Five Pac-12 All-Breakout Picks

Posted by Andrew Murawa on November 11th, 2015

It’s become a common post to write this time of year – projecting which players are going to make the jump from little-known role player to big-time contributor. And it’s probably so commonly written because it is just a darn fun thing to take a guess at. It’s not like predicting which freshmen are going to succeed, which you are basing either on performance in games played at a different level or sometimes sketchy scouting reports. And it’s not like picking All-American teams from the cream of the crop. The only tricky part about the emergent player game is that it’s a little tricky determining who is eligible for such a title. So, for the purposes of this exercise, let’s only looking at returning players who earned less than 50 percent of their team’s minutes last season. That eliminates guys like Ike Iroegbu from Washington State, who should step into a greatly increased role post-Davonte Lacy. Also gone is Rosco Allen from Stanford, who is bound to score more than the 7.3 points per game he averaged last year, if only because somebody on that team HAS to score. Also, in the interest of playing fair, we’re going to eliminate Savon Goodman (47.2% of Arizona State’s minutes) and his 11.2 PPG and 7.6 RPG averages from last season, since he didn’t gain eligibility until the semester break. Still, we’ve got plenty of candidates remaining, so let’s look at five picks to take a big leap in the PAC.

With A Boost Of Confidence, Dominique Collier Could Take A Big Jump As A Soph (Jeremy Papasso, Daily Camera)

With A Boost Of Confidence, Dominique Collier Could Take A Big Jump As A Sophomore (Jeremy Papasso, Daily Camera)

Dominique Collier, Sophomore, Colorado – Collier had a frustrating freshman season. First, he got suspended for the first two games of the season for an offseason incident. Then, he struggled with a lingering ankle injury that bothered him throughout the preseason. When he finally got on the court, he occasionally showed flashes of potential before injuring his wrist and missing a couple more games. When he returned, he pressed and frittered away another month before finally turning it on down the stretch. Some of the numbers are still ugly: 9.8 points per 40 min, a nearly 1:1 assist-turnover ratio and 26.9 percent shooting from long range. But on a team lacking proven perimeter playmakers, Collier is a guy who has showed an ability to get to the rim and convert. There are definitely plenty of areas of his game to be cleaned up, but he’ll have the opportunity to earn a much bigger role this season. With a boosted confidence, he could be the missing piece that vaults the Buffaloes back into postseason contention.

Reid Travis, Sophomore, Stanford – We eliminated Allen, but “thanks” to Travis’ upper-leg stress fracture in the middle of last season, the burly power forward is eligible. Travis averaged 23 up and down minutes in his 28 games played last season. He only averaged 6.2 points and 5.6 boards, but showed enough flashes of upside to be very intriguing. Already known as a rugged rebounder (as his 11.3 OR% and 16.9 DR% will attest to), Travis should be a focal point of the Cardinal offense in the interior, provided Johnny Dawkins can find some way to get him the ball. He’ll need to improve on last season’s woeful shooting, but provided better health, his 61.6 FG% on shots at the rim indicate he can be a serious finisher.

Finally Healthy, Reid Travis Is Ready To Make Some Noise In Maples (Nam Y. Huh, AP)

Finally Healthy, Reid Travis Is Ready To Make Some Noise In Maples (Nam Y. Huh, AP)

Dusan Ristic, Sophomore, Arizona – He’ll have to compete for minutes in the post with seniors Kaleb Tarczewski and Ryan Anderson, but the Serbian sophomore made a big impression in Tucson over the summer, adding strength and quickness while continuing to improve his skill set. He’s already got solid back-to-the-basket moves and a nice mid-range jumper, so if he shows the ability to defend at the high level that Sean Miller demands, he may force himself into more minutes, regardless of the other big men on the roster. He was the owner of the highest offensive rating on the team (among guys who played at least 5 MPG) last season, so he’s already shown that when he gets on the floor, he’ll find a way to score.

Brekkot Chapman and Kyle Kuzma, Sophomores, Utah – I’m going to cheat here and double-dip on the Utes. Both are long, agile and impossibly skinny. The other trait these guys share is the ability to fill it up on the offensive end. Chapman only averaged 15 minutes, but scored 5.7 PPG, knocked in 44% of his threes and showed a knack for scoring in a variety of ways. Kuzma played even less – 8.1 minutes in his 31 games of action – but showed no lack of confidence when he was on the floor. He led the team in percentage of shots taken in his brief court time, so if anything, overconfidence could have been the accusation. And while both players are the types of players that could sub in and out for each other all game long, they could also make a terrific on-court combo with Chapman drawing opponents away from the hoop and Kuzma driving them crazy around the paint (76.2 FG% on shots at the rim).

Kodi Justice, Sophomore, Arizona State – There’s a lot to love about Justice’s game. Peek at the stat sheet and his 45.9% three-point shooting jumps off the page, as does the fact that he handed out an assist on 26.5% of his teammates made field goals when he was on the court last year. But those numbers only tell part of the story. The rest of it gets told visually. Justice not only posts highly efficient numbers, but he also does so in style, dropping on-the-money dimes with a flip behind-the-back, or taking a long glide through the lane on his way to a runner. Sure, he probably has to reign in some of that youthful exuberance, and he’s got some serious work to do on the defensive end. But he’s capable of being among the most entertaining guards in the league.

AMurawa (999 Posts)

Andrew Murawa Likes Basketball.

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *