It’s never too early to start looking ahead!
Check below for our list of 20 breakout players for the 2022-23 college basketball season. Please note that someone cannot be considered a “breakout player” if he was a double-figure scorer the previous year.
In no particular order:
Jordan Hawkins, UConn: Dan Hurley has big plans for this 6-5 sophomore, who averaged 5.8 points last season as a freshman. Don’t be shocked if Hawkins’ scoring average is 10 points better as a sophomore — he’s that good.
Brandon Newman, Purdue: The 6-5 Newman only reached double figures five times last season as a sophomore after hitting double figures 12 times two years ago as a freshman. Nevertheless, his usage rate should increase exponentially this season following the departure of Jaden Ivey. Newman still has the chops to be a capable player in the Big Ten.
Jaylen Clark, UCLA: Clark averaged 11.4 points and 5.6 rebounds last season in the nine games last season where he logged 20 minutes or more. With Johnny Juzang and Jules Bernard no longer in UCLA’s program, the door is open for the 6-5 Clark to cement himself as a productive starter in Westwood.
Kris Murray, Iowa: The brother of Keegan Murray, Kris Murray is in prime position to be the next elite player in the Hawkeyes’ program. The 6-8 forward averaged 9.7 points and 4.3 rebounds last season, with averages of 15.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in games where he logged 20 minutes or more. Buy stock now.
Trey Alexander, Creighton: The Bluejays may have the most complete starting five in the sport this season and Alexander is a major component. The 6-4 guard can play multiple positions and truly shined during last year’s NCAA Tournament, where he averaged 16 points, seven assists, and 3.5 rebounds in two games. Alexander will be an All-Big East caliber player in 2022-23.
Jacob Toppin, Kentucky: There’s no ceiling this season for the 6-9 Toppin, who seems ready to explode next to Oscar Tshiebwe. An ancillary piece to the puzzle a year ago, Toppin averaged just 6.2 points and 3.2 rebounds — those numbers could very well double in 2022-23.
Jaden Akins, Michigan State: Well embedded moles in East Lansing are bullish on Akins’ potential despite a recent preseason injury. The 6-4 wing only averaged 3.4 points and 2.4 rebounds last season as a freshman, but is in line to replace Max Christie in the Spartans’ starting lineup.
Kobe Bufkin, Michigan: Hunter Dickinson is the only double figure scorer that returns from last season for Michigan, who desperately needs to identify a scoring presence on the perimeter. Bufkin could be that guy. The 6-4 lefty was a potent offensive player prior to college and the Wolverines need him to again showcase that form. Bufkin only averaged three points a year ago as a freshman, but will have an opportunity to take a major step as a sophomore.
Coleman Hawkins, Illinois: Kofi Cockburn is no longer in Champaign and that means that Hawkins’ production is ready to spike. The 6-10 big man averaged 5.9 points and 4.3 rebounds last season as a sophomore; doubling those averages as a junior is well within Hawkins’ reach.
Pelle Larsson, Arizona: Tommy Lloyd has always thought highly of the 6-5 Larsson. With Bennedict Mathurin and Dalen Terry no longer in Arizona’s program, Larsson’s role should drastically increase this season after averaging 8.3 points in three NCAA Tournament games last spring.
KJ Simpson, Colorado: The 6-2 Simpson played quality basketball down the stretch last season for Colorado, averaging 9.6 points in the Buffaloes’ final nine games. He’ll be the focal point for this program moving forward in the Pac-12.
Jeremy Roach, Duke: Roach is the only player in the Blue Devils’ program who was a part of last season’s run to the Final Four. That makes him an invaluable piece to pair with the nation’s top recruiting class. The 6-1 guard averaged 11.8 points in five NCAA Tournament games last spring and should be an All-ACC caliber player in 2022-23.
Puff Johnson, North Carolina: America caught a glimpse of what Johnson was capable of in last season’s national title game, as he tallied 11 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes against Kansas. The 6-8 forward oozes potential and should allow Hubert Davis to expand his bench. Johnson has the talent to be a key third piece in North Carolina’s frontcourt alongside both Armando Bacot and Northwestern transfer Pete Nance.
Reece Beekman, Virginia: Beekman made a solid leap in production (8.2 points, 5.2 assists, 3.9 rebounds) as a sophomore, but this is the year where he should take his place as one of the top guards in the ACC. If Beekman emerges, the Cavaliers should push for a strong seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament after last year’s appearance in the Postseason NIT.
Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee: Kennedy Chandler got the majority of attention last season for Tennessee, but Zeigler quietly had a terrific freshman season. With Chandler now in the NBA, Zeigler is ready to flourish. The 5-9 point guard averaged nine points and 3.5 assists last spring in two NCAA Tournament games. He’s on his way to becoming one of the best floor generals in the SEC as a sophomore.
Nolan Hickman, Gonzaga: Andrew Nembhard’s departure at point guard leaves a major hole in Gonzaga’s backcourt. Hickman is ready to take advantage. The 6-2 floor general should have a major hand in the Bulldogs’ operation next season as he looks to lead one of the most potent offenses in the sport.
Tamar Bates, Indiana: A natural scorer, Bates showed flashes of his ability to put the ball in the basket last season, but never was able to be consistent. With Indiana in position to be the best team in the Big Ten in 2022-23, this 6-5 lefty could have a major role in Bloomington.
Jalen Warley, Florida State: Players always make their biggest jump when they become sophomores. That’s a good thing for Warley and a bad thing for the rest of the ACC. The 6-6 point guard — a former Top-30 recruit — is primed to make major strides for Florida State in his second year of college basketball. Warley averaged just 3.7 points and 2.5 assists as a freshman.
Chucky Hepburn, Wisconsin: Hepburn’s steadiness last season at point guard was a major reason why Wisconsin was able to win a share of the Big Ten regular season title and earn a three seed in the NCAA Tournament. With Johnny Davis no longer in the Badgers’ program, expect Hepburn to be more assertive on offense as he aims to keep Wisconsin among the elite teams in the Big Ten.
Eddie Lampkin, TCU: How capable is Lampkin? Ask Arizona. The 6-11 center had 20 points and 14 rebounds against the Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament and truly displayed all of his potential. Can he perform like that on a consistent basis? Probably not, but flirting with averaging a double-double is well within reach for Lampkin, who averaged 6.8 points and 6.2 rebounds last season as a sophomore.
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- The Breakfast Buffet: T.J. Otzelberger, Jeremy Roach, UConn looks the part
- The Breakfast Buffet: Duke and UNC step up a weight class in PK85, Kansas/Tennessee, Villanova
- The Breakfast Buffet: UConn/Oregon, Oumar Ballo, Brandon Miller
- The Breakfast Buffet: Bill Self returns, Arkansas, Courtney Ramey