Notable players like Tyrese Proctor and Donovan Clingan will be on everybody’s breakout lists. But who are some sleeper picks for a star turn in 2023-24?
The nature of college basketball naturally lends itself to new stars emerging every season. Between eligibility limitations, NBA Draft declarations, the transfer portal and coaching changes, there’s a tsunami of changes every offseason. Those waves inevitably thrust players into bigger roles and/or more advantageous positions.
Some breakouts are easy to predict. UConn’s Donovan Clingan was one of the Huskies’ best players during their national title run, and now he steps into the starting role left behind by Adama Sanogo. Tyrese Proctor’s growth throughout last season at Duke has him atop just about every breakout list, too.
But I want to dig a little deeper. I want to highlight some players who aren’t getting that kind of obvious love (yet) but are still positioned to take a major step forward in 2023-24. Here are the five under-the-radar candidates that I’m expecting to break out this season.
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Dylan Andrews, UCLA
Andrews, a former top-50 prospect, was stuck in a clear bench role behind Tyger Campbell as a freshman and played that role well. He was inconsistent, which is expected for any freshman, but he also showed flashes of why he was such a highly-regarded recruit.
“I’m very ready to make that jump,” Andrews told reporters last month. “Just learning from older guys … the vets that came here in the past: Tyger, Jaime, Dave. I feel like they put me in a position to where I’m ready for this and (ready) to take this to the next level.”
The 6-2, 180-pounder is dynamic with the ball in his hands, and he’s the kind of athlete who can get to full speed in a single step. His shiftiness and agility make him difficult to maintain when he gets downhill, and he has an understanding of how to use different speeds to keep defenders off balance. Andrews also showed the ability to take care of the ball as a freshman, posting an assist-to-turnover ratio of nearly 2:1.
His length and quickness also allow him to impact the game defensively, and he should be an upgrade over Campbell in that area.
UCLA is dealing with a lot of roster turnover and will be replacing five of its top six players from last season. Fellow sophomore Adem Bona is expected to be the go-to player inside for the Bruins, and they’re counting on Andrews to step up and be the same kind of player on the perimeter. The ball will be in Andrews’ hands virtually all the time — and he has the ability to turn that into a high level of production.
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