Rant Sports NCAAB Season Preview: Top 10 Breakout Candidates-Big East
Every year, players emerge from obscurity to stardom. So let’s take a look at the Top 10 Breakout Candidates-Big East.
10. Rakeem Christmas, So., Syracuse – Entering college as the No. 2 center in ESPN’s class of 2011 rankings, Christmas could not have been thrilled about playing 11.5 minutes per game as a freshman. At times his disappointment showed, but now he should see more floor time and his numbers should rise. Though he didn’t step up when Fab Melo was suspended for three regular season games, Christmas played two solid tournament games, averaging seven points, nine rebounds and 2.5 blocks in wins over UNC-Asheville and Kansas State.
9. Brandon Triche, Sr., Syracuse – As the Orange’s new leader, Triche should see his numbers rise. The question is how much? He can shoot and finish around the rim, but are we looking at a jump from 9.4 points to 12 points per game? Or could he average 15 or more?
8. Phil Greene, So., St. John’s – Greene, who came out of high school as a shooting guard only to log minutes at the point as a freshman, didn’t post flashy numbers last year, to say the least. But he finished on a strong note, averaging 10.9 points and 3.9 assists while turning the ball over just 1.9 times and shooting 43.2 percent during a late 13 game stretch. Greene will compete with Jamal Branch for minutes at the point, but considering Branch won’t be eligible until December, the Chicago native has the upper hand.
7. Aaron Cosby, So., Seton Hall – As a freshman, Cosby played shooting guard, deferring to senior point guard Jordan Theodore. But now that Theodore is gone, Cosby started at the point in all four of Seton Hall’s games in Spain and thrived. He averaged 14 points and 6.8 assists, and if he can keep his turnover rate low, he could be a real force for the Pirates.
6. JayVaughn Pinkston, So., Villanova – In his first season suited up for the Wildcats, Pinkston played his best basketball down the stretch. From Jan. 1 to Mar. 1, he topped 20 points three times, averaging 14.3 points and seven boards over the span of 14 games. Pinkston, a heralded recruit out of high school, found his niche, and without Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek in the lineup, he should flourish in 2011-12.
5. Chane Behanan, So., Louisville – Behanan has the talent to be higher on this list, but with Louisville’s depth, his numbers shouldn’t rise drastically from last year’s 9.5 points and 7.5 rebounds. Nonetheless, he gave reason to believe he’d be more of a force, averaging 13.2 points per game in the NCAA Tournament.
4. Michael Carter-Williams, So., Syracuse – With Scoop Jardine, Dion Waiters and Brandon Triche ahead of him in the backcourt, Carter-Williams only saw the floor for 10.3 minutes per game as a frosh. Now Triche is the only one of that trio still with Syracuse, and Carter-Williams will receive many more minutes in 2012-13. His averages of 2.7 points, 2.1 assists and 0.8 steals are actually quite good, considering his playing time, and with a bigger role, expect bigger things.
3. Wayne Blackshear, So., Louisville – A shoulder injury sidelined Blackshear for the first 24 games of 2011-12, and even when he returned, the injury nagged him, hampering his production. But Blackshear was a top recruit and showed flashes of his potential against West Virginia on Feb. 11 and then Kentucky in the Final Four. Now that he is healthy, Blackshear should play more like the guy who scored nine points in 14 minutes at the Final Four than the guy who played one minute in a loss to South Florida.
2. Fuquan Edwin, Jr., Seton Hall – Edwin’s play in Spain didn’t indicate a breakout on the horizon, as he played more like the Edwin of a year ago. But four games is a limited sample size, and with Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope no longer in the lineup, Edwin, who averaged 12.5 points and led the nation with three steals per game as a sophomore, should have a big year.
1. Otto Porter, So., Georgetown – Just a sophomore, Porter is Georgetown’s top returning scorer following the departures of Henry Sims, Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson. He finished 2011-12 on a tear, averaging 15.6 points over the last five games, and should hit the ground running in 2012-13.