College hoops’ unwanted storyline – who are the stars? – is typical for this time of year. Hell, for most of the season. Casual fans spend most of March figuring out who’s who just in time to fill out their brackets.
But this isn’t one of those years.
One of the NBA lockout’s few upsides was that it encouraged several young stars to stay in school, rather than head to the pros early. Sure, Jimmer and Kemba are gone, but they were never gonna be around this season. Fredette was a senior and Walker graduated early. Besides, but when North Carolina returns its entire starting five, Kentucky has a guy touted as the best player in America and Ohio State has its All-America center for at least another season, there’s not much to complain about. But someone did it anyway.
I can’t completely fault the AP for going that route since it looked ahead and included five guys who’ll be stars this season, but why include Jared Sullinger, Terrence Jones and Harrison Barnes as ones to watch this year? Even casual fans already know about them.
Sullinger, the Buckeyes’ burly big man who’s back trimmer and fitter for another shot at the Final Four. Barnes was the first freshman ever voted to the preseason All-America team and plays for UNC. He was on national TV last season more than Jimmer Fredette was his entire career. And Jones was the latest Wildcats talent to star as a freshmen (ask John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins about that) and seems ready to be even bigger this season.
Those guys won’t be breakout stars. They already are stars.
You want breakout players for a casual fan? Here’s a list of guys who aren’t at hoops powers, but are a sight to behold for sheer athleticism, scoring ability and overall talent. You get a chance to watch them between now and March, do it:
- Jared Cunningham, Oregon State
- Matthew Dellavedova, St. Mary’s
- Malcolm Grant, Miami
- JaMychal Green, Alabama
- Reggie Hamilton, Oakland
- Orlando Johnson, Santa Barbara
- Ray McCallum, Detroit
- C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
- Javon McCrea, Buffalo
- Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota
- Casper Ware, Long Beach State
- Got any complaints about our preseason All-America team?
- Know your stars? This site’s been reviewing their plays
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