Talk hoops all year long in Luke Winn's blog, a journal of commentary, news and reader-driven discussions about the college game.
10/04/2006 03:20:00 PM
Presenting ... The All-Breakout Team
DeVon Hardin is already a defensive force for the Bears, but will his offensive game to improve this year?
Ten days 'til Midnight Madness, and there's something I wanted to get a jump on in the Blog: staking claim to an All-Breakout Team for 2006-07. Not freshmen, not transfers -- just returnees who are ready to elevate their profiles from "glue guy" or "role player" into something more significant. Here's the criteria for player selection: Only those who were active last season (not redshirting or injured) are eligible. The player cannot be one of the top two scorers in his team's starting lineup from '05-06, nor can he have been considered one of the team's on-court leaders. And finally, his minutes-played average must be sub-30. Herewith, the starting five, bolstered by stats from kenpom.com:
G: Ronald Ramon, Pitt, Junior
LAST SEASON: 8.0 points, 2.2 assists in 24.9 minutes/game
BREAKOUT FORMULA: The Panthers operated under a low-efficiency arrangement last season. Their point guard and leader, Carl Krauser, took an overwhelming amount of the team's shots -- 391, compared to star center Aaron Gray's 323 and Ramon's 175. The problem? Krauser was hardly the team's most efficient player: He fired at a pedestrian 40.2 percent clip from the field and 36.8 from long distance.
The division of labor in Pitt's backcourt will be more traditional this year: Levance Fields will handle the ball and distribute, and Ramon will likely fill some of the 15-points-per-game scoring void left by Krauser. Putting the ball in Ramon's hands should pay off: With limited opportunities in '05-06, he led the Big East in 3-point percentage at 50.8 during conference games. More importantly, Ramon's personal efficiency rating of 124.6 was more than 19 points higher than either Krauser's (104.5) or Gray's (105.3). Those numbers mean that if one had given Krauser and Ramon 100 possessions each to score last season, Ramon would have produced 20.1 more points than his fellow Bronx product.
G: Maureece Rice, George Washington, Junior
LAST SEASON: 12.6 points, 2.8 assists in 25.8 minutes/game
BREAKOUT FORMULA: Rice is a near-lock for a junior-year explosion, seeing that he averaged double-figures last season without starting a game, and only one of the Colonials' five starters -- senior point guard Carl Elliott -- is back. Rice, who's the all-time leading scorer in Philadelphia prep history, knows how to score in bunches, and is hardly afraid to shoot: When he was on the floor in '05-06, he took a higher percentage of GW's shots (27.1) than any other player -- and was reasonably efficient doing it, seeing that his offensive rating (111.8) was second on the team. A starting role, raw scoring ability and an ability to take care of the ball (his turnover rate of 15.6 percent was the lowest among GW's guards) could equal an 18-to-20 PPG season for Rice.
F: Jeff Adrien, UConn, Soph.
LAST SEASON: 6.5 points, 5.0 rebounds in 16.5 minutes/game
BREAKOUT FORMULA: Adrien's likely rise was something covered in the blog's look at UConn's new identity back on Sept. 21. Adrien's primary asset as a freshman was toughness; he provided the Huskies with interior muscle in times when coach Jim Calhoun was questioning the aggressiveness of upperclass post-men Josh Boone and Hilton Armstrong. Quietly (given that he was UConn's seventh-leading scorer), Adrien was an ultra productive on the stat sheet, shooting 61 percent from the field and posting rebounding percentages -- 14.1 on offense, 17.2 on defense -- the put Boone and Armstrong to shame. The Huskies' top six options are gone, five of them to the NBA, and it's Adrien's time to establish himself in the lane.
F: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, UCLA, Soph.
LAST SEASON: 9.1 points, 8.2 rebounds in 29.5 minutes/game
BREAKOUT FORMULA: I know what you're thinking: way too obvious of a pick. Fine. Mbah a Moute is no secret. The Cameroonian prince was a regular starter and a prolific rebounder as a freshman, and observers of UCLA in the NCAA tournament came away astonished at how active he was as an undersized power forward. The reason he makes this squad, though, is because he could average a double-double as a sophomore and get his name into the All-America mix. He said in a summer blog Q&A that he'll be playing the three and the four this season, but more perimeter time probably won't diminish his glasswork; he's athletic enough to rebound from anywhere on the floor.
C: DeVon Hardin, Cal, Junior
LAST SEASON: 7.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 48 blocks in 23.5 minutes/game
BREAKOUT FORMULA: All-American Leon Powe -- as well as his 20.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game -- are gone, and Hardin, who's 6-10 and wildly athletic, is now the Bears' big tree in the lane. Hardin was already a more menacing shot-blocker than Powe (he had 48 to Leon's 15 last season), and get this: the junior's glass-productivity numbers were actually very comparable to Powe's. Hardin grabbed 11.9 percent of the offensive rebounds available while he was on the floor, while Powe got 12.2; and Hardin pulled down 24.3 percent of defensive boards, compared to Powe's 24.6. The two question marks for Hardin are an offseason shoulder surgery (from which he's reportedly recovered) and whether he can become a legitimate force on offense. With increased minutes and a few decent moves in the post, Hardin could emerge as a force in the Pac-10.
Readers, do you agree with these picks? Discuss the breakout team and offer your write-in votes in the comments.
Keep an eye on BYU big man Trent Plaisted. He's got a sweet lefty jumper, length to defend and rebound and is fairly athletic for a lanky big man. Plays a lot like Andrew Bogut, but could end up being a better player...
One question I wanted to pose to the commenters: Does anyone think Drew Neitzel should be on this list? I had him under consideration for a guard spot, but am far more convinced that Ramon/Rice will have bigger years.
Luke, you disappoint me. You know perfectly well about the development of players in the Bo Ryan system, and clearly Brian Butch is ready to fulfill his potential in his third year on the court. He has shown flashes of dominance in the past, albeit very brief flashes, but with defenses having to focus on Alando Tucker and hopefully an improved Kammron Taylor, Butch's game should be at a point where he can exploit defenses and have a true breakout year.
Concerning Drew Neitzel: no way should he be on the list. In the past he has shown a startling lack of confidence at times, and lacks the initiative to control a game. He should top out in college as about a 10 point 7 assist a game player. Those numbers are good, but not worthy of being compared to the potential numbers of the rest of the players mentioned.
I think everyone overlooks Washington State Basketball Team but they have a great player in Chris Matthews. If you watch the games he showed some great poise for a freshman. Dude has a sweet jumper. Chris and team will make Washington State respectable in the PAC-10
You know, I was going to complain about yet another national sports article offering predictions about individual players and not including any UK guys. But then I realized that will make it even better. It's not often the Cats get to fly under the radar, but after such a subpar season last year they're loaded with upperclassmen that are itching to explode (Ramel Bradley, Randolph Morris, Joe Crawford, even Bobby Perry if he continues his NCAA tourney play). They've also got a freshman class of "glue-guys" that are already making their mark on this team. So go on ignoring them. It'll be fun to be the unknown underdog this year.
Okay, okay...I'm a little biased as a Memphis fan, but why not the entire probable starting line. Not a single player averaged over 30mpg, but yet all have the potential (and proved it at various times of last year) to be HUGE stars. With the likes of Carney, Williams and Washington gone, all of the returning players have a chance to be double digit scorers.
Luke, I want to preface this by saying that I thoroughly enjoy reading your articles and I think you give great, objective analysis. The only thing I question is how much weight you seem to give statistics like scoring rating and rebounds percetanges etc. I just think its risky to predict big seasons from players based on statistics that assume the player played more regularly (like per minute averages). For example, Devon Hardin had some type of rebound statistic that were a bit higher than Leon Powe which suggest that he has the potential to eclipse what Powe did at a Cal rebounding wise. While this might be true, it doesn't take into account that fact that perhaps people put more attention on blocking out Leon Power, maybe two bodies on him, instead of one, which allowed Hardin more space to go after boards....Just a thought though. thanks for the all the good work.
to the last anon: you make a good point about Hardin. There's no way I expect him to get double-digit boards next year -- especially because he tends to get in foul trouble -- but I still think the productivity numbers are pretty important. I know NBA scouts look at them; I remember being told very early last season by a scout that Jo Noah was a wildly productive player ... they had been charting him well before his breakout ... and that was a pretty solid forecast.
Luke, How is Josh McRoberts not one of your breakout players? Last year he averaged 24.5 mpg, 8.7 ppg, and 5.3 rpg playing out of position with Shelden Williams dominating the post for Duke. With Williams (and Redick) gone for the Devils, Coach K will be relying on McRoberts to fill the post. He's hugely talented and the Blue Devil offense has always run through a single strong post presence. Think 1st-team ACC. Think Tyler Hansbrough...only better.
I'll start by saying that I'm a die-hard UK fan so I know my perspective may be a tad skewed. That being said, what about Bobby Perry? He really established himself during the NCAA tourney last year.
Is he as talented as the guys you listed, maybe, maybe not. He can hit the 3 and if he continues the trend of taking it the basket that he started in last year's tourney, he's a tough player to defend.
For the season he averaged 7 pts, 4 rebounds, but in the 2 tournament games, he had 25/7 against UAB and 20/7 against UConn, going a combined 14-14 from the line in those games.
With the addition of our new strength & conditioning coach to help him continue the development of the toughness he displayed in the tourney, I think the chances for Perry to have a break-out year are there. Maybe he could be the 6th man :-)
I think you should have mentioned Mike Jones of Maryland. Last year Jones averaged 10.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game, but now has the chance to blow those numbers away. He shot a team-best 41 percent from three-point range and in the last 15 games (as a starter) averaged 13.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, and shot 90-percent from the free throw. He scored in double figures 17 times as a junior and grabbed at least five rebounds on ten occasions, in fact he is one of the best rebounding guards in the country.
Everyone overlooks the WSU Basketball program because they haven't done anything for over a decade. Chris Matthews isn't a bad player, but until WSU does something in the Pac-10 (like make a post-season tournament) don't expect him to beat out other Pac-10 players like Justin Dentmon of UW or Mitch Johnson at Stanford.
Luke - thanks for reaching FAR out West on the Devon Hardin rec. I saw him play live many times last year. He is raw, a bull-in-the-China cabinet . . and has extraordinary upside. An animal in the lane. Watch out.
how about DJ White for Indiana? He has had his battles with injuries in the past, but he's arguably the most talented big guy in the big 10 (I'm holding out on Oden until I see him in a college game), and he's bigger and better coming into this year then he has been in the past.
Justin Dentmon, PG at UW -- averaged 8.5 pts, 3.8 assists, 1.5 steals per game as a true frosh. With Brandon Roy, Bobby Jones, and Jamal Williams now gone, Dentmon will be much more of a scoring threat this season and is quite capable of creating his own offense, getting open for the J or taking it to the rack. Many think that Dentmon could leave for the NBA if he has a big year. He could be huge for UW this season.
I think eveyone underestimates UW sophmore Marcus Landry. This guy will be a handfull for opposing defenses. Before leaving the team for academic reasons, UW was close to a top 10 team. After Marcus (and Stiemsma) left, they were a bubble tournament team. Marcus Landry's impact will be felt around the country when Wisconsin challenges OSU and Illinois for the right for a big 10 crown.
Gonzaga's Jeremy Pargo! With the seasoned Derek Raivio and untested Josh Heytvelt drawing the attention, Jeremy will show speed, savvy, and aggressiveness at both ends that will bring him into prominance.
Rodney Stuckey...sure he plays in the Big Sky, but this guy absolutely tore down the league last year as a true freshmen, taking home top frosh and top player awards for the league. There is no doubt in my mind that he will repeat and build on last years success.
I'm lookin forward to a lot of the guys from the philly area to step it up this year, Mike Cook (pitt), Mustafah Shakur(arizona), Maureece Rice (GW), and not to mention Sean Singletary (VA). These guys come from an area who breed tough basketball players who are hungry. So don't be suprised if you began to hear they're names a lot more.
Villanova's Shane Clark and Dante Cunningham are both poised for breakout years. Clark was a top 100 recruit before coming to Villanova. He was raw last year, but should develop nicely in the off season.
Dante Cunningham was a role player last year behind Lowry, Ray and Foye, but could be in for a break out season this year as he is asked to do more.
Demarcus Nelson and Josh McRoberts? Tyler Hansbrough, only better? Get real. Those guys aren't going to carry Duke on theor backs, a team who, if they're lucky may finish third only to North Carolina and Boston College.
Somebody on Gonzaga's squad - so much of the team deferred to Morrison and Batista last year that a couple people are going to have to come up extra big this next year to replace all that scoring (and they will). Who it'll be though... who knows. My money's on Altidor-Cespedes, who made something like 13 3-pt attempts in a row over 3 games last year and calmly dropped in the game winner in GU's final WCC game against USF at the buzzer. Plus, he's one of the fastest and most athletic players on the team. PMAC's shown he can score, even under pressure, he's just preferred to defer to other players in the past. This year, he's going to have to step up. And he will.
All you Washington fans are smoking crack if you think Dentmon deserves to be on this list before Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Dentmon is going to have a much more challenging year without Brandon Roy carrying that team.
I hate Duke....hate 'em. BUT, Josh McRoberts is going to have a monster year. He should be on the top of this list.
Alas, when he comes to Chapel Hill, we'll send him out on a rail just like everyone else this year. We're cuttin down the nets this year.
Marquise Gray??? Are you kidding me. I go to MSU (although I am a DIE-HARD UK fan, GO BIG BLUE) and you must be crazy to think he's ever going to do anything at MSU. He just doesnt have the hustle, guts, or work ethic to ever be a big time player. Unfortunately for MSU, I think they will be lucky to make the field of 64 with the loss of Davis, Ager, and Brown......not to mention a sub-par frosh class. UK on the other hand, just like another blogger said is gonna fly in under the radar. Rondo, as talented as he is, did nothing but hold us back last year by constantly trying to impress the scouts rather than playing true UK ball, TEAM BALL. With a starting lineup of Morris, Crawford(my breakout player), Perry, Bradley, and Thomas....and a great incomming frosh class, I dont see any holes in the line-up. Heck, UK shoulda beat UCONN last year if only they could of prevented them from getting those crucial offensive rebounds off of missed free throws. I would love to hear what REALLY thinks about UK this year.
The pick of Ronald Ramon is right on the head. People have high hopes for Aaron Gray this year, but I don't think he will actually improve his numbers much if any. He just doesn't have the fire to do it. Someone has to pick up that scoring of Krauser and Ramon should take a big chunk of that.
I think a G/F out of Oklahoma Nate Carter is going to have a big year in the Big XII. With the departures of Coach Sampson and two leading scorers Taj Gray and T. Everett he has no choice but to carry the load. Expect the 6ppg and 3.7rpg to double this year.
mbah a moute is on the list, the ucla kid that he should be ahead of is darren collison, and if mustafa shakur continues his play as the most overrated player in the pac10, dentmon should be the best point guard in the pac. this year he will have weapons around him instead of a go to guy like roy last year, so assists and scoring should both go up
how about either Eric Devendorf or Daryl Watkins from Syracuse. Devendorf is one of the best scorers in the country, as he can take it to the basket and drain threes with a good percentace. As a junior last year, Watkins got better as the season went on, and some are even comparing him to Etan Thomas who was a great center in his Syracuse days. Hes a force on the boards, offensive and defensive, and he was second in the Big East last year in shot blocking, only behind Uconn's Armstrong.
JOSH SHIPP - UCLA Last summer, UCLA alum in the NBA were calling him the best player on the Bruins squad - then he got injured, redshirted, and was forgotten. Don't be surprised when he elevates his game above teammates Afflalo, Mbah a Moute, and Collison.
Have you even seen SDSU play? I am really excited about the up coming season. SDSU will be a Top 25 team coming into the NCAA tourny hitting on all cylinders just like they did last year while winning the MWC. How the could you not have them in the Top 32 in the Power Ranking? With the regining MWC Conference Player of the Year coming back in Brandon Health, how could you not pick them in the Power Rankings. Please revise you picks. The Mountain West Conference will be the MVC this year. Believe that. SDSU baby, everybody better recongize. Even though our football and baseball suck, our basketball team will make us proud. S-D-S-U SDSU fight fight fight!!!
Luke - another category of potential "break out" player is someone with talent and potential who might thrive in a new environment or under a different head coach.
For example, last year you could have looked at Bruce Pearl's roster at Tennessee, assessed who would benefit the most from his system and predicted a breakout player or two.
The five players you listed will be working in the same system as they did last year. Who among transfers or playing for a new coach might be ready for a spotlight? Maybe someone at Temple who had been bottled up by Chaney?
J.r. Giddens can do two things. Shoot the 3 and dunk the ball. Everyone know that he couldn't dribble the ball past Shawn Bradley if his life was on the line. GO LOBOS???? LOL, have fun with that one. He was horrible at Kansas. Every time he was guarded he would turn it over. None of what I just stated was an exaggeration. Thank god KU got rid of J.R. and got a new player that could dunk, shoot the 3, AND DRIBBLE THE FREAKIN BALL!!! Brandon Rush is the man.
How about Tasmin Mitchell of LSU. He came in with higher creditials than Tyrus Thomas and was content to play second fiddle to the big men. This year he will show the country what La. basketball analysts have know for the past five years!!!!!!