Breakout players: Ross, Napier, Pressey top 2011-12's new stars

by | CBSSports.com College Basketball Insider
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It could be Terrence Ross' turn to lead the Huskies with Isaiah Thomas gone. (Getty Images)  
It could be Terrence Ross' turn to lead the Huskies with Isaiah Thomas gone. (Getty Images)  

The easy part is picking the Jared Sullingers, the ones who already have proven their worth in college basketball.

What's difficult? Trying to predict which returning guys will emerge as the next crop of impact guys.

But that's what we're here for -- to give you 25 guys who will take a quantum leap this season:

Breakout players

1. Terrence Ross, 6-6, SG, Soph., Washington -- Don't be surprised if he winds up being the Huskies' leading scorer and top player. Only averaged eight points as a freshman, but now that Isaiah Thomas is gone they'll be plenty of scoring to go around.

2. Shabazz Napier, 6-0, PG, Soph., UConn -- He was Kemba Walker's understudy last year, but now more will be expected of Napier. He's tough, shoots it much better than he showed a year ago -- and can really guard. The key for him will be continuing to learn how to run the team.

3. Phil Pressey, 5-9, PG, Soph., Missouri -- Frank Haith will do what Mike Anderson should have done a year ago: Hand the ball to Pressey and let him go. He's a blur and will get his teammates easy looks. Averaged 5.8 points and 3.9 assists last season. Those numbers will increase significantly his sophomore campaign.

4. Brandon Paul, 6-4, SG, Jr., Illinois -- Don't be shocked if he leads the Illini in scoring. Needs to be more consistent, but with Demetri McCamey gone, he has no choice.

5. Kelsey Barlow, 6-5, SG, Jr., Purdue -- Was suspended towards the end of last season, but as long as he stays in line, he should be one of the top players on the team. Averaged only 5.1 points as a sophomore.

6. Keith Appling, 6-1, G, Soph., Michigan State -- Now that Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers graduated and Chris Allen and Korie Lucious transferred, Appling will have no choice but to step up. It may take some time, but he'll be one of the league's better guards by the end of the year.

7. Michael Snaer, 6-5, SG, Jr., Florida State -- He's averaged 8.8 points each of the past two seasons, but he's got all the tools to be an offensive star. Now with the departure of Derwin Kitchen and Chris Singleton -- and two years under his belt -- his opportunity has arrived.

8. Peyton Siva, 5-11, PG, Jr., Louisville -- Put up solid numbers a year ago (9.9 ppg, 5.2 apg), but is ready to emerge as a guy who makes his teammates better and also as a leader. He'll be the catalyst for Rick Pitino.

9. Will Sheehey, 6-6, 195, SF, Soph., Indiana -- Averaged only 4.8 points a year ago, but now he's added a perimeter shot to his athleticism -- and look for him to be a major contributor for the Hoosiers this season.

10. J.J. Moore, 6-6, SG, Soph., Pittsburgh -- Moore is talented, but there just wasn't much room for him to get on the court a year ago with Gilbert Brown and Brad Wanamaker around. Those guys are gone -- and Moore will become a significant contributor for the Panthers.

11. Andrew Smith, 6-11, C, Jr., Butler -- He was a terrific supporting actor last season for Brad Stevens, but now -- with Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack gone -- he'll need to be the focal point of the offense. He's a big, strong and skilled post player who should dominate opposing Horizon League centers.

12. Erik Murphy, 6-10, PF, Jr., Florida -- Now that Vernon Macklin, Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus are have departed, Murphy will get a chance to start at power forward. He logged about 11 minutes a game last season and the skilled forward should get 25 minutes per contest this year.

13. Zeke Marshall, 7-0, C, Jr., Akron -- This should finally be the year that Marshall, a talented former Top 100 player, emerges as a star. He had a solid sophomore season, averaging 8.5 points, 4.9 boards and 2.6 blocks. But expect him to dominate the MAC this season.

14. Kyle Casey, 6-7, SF, Jr., Harvard -- He averaged 10.7 points and six boards per game last season for the Crimson despite playing virtually all year with a serious foot injury. He could wind up being the Ivy League's Player of the Year.

15. Jeromie Hill, 6-8, F, Soph., UT-San Antonio -- The Aussie put up 13.4 points and 6.6 boards last season, but don't be shocked if he's the most valuable player in the Southland -- and maybe even a future pro.

16. Lorenzo Brown, 6-5, G, Soph., N.C. State -- With Ryan Harrow transferring out, look for Brown to have the ball in his hands more. He's a stat-stuffer who should improve upon his 9.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists as a freshman.

17. Rodney Williams, 6-7, SF, Jr., Minnesota -- The time is now for Williams to finally show what he can do. He averaged 6.8 points and 3.5 boards last season, and he will step up for Tubby Smith.

18. Will Spradling, 6-3, G, Soph., Kansas State -- Averaged only 6.4 points last season, but with Jake Pullen gone, Spradling will have the ball in his hands much of the time. He makes good decisions and can shoot it.

19. Brady Jardine, 6-7, PF, Sr., Utah State -- Averaged 7.5 points and 7.0 boards a year ago -- and the scoring numbers should rise considerably this season.

20. Garrett Stutz, 7-0, C, Sr., Wichita State -- Has been a role guy for three years, but could wind up leading the Shockers in scoring this season. Averaged 7.2 points and 3.5 boards a year ago in less than 15 minutes per contest.

21. Dundrecous Nelson, 5-11, G, Soph., Ole Miss -- Scored 7.2 points in about 15 minutes per game last season, but will start for Andy Kennedy and be a focal point of the offense.

22. Darien Brothers, 6-3, G, Jr., Richmond -- The Spiders lost a ton off last year's team -- Kevin Anderson, Justin Harper and Dan Geriot. Now look for Brothers to become Chris Mooney's next star.

23. Clint Chapman, 6-10, C, Sr., Texas -- Is there really any choice? He was redshirted last season because Rick Barnes knew how much he'd need him this year. Chapman has the tools to be a quality big man.

24. Dwight Powell, 6-8, PF, Soph., Stanford -- The Cardinal likely will have balanced scoring, but expect Powell to take a major step forward from last year's freshman campaign in which he averaged 8.1 points and 5.2 boards.

25. Dominique Ferguson, 6-8, F, Soph., FIU -- Wasn't able to practice prior to the start of the season and had to sit the first semester. Averaged 7.1 points after becoming eligible, but should be a force in the Sun Belt this year.

2011-12 Season Preview
DateFeatureDateFeature
Oct. 13Preseason Top 25 (and one) Nov. 1Top freshmen
 Projected NCAA tournament field Nov. 2Top transfers
 Goodman and Parrish bracket picks Nov. 3Under the radar players
Oct. 14Team profiles: 'Cuse | UConn | UK | UNC Nov. 4Breakout players
Oct. 17Preseason All-Americans Nov. 5Best shooters
Oct. 18Top 100 players Nov. 6Best defensive players
Oct. 19Positional rankings: Point guards Nov. 768 things ...
Oct. 20Positional rankings: Wing men Nov. 8Ranking the preseason tourneys
Oct. 21Positional rankings: Big men Nov. 950 can't miss games
   Nov. 10Coaches on the Hot Seat

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