In a preview of the upcoming college basketball season, a collection of Rant Sports writers will be compiling a series of pieces reviewing the top breakout candidates from multiple conferences. Today, I’ll review the Big Ten conference.
Let’s take a look at the Top 10 Breakout Candidates-Big Ten for this upcoming season (in no particular order):
1. Aaron White, Iowa: In his rookie season, White won numerous accolades including the Hawkeyes’ first player since the World War II era to score 19 points in his college debut. Almost a dozen times, the freshman scored in double figures, averaging 11.3 points in conference play. Look for White to take on a leadership role this season. One pundit has compared him to former Wisconsin star Jon Leuer.
2. Keith Appling, Michigan State: A member of Michigan State’s team that brought home the conference title and a No 1 seed for the Big Dance last season, this sophomore will come out of Draymond Green’s shadow and take the team’s reins. Look for him to make his own opportunities, creating his own shots and becoming a difference maker and leader for his talented team.
3. Branden Dawson, Michigan State: With an injury behind him from freshman year, Dawson is poised to become a rising star on his team. The sophomore is efficient offensively and very athletic but this swingman needs to improve his perimeter skills before arriving at the next level.
4.Andre Hollins, Minnesota: In his rookie season, Hollins started in 10 games but soon moved to the bench thanks to his team’s talented guards. When he did return as a starter in February, the team won more games than they lost with him in the lineup. Prior to the Stanford loss in the NIT finals, Hollins scored in double figures for eight consecutive games with 20-plus points for half of them.
5. JerShon Cobb, Northwestern: This junior comes with high potential but is fragile and constantly battles injuries. Should he stay healthy this season, the guard will team up with Drew Crawford for scoring.
6. Terone Johnson, Purdue: The experienced guard will step up as a team leader and could land on the conference’s short list for most improved. He ended last season on a high note and is creative offensively.
7. Jared Berggren, Wisconsin: Berggren is talented both on the offense and defense. The big player can score and block. Look for him to hit a lot of three pointers.
8. Travis Trice, Michigan State: Injury impaired Trice in his freshman season but with that behind him, the sophomore will take on a greater presence on this deep team. Look for the guard to complement Appling.
9. Ryan Evans, Wisconsin: Without Jordan Taylor, this senior forward will step up this year. For 14 consecutive games last season, Evans scored in double figures. He is a hard worker and will also serve as a team leader.
10. Derrick Nix, Michigan State: The big 6’9″center has trimmed down in the offseason thanks to a vegetarian diet. This should help the senior pick up speed and advance as an inside player. In last year’s postseason he averaged 10 points per game and should see more this season with the absence of Green.
Here’s a short list for additional breakout players in the conference: Roy Devyn Marble (Iowa), Joe Coleman (Minnesota), Ross Travis (Penn State), Anthony Johnson (Purdue), and Ben Brust (Wisconsin).