College Basketballs Breakout Stars

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Every year, before the season starts, we put together a list of players with a chance to take a major step forward during the season.

Sometimes we nail our picks because they’re too obvious to avoid – think Grayson Allen, Ben Bentil and Dillon Brooks.

Sometimes, we actually look savvy, like when we said Patrick McCaw would be the best player at UNLV. 

And then sometimes, we ruin all our credibility by saying Malik Pope could play his way into being a lottery pick.

It’s all a guessing game, really, and we’ll call our guesses quasi-educated. 

At any rate, here are the 16 players that we think will be 2016-17’s Breakout Stars.

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Donovan Mitchell and Deng Adel, Louisville

Mitchell was one of my favorite players in the Class of 2015, and that did not change during the course of the 2015-16 season. He saw limited minutes early in the year, but by the end of ACC play, he was showing flashes of just how good he can be. Mitchell is a perfect fit for the style that Rick Pitino’s teams play. He’s a strong, athletic combo-guard that is a nightmate defensively and can play both on and off the ball offensively. He needs to get more consistent shooting the ball from the perimeter, but if he does, don’t be shocked to see Mitchell play his way into the mix as a first-team all-ACC candidate.

And, believe it or not, Adel may actually be the better of the two. His freshman season was derailed by injuries, but Adel has been one of the best players in Louisville practices since he arrived on campus. One of the reasons that Pitino brought in a pair of grad transfers for the 2015-16 season was that he knew how good that freshman class would be in time while also being aware of the fact that they needed a year of seasoning at the college level. Adel and Mitchell got that last season. It will pay dividends this year.

Jalen Adams, UConn

Kevin Ollie brought recruited Jalen Adams with the intention of turning over the reins of the program to him eventually. Adams, who hails from the same area of Boston that Shabazz Napier grew up, appears ready to take over that role this year. UConn has an impressive amount of talent on their roster this season, but if the Huskies are going to have a chance to live up to the expectations of that fan base, they are going to need Adams to come-of-age this season. He had an up-and-down freshman year, but there were some performances – 19 points at Cincinnati, 22 points vs. the Bearcats in the AAC tournament, 11 points and eight assists vs. Temple – that showed just how good he can be.

O.G. Anunoby, Indiana

Seeing Anunoby’s name on a list like this shouldn’t shock you, not with the way that he played at the end of last season or with the amount of NBA Draft hype that he has entering this season. But here’s the thing about Anunoby: Part of his appeal as a pro is that he’s an ideal role player. Players that have the size to guard a four, the quickness to guard a one, the ability to knock down threes and attack close outs, and the willingness to accept a role are so valuable. That may as well be a scouting report on Anunoby. So while he projects as a very good pro and should prove that this season, it may not be a situation where that shows up in the box score every night.

LEAGUE PREVIEWS: Big 12 | ACC | Pac-12 | Big Ten | SECMid-Majors

DES MOINES, IA - MARCH 17: OG Anunoby #3 of the Indiana Hoosiers shoots a reverse dunk over Chuck Ester #0 of the Chattanooga Mocs in the second half during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena on March 17, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
OG Anunoby (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Carlton Bragg, Kansas

Bragg is probably the fifth-most valuable starter on the Jayhawk roster. He’s also a good bet to lead the Jayhawks in scoring this season. The way that the Kansas offense works is that the ball gets funnelled to the guy that can score out of the post. That was Perry Ellis the last three seasons, and Ellis led the Jayhawks in scoring in two of those three years. Bragg may not be as good as Ellis just yet, but he is an adequate replacement given how skilled he is offensively. I wouldn’t be shocked if he averaged 15 points this season.

Edmond Sumner, Xavier

Yes, Sumner was a star last season. Yes, he’s already on the radar of teams drafting in the first round. Yes, he was an all-Big East player as a freshman. But Sumner is no where near a national name at this point, and, quite frankly, he is no where near being a finished product. He’s a guy that’s still learning about to play at his size (6-foot-6) and athleticism thanks to a late growth spurt. Sumner still has plenty of room to get better, and that should be scary.

Tyler Lydon, Syracuse

Lydon is the player that Jim Boeheim has been dreaming about for years. He’s a long, athletic 6-foot-9 shot-blocker that can also step out and knock down threes. I’m not sure that it’s possible to find a player that better fits the way that he plays than Lydon. One interesting thing to watch here: How much will Lydon be able to produce on a team that doesn’t have great point guard play? He’s a shot-maker. He’s not a shot-creator.

Ja’Quan Newton, Miami

Jim Larrañaga’s offense is at its best when it is built around a point guard who thrives in ball-screen actions. It was Shane Larkin in 2013, it was Angel Rodriguez last season and it will be Ja’Quan Newton this year. With Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan gone, Newton will inherit the role of Miami’s go-to guy, and he has the talent to be an all-ACC player.

POSITION RANKS: Lead Guards | Off Guards | Wings | Big Men

Miami guard Ja'Quan Newton (0) prepares to shoot against Charlotte during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Miami guard Ja’Quan Newton (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Chimezie Metu, USC

As a freshman, Metu averaged 6.4 points, 3.5 boards and 1.6 blocks in just over 18 minutes last season, and this year, playing on a team that lost starting big man Nikola Jovanovic, he’ll be asked to play a much bigger role. Metu has the athleticism that Andy Enfield loves in his centers, and he’s also added some weight and a perimeter jumper this offseason.

London Perrantes, Virginia

Everyone knows who London Perrantes is at this point. He’s won 89 games in his college basketball career. His arrival at UVA coincided with the Wahoos becoming one of the ACC’s best basketball programs. But there’s never been a point in time where he was going to be asked to carry as much of the load offensively as he’ll be asked to carry this season. I think we’re going to see a different Perrantes than we’ve become accustomed to with Malcolm Brogdon gone.

Markus McDuffie, Wichita State

No Fred VanVleet. No Ron Baker. It’s a new era in Wichita, and it will be McDuffie that is asked to usher it in. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-7 wing that showed impressive flashes as a freshman on a team that was dominated by upper-classmen. If the Shockers are to repeat as MVC champs, it will be because McDuffie realized his potential.

Isaac Haas, Purdue

Haas averaged 9.8 points in just over 14 minutes this past season, but his playing time was limited because the Boilermakers had a guy on the roster by the name of A.J. Hammons. Haas should be able to see upwards of 25-30 minutes this season, but the major question mark with him is endurance. He’s a 7-foot-2, 300-pound kid that looks like he’s chiseled out of stone. It’s hard work moving that body up and down the floor.

Shake Milton, SMU

Milton is a guy that is all over the radar of NBA scouts because he’s a 6-foot-5 point guard with a 6-foot-11 wingspan that shot 42.6 percent from three. He also averaged 10.5 points and 2.7 assists playing behind Nic Moore. If he can take over the lead guard role in SMU’s offense, he could play his way into being a first round pick.

D.J. Hogg, Texas A&M

Someone is going to have to do the scoring for the Aggies this season, and it might as well be Hogg, who, at 6-foot-8, is one of the best shooters in the SEC. His presence will be important for a team that is trying to create space for the massive Tyler Davis in the paint.

Deonte Burton, Iowa State

I’m torn on Burton. On the one hand, his ability to play a Draymond Green-esque role for the Cyclones will be critical to their ability to survive playing small-ball. He has the talent and the physical tools to do so. But he has yet to prove that he can be consistent at the Big 12 level. Let’s put it like this: If Iowa State turns out to be a top 25 team this season it will be because Burton proved he deserved to be on this list.

Markus Derrickson, Georgetown

The Hoyas have a couple of candidates for this list on their roster – some due to the fact they’ve underperformed for two seasons – but we’re going with Derrickson. He’s had a terrific summer and has the size and shooting ability that makes him a perfect fit in the offense that JT3 runs.

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 09: Chimezie Metu #4 of the USC Trojans dunks against the UCLA Bruins during a first-round game of the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 9, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. USC won 95-71. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Chimezie Metu (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Tennessee center Tamari Key out for season with blood clots

Saul Young/News Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee senior center Tamari Key will miss the rest of this season because of blood clots in her lungs, coach Kellie Harper said.

Doctors found the issue during testing. Key is expected to make a full recovery after treatment from University of Tennessee doctors, Harper said, adding that her sole concern is Key getting the medical care she needs to heal and return to full strength.

Key missed the first game of her career in a win Tuesday night over Chattanooga after playing her first 99.

“This is much bigger than basketball. We are so grateful that this medical condition was caught,” Harper said in a statement. “Our entire program will be right beside Tamari during this process and welcomes prayers and positive thoughts from Lady Vol Nation and beyond.”

The Lady Vols opened the season ranked fifth but currently are 5-5.

The 6-foot-6 Key from Cary, North Carolina, currently is Tennessee’s third-leading scorer averaging 8.4 points a game and averaged 4.2 rebounds per game. She started all 34 games as the Lady Vols reached their first Sweet 16 since 2016 last season and set the school record with 119 blocked shots.

Key had 18 blocks this season and 295 for her career, five away from becoming the eighth woman to reach that mark in Southeastern Conference history.

No. 7 Tennessee beats Eastern Kentucky, win streak hits 7

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tyreke Key scored 10 of the first 12 points of the second half and finished with 17, and No. 7 Tennessee overcame a sluggish first half and beat Eastern Kentucky 84-49 on Wednesday night.

“Tyreke is handling the ball now,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “That’s all new to him. He keeps getting better.”

The Volunteers (8-1) struggled in the first half but still built an 11-point lead over Eastern Kentucky (4-5) on the way to their seventh straight victory.

Key led Tennessee in scoring before leaving with a cramp in his right leg with 6:15 left in the game. Julian Phillips had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Zakai Zeigler and Uros Plavsic added 13 points apiece. Olivier Nkamhoua scored 10.

“I’m still settling in,” said Key, a transfer from Indiana State who didn’t play last year while recovering from an injury. “This is a new role. I’m taking steps every day and keep learning.”

Eastern Kentucky, which came into the game averaging 83.5 points, was held well below that total due to 17% (6 for 35) shooting from long range and 22% (15 for 68) overall. Leland Walker led the Colonels with 13 points.

It was the seventh time this season Tennessee has held its opponent to 50 or fewer points.

“(Tennessee) is the best defensive team in the country,” Eastern Kentucky coach A.W. Hamilton said. “I think they’re the best team in the country.”

At one point in the first half, Tennessee was shooting 20% and still leading by 10 points. The teams combined to shoot 4 of 32 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes. The Vols, who shot 24% (8 of 34), led 32-21 at the break.

“If we can’t make shots, can you find a way to win the game?” Barnes said. “When the shot’s not going in, find a way to play. The first thing we talk about is our defense.”

Tennessee shot 41 free throws. Phillips, a true freshman, was 7 of 10.

“(Phillips) has learned the pace of the game,” Barnes said. “I’m not sure there’s been a more effective freshman in the country (this season).”


Since its early season slip against Colorado, Tennessee has had a steady ascent in the rankings. The Vols’ next two games – neutral site (Brooklyn) against No, 13 Maryland (Dec. 11) and at No. 10 Arizona (Dec. 17) – will go a long way toward justifying the No. 7 ranking.


Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels’ run-and-gun style of offense had them averaging 83.5 points through their first eight games. They ran into a defensive buzz saw in Tennessee, which was yielding just over 51 points.

Tennessee: Santiago Vescovi sat out his second straight game with a shoulder problem. He is expected to be ready to play Sunday against Maryland. . The Vols have won seven in a row since their loss to Colorado.


Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels host Boyce College on Saturday.

Tennessee: Take on No. 13 Maryland on Sunday at the Hall of Fame Invitational in New York.

Hoggard scores career-high 23, Michigan State snaps 2-game skid

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Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A.J. Hoggard scored a career-high 23 points, Joey Hauser had 12 points and 15 rebounds and Michigan State beat Penn State 67-58 on Wednesday night to snap a two-game losing streak.

Michigan State (6-4, 1-1 Big Ten) avoided going .500 or worse after 10 games for the first time in 18 seasons.

Hoggard blocked an open layup with less than a minute to play and Hauser grabbed the rebound before being fouled and making two free throws at the other end for a 66-58 lead.

Hoggard, Hauser and Tyson Walker combined for 31 of Michigan State’s 32 second-half points.

The Michigan State defense allowed only one made field goal in the final five minutes. Penn State was just 1 of 9 from 3-point range in the second half after 7 of 18 before halftime.

Walker scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half for Michigan State. Hoggard, who entered third in the conference in assists at 6.3, had six rebounds, two assists and one key block.

Hoggard gave Michigan State 35-33 lead – its first since 4-2 – after back-to-back three-point plays with 59.3 seconds left in the first half. It was tied at 35-all at the break.

Seth Lundy scored 16 points and Jalen Pickett had 13 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists for Penn State (6-3, 0-1)

Michigan State hosts Brown on Saturday. Penn State, which hadn’t played since a double-overtime loss to Clemson on Nov. 29, plays at No. 17 Illinois on Saturday.

No. 7 Virginia Tech posts 9th straight win, beats Boston College 73-58

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BOSTON — Reigning Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Elizabeth Kitley had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Cayla King scored 16 on Wednesday night to lead No. 7 Virginia Tech to a 73-58 victory over Boston College, the Hokies’ ninth straight win.

Taylor Soule, one of two BC transfers on the roster for Virginia Tech (9-0, 1-0 ACC), added nine points and five rebounds. Soule scored more than 1,500 points and grabbed almost 700 rebounds in four seasons at BC, earning All-ACC honors three times.

Andrea Daley scored 15 points and Maria Gakdeng scored 14 for BC (7-4, 0-1). They each grabbed six rebounds.

Virginia Tech scored 17 of the game’s first 21 points and led by as many as 19 in the third quarter before BC cut the deficit to 10 in the fourth. Leading 64-54 with under three minutes left and the shot clock expiring, Kayana Traylor hit a 3-pointer for the Hokies.

Gakdeng missed two free throws for BC, and then Kitley scored from inside to make it a 15-point game.

Clara Ford, who also played four years in Chestnut Hill, pitched in 2 points in 2 minutes against her former team.


At No. 7, the Hokies have the highest ranking in the program’s history. With the victory over BC, a 10th straight win against North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday would leave Virginia Tech in position to move up even higher should a top five team falter.


Virginia Tech: Hosts North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday.

Boston College: Hosts Albany on Saturday.

Michigan’s Jaelin Llewellyn out for season with knee injury

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan point guard Jaelin Llewellyn is out for the rest of the season with an injured left knee and is expected to have surgery next month.

Wolverines coach Juwan Howard made the announcement three days after Llewellyn was hurt in a loss to Kentucky in London.

Llewellyn transferred to Michigan from Princeton last spring and that seemed to lead to Frankie Collins transferring to Arizona State after a solid freshman season for the Wolverines.

Llewellyn averaged seven points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in eight games at Michigan. He was an All-Ivy League player last season and averaged nearly 16 points over three seasons at Princeton.