College basketball's top 20 breakout players for the 2016-17 season
Who are the guys that should take a big-time leap this season? We've got your answers
It's breakout player time!
Yes, let's take a look at the season forthcoming and give you an idea of what players should become borderline stars -- if not outright stars -- for their teams this year. These are the guys that have showed flashes in the past year or two, but now's the time for their production and playing time to take a big jump. Take a look at how successful we've been at this over the years. You're going to get a good idea of some rising stars here.
There are rules, of course. Here are the boundaries when considering who qualifies for breakout-player status:
Some guys are already so prominent on their teams that even if they statistically qualify, labeling them as a "breakout player" seems disingenuous (examples: Kasey Hill at Florida, Przemek Karnowski at Gonzaga).
Anyway, let's get to it. Mark 'em down and track them as soon as the games start in November. Here are 20 prime candidates to break out in college basketball in 2016-17.
Jalen Adams, UConn
Vitals: 6-3 | Point Guard | Sophomore
Will have the reins on UConn's offense. He was one of the best freshmen in the AAC last season. Adams' defense -- both on-ball and patrolling the lanes -- is very good. I'm expecting an assist rate north of 25 percent, too. UConn's flying juuuuust a little bit under the radar right now. Adams might negate that fact within the season's first two weeks.
Kadeem Allen, Arizona
Vitals: 6-3 | Point Guard | Senior
The more I look at what Arizona has this season, the more I love this team. And Allen's no given to be a breakout player, but the way I see it is, the team has a lot of first-year guys in the fold: Ray Smith, Kobi Simmons, Lauri Markkanen, Rawle Alkins. Allonzo Trier is obviously going to a big factor. But Allen is a senior, and if he had T.J. McConnell-like impact in his final season, it would not shock me one bit. Zona's loaded, and Allen's not a top-three player of skill or threat, but watch his value increase as the season goes on. Very strong on defense, too.
OG Anunoby, Indiana
Vitals: 6-8 | Small Forward | Sophomore
A tremendous athlete with loads of potential. If we were only listing the top five breakout candidates for this season, he'd crack the list. I think he'll be that good, that important to Tom Crean's team this season. His usage numbers should blow up -- and he's really fun to watch. As electric a player Indiana's had since Victor Oladipo.
Carlton Bragg, Kansas
Vitals: 6-10 | Power Forward | Sophomore
Josh Jackson's going to be the best player on Kansas' roster this year, but Bragg should almost definitely have a big season. He's a narrowly built 3 or 4 man. The key is, I think he'll be able to grasp Bill Self's concepts more and more, and so his playing time (8.9 minutes per game last season) will more than double. Of all the players on this list, Bragg could have the highest year-to-year ceiling when considering what he did last season to what he can do in 2016-17.
Mikal Bridges, Villanova
Vitals: 6-7 | Small Forward | Sophomore
Villanova is loaded with breakout-player candidates. Phil Booth, Jalen Brunson and Darryl Reynolds all qualify, but Bridges is the most talented and most likely guy to truly become a star this season. A likely future first-round pick, Bridges has NBA length, tremendous balance to his game and is still just uncovering the surface of his potential. He's never going to have a game wherein he goes off for 30 points or anything, but he's ready to step in and be a guy that makes two or three huge plays every single game.
Jevon Carter, West Virginia
Vitals: 6-2 | Combo Guard | Junior
Unfamiliar? Get familiar. WVU will pop in and out of the rankings this year because of Carter. He's going to be a do-it-all guy for Bob Huggins this season. I'm predicting 12 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals. Absolutely essential guy for the Mountaineers this season. Expect big things.
Kyron Cartwright, Providence
Vitals: 5-11 | Point Guard | Junior
Ben Bentil (now in the NBA, something nobody was forecasting last September) was the breakout player last season. I'm not putting it past Ed Cooley to have another player in 2016-17 explode on the stat sheet. Cartwright is going to be the second most important player on PC this season (Rodney Bullock is probably going to score north of 15 per game). Cartwright will likely be near the top of the Big East in assists, and he'll be playing almost 35 minutes game, I'd guess.
Zylan Cheatham, San Diego State
Vitals: 6-9 | Small Forward | Sophomore
Averaged nearly 7.9 points and 5.4 rebounds as a freshman last season. San Diego State has made a habit of building its offenses around guys between 6-5 and 6-8. Cheathem won't be the absolute focal point, but I'd be surprised if he didn't score at least 12 per game, and the Aztecs are never not good anymore.
Markel Crawford, Memphis
Vitals: 6-6 | Shooting Guard | Junior
Memphis is a mystery because you've got a new coach there (Tubby Smith) and a wiping of what was under Josh Pastner. Picking Crawford here is a a small "risk," but every year we get a few guys who truly pop and it's not an expected turn of events. I think Crawford's got the ability to be a top-three player for the Tigers this season.
Matthew Fisher-Davis, Vanderbilt
Vitals: 6-5 | Wing | Junior
Qualifies because he was just under 10 points per game last season (9.7), and he'll be the most important player in Bryce Drew's first season in Nasvhille. He's capable of grabbing four boards a game, and Drew will likely make his life a lot of fun this year, given how many opportunities will open up for him in that offense. He'll have a shot at being All-SEC First Team.
Jessie Govan, Georgetown
Vitals: 6-10 | Center | Sophomore
At the moment, he's projected as a first-round pick over at Draft Express. Georgetown needs a big year in a big way for John Thompson III. Govan's an under-the-radar player of serious value. He's long, can block shots and will almost certainly vault his field goal percentage from 48 (last season's mark) to the mid-50s. Plus, he'll be one of the best rebounders in the Big East. It's nice to see Georgetown once again have a reliable man in the middle.
Isaiah Hicks, North Carolina
Vitals: 6-9 | Combo Forward | Senior
Hicks will be required to be a breakout player, essentially. The Tar Heels lose Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson, the latter of which was valued as the most important all-around player in college basketball last year, according to KenPom.com. Hicks, now a senior, should bring in at least 12 points and eight boards per game -- at least -- by nature of needing to be on the floor for upward of 28 minutes per game. The Tar Heels should have the personnel to challenge for an ACC title.
D.J. Hogg, Texas A&M
Vitals: 6-9 | Small Forward | Sophomore
Can shoot from anywhere, has a big body. Kyle Wiltjer-type, really. I'd be stunned if Hogg doesn't average north of two 3s per game, and if he's not shooting 38 percent or better from deep. He'll be touching the ball a lot more this season; A&M's offense will also have a great inside-out dynamic due to Hogg and Tyler Davis, who is an absolute beast. If Hogg develops the ability to score at all three levels throughout the year, he'll be one of the five biggest players of impact on his team vs. anyone else on this list.
Khadeem Lattin, Oklahoma
Vitals: 6-9 | Power Forward | Junior
Lattin's had a really strong offseason, is in tremendous shape, and the coaching staff believes he's going to be capable of making a significant jump in offensive production. He's a lock to average north of eight rebounds, too. Remember, the Sooners not only lose do-it-all offensive wizard Buddy Hield, but Isaiah Cousins and Ryan Spangler are gone as well. That's three of OU's four most important offensive players from last season. Lattin will step in and contribute from game one.
J.P. Macura, Xavier
Vitals: 6-5 | Shooting Guard | Junior
Had some good moments last season. Xavier's going to be a top-10 team again, and Macura should b scoring in the double digits, rebounding more than four boards per game and causing a nuisance for other teams. He's fesity, and X will need him in order to be a Final Four contender.
Markis McDuffie, Wichita State
Vitals: 6-8 | Wing | Sophomore
McDuffie is a stud athlete, tremendous dunker -- but so much more. Wichita State will need production now that Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker have graduated. McDuffie can be a star. If he stays healthy, he seems a near-lock to be a top-50 player in college hoops. He averaged 7.4 points and 3.3 rebounds last season. Expect those stats to double.
Donovan Mitchell, Louisville
Vitals: 6-3 | Shooting Guard | Sophomore
Awesome player, a guy not on a lot of mock draft lists right now, in terms of being a 2017 selection, but it wouldn't be a surprise to me at all if that changes by January. Mitchell's shooting must improve, and if it does, he'll become a top-10 player in the ACC. The Cardinals will need his burst and athleticism -- and Louisville should be extremely aggressive defensively, which will also be to Mitchell's benefit.
Kerwin Roach Jr., Texas
Vitals: 6-4 | Shooting Guard | Sophomore
Crazy athlete who will have more opportunities to touch the ball this season. We've already seen how great he is at flying. Roach averaging double figures in scoring and seeing north of 25 minutes per game is what he's on pace for. Texas is going to be a very fun team, and Roach is a big part of that. He won't be UT's most important player, but he might be the most dynamic.
Devin Robinson, Florida
Vitals: 6-8 | Small Forward | Junior
Probably going to wind up getting drafted. Robinson is Florida's most talented player, and if the Gators are going to crack through to the NCAA Tournament (I'd give 'em a 50-50 shot right now), he'll need to be huge. Would love to see him break out this season. Wonder how much if it will be tied to Kasey Hill's playmaking.
Kameron Rooks, Cal
Vitals: 7-0 | Center | Junior
Cal's star is going to be Ivan Rabb. And Rabb's going to get plenty of double teams. Rooks will benefit. Expect a pop in his usage percentage, scoring numbers and time on the floor. The Golden Bears have a lot to look forward to, even if this roster doesn't seem as stacked as it was a year ago. Rooks will also benefit because I think Jabari Bird's going to have a fine final season. Rooks is the vital third piece. College hoops only gets a handful of 7-foot guys who can have reliable impact. Would surprise me if Rooks didn't become that this season.
CBS Sports HQ Daily Newsletter
Get the best highlights and stories - yeah, just the good stuff handpicked by our team to start your day.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox for the latest sports news.
There was an error processing your subscription.
A look at five of the best and worst bets plus the long shots to consider to win it all
Even after passing on a raise, Bennett and his wife donated $500K to a career program at the...
Matt Norlander provides a hearty info-drop on a lot of the big-picture items to know heading...
Clarke will be the No. 4 recruit in the Class of 2020 after reclassifying to play at UK a season...
Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander also discuss the fascinating recruitment of 5-star guard Cade...
Here are the teams who could be make some noise in the Big Dance after missing out last season