John Beilein is a freakin’ wizard, and Zak Irvin might be the newest breakout player at Michigan who will cast a spell over Big Ten opponents this season.

College Basketball Preview: Potential Breakout Sophomores

With one and dones becoming such a prevalent part of major college basketball these days, we often forget there are a lot of elite recruits, and sometimes not so elite recruits, that blossom as sophomores to become one of the best players on their respective teams. This season should be no different, as there are a handful of players from last year’s highly touted recruiting class who stayed for at least another year of college, and some lesser known guys who had good freshmen seasons and are looking to take the next step this season. I left off most of the obvious names, opting instead for a few under the radar or less evident picks.


Nigel Williams-Goss, Guard, Washington (2013 RSCI rank: 37)

Williams-Goss is one of my favorite players in college basketball, and would be a lot more known but for his playing on the West Coast. He led all Pac-12 freshmen in scoring last season, and while he turned the ball over quite a bit, he was an accomplished passer. Though he was a point guard, he was one of the best defensive rebounders on the team.

Williams-Goss isn’t incredibly explosive, but he’s already got a nice runner and uses his size to be able to get off good looks virtually whenever he needs to. He needs some work on the defensive end, but he’s already a heady player, and cleaning up some of those freshman mistakes should vault him to an all-conference selection.

Kasey Hill, Guard, Florida (2013 RSCI rank: 8)

Hill was a heralded recruit in last year’s class, but did not get much playing time behind the more experienced members of Florida’s backcourt. Like Williams-Goss, Hill struggled with turnovers at times but was impressive passing the ball. He’s fairly small, but has a good wingspan and is explosive enough to get by guys and score through traffic.

Defensively, Hill had a nearly top-100 steal percentage, and has the footspeed to stay in front of most point guards. Florida has become known for its defense the last couple years, and Hill should help contribute to that this season.

Marcus Foster, Guard, Kansas State (2013 RSCI: 219)

Foster exploded on the scene for Kansas State last season, leading the Wildcats in scoring. He shot 39.5 percent beyond the arc last year, and although he wasn’t good at scoring inside, he shot well from mid range.

Foster was a decent passer as well, though he didn’t contribute much on the glass. Reports are mixed about him defensively, but there is definitely the potential for opposing guards to take advantage of him due to his size. I’m a bit more bearish on Foster than other writers due to the fact that he relies so much on scoring via long jumpers, but there’s no doubt he’s potentially an all-Big 12 caliber player.


Wayne Selden wants to be a go-to guy as Kansas goes for its 11th straight Big 12 title.

Wayne Selden, Guard, Kansas (2013 RSCI: 13)

Selden reportedly struggled with some knee issues, which would explain his pedestrian numbers. He shot under 33 percent from deep, and although he shot nearly 70 percent at the rim, he took fewer than a fourth of his shots there. He struggled defensively, both on and off the ball, and while his assist rate was fairly high for a shooting guard, he’s got some room to grow in the playmaking area as well. If his knee issues were at the heart of a lot of his problems as a freshman, he should be one of the more intriguing guards in the league, but if not, he could be in for another year of struggles in Lawrence.


Jordan Woodard, Guard, Oklahoma (2013 RSCI: 162)

Staying in the Big 12, Woodard is intriguing for basically one reason: his ability to get to the line. His free throw rate was 27th in the country as he drew 6 fouls per 40 minutes. He shot 78 percent from the line and 37 percent from three, but just 35 percent from two-point range. He’ll need to improve scoring inside the arc, but his ability to get to the line and his passing ability make him an intriguing point guard prospect.

Zak Irvin, Forward, Michigan (2013 RSCI: 29)

Irvin didn’t get a lot of playing time last season, playing just 38 percent of Michigan’s minutes, but he was very good in those minutes. Shooting 42.5 percent outside the arc was a big reason why Irvin posted nearly a 60 percent effective field goal rate. Irvin needs to improve his rebounding, as both his offensive and defensive rebounding percentages were under 10 percent, but he plays for one of the best offensive minds in college basketball (John Beilein), leaving me with no doubt that his skills will be maximized.