has gone up against those former Lottery picks every day in practice, garnering some valuable experience awaiting the opportunity. Look for Lee to put up monster reounding and block numbers as one of the anchors of the Wildcats frontcourt.
’14-’15 Stats: 12.4 ppg, 3.6 reb, 3.1 ast, 1.6 stl, .508 FG%, .429 3PT%
The former McDonald’s All American in high school began to make his mark on the program last season despite playing in the shadows of 2 NBA draft picks Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton. Jackson now inherits the starting PG spot on a talented team that still includes Zach Auguste, Steve Vasturia, and Bonzie Colson. The elite level floor general will probably put up huge numbers and is on everyone’s Preseason All American list.
’14-’15 Stats: 10.1 ppg, 4.5 reb, 1.1 stl, .515 FG%, .464 3PT%
Coach Jay Wright’s system of playing 3-4 guards at a time fits Hart to a T, as he emerged as the team’s 2nd leading scorer and lockdown perimeter defender last season. With Darrun Hillard now playing for the Pistons and JayVaughn Pinkston graduated, the team will be focused on perimeter stars Ryan Arcidiacano, Hart, Phil Boothe and stud freshman Jalen Brunson, surrounding dominating big man Daniel Ochefu. Hart could put up big numbers as one of the leaders of everyone’s Big East favorites VU.
“14-’15 Stats: 11.6 ppg, 11.6 reb, 1.2 stl, 1 blk, .459 FG%
Undeniably one of the nation’s top rebounders, Gathers should become a household name as one of the better seniors in the country. Seeing him in action is a treat as he uses every once of his being to clear the glass and is as physical as any player across the country. Because he’s a tad undersized at 6’8, he’ll never become a star at the next level, but dominates opposing bigs within the painted area. Baylor is hoping to challenge Kansas for the Big 12 crown behind arguably one of the conference’s best rebounders since Blake Griffin or Micheal Beasley.
’14-’15 Stats: 14.4 ppg, 6.5 reb, 2 blk, .561 FG%
The 2015 All SEC 1st Team performer has vaulted onto the NBA’s radar as a legit center prospect going forward. He’s super athletic but is still raw on both sides of the ball but many feel he’s a poor man’s Anthony Davis, as he’s already a dominating rim protector and has worked hard on his offensive game each of his first 2 seasons at Vandy. The Commodores might surprise a few in the SEC this season, primarily because of the play of Jones.
’14-’15 Stats: 4.4 ppg, 1 reb, .346 3PT%
With the success of freshmen Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, and Tyus Jones last season, many forgot just how talented Grayson Allen was. He let loose in the NCAA Championship Game, putting up a surprising 16 points, to help secure a victory for the Blue Devils. He should play a much bigger role this season for Coach K as the team brings in another highly touted freshman class led by Brandon Ingram, Chase Jeter, and Luke Kennard. The former HS slam dunk champion has some sneaky athleticism and will probably go down on the Duke haters list along with Christian Laettner, JJ Redick, and Kyle Singler but they only hate you when you are good.
’14-’15 Stats: 10.7 ppg, 3.7 reb, 2.3 ast, .477 FG%, .304 3PT%
A highly touted HS prospect, Jackson came on strong down the stretch last season in Durham, scoring in double figures in 11 of his final 12 games. He was especially great in the postseason, forming a potent duo alongside star PG Marcus Paige. Jackson was once an elite scorer, putting up nearly 32 ppg in high school, so look for Jackson to put up big numbers and play a major role for the Tarheels this season.