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The "next 10" candidates for a big sophomore step, presented alphabetically:
Zach Auguste, Notre Dame—The 6'10" Auguste is a better rebounder and shot-blocker than senior Garrick Sherman. ND's other senior big man, Tom Knight, is a bruiser who may see bench time if ACC referees are more whistle-happy than those in the Big East. Auguste is a tremendous athlete who may steal a starting spot from one veteran or the other.
Michael Carrera, S. Carolina—At 6'5" and 212 pounds, Carrera finished first in the SEC in defensive rebounding percentage (DR%) and second on the offensive end (OR%). He's a junkyard dog in a purse pooch's body. He may garner All-SEC votes whether the Gamecocks are relevant or not.
Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky—Speaking of tremendous athletes, Cauley-Stein can join former UK post partner Nerlens Noel as an NBA lottery pick. That is, if he can improve hideous free-throw shooting and beat out freshman beast Dakari Johnson.
Shaq Goodwin, Memphis—And speaking of beating out hyped freshmen, Goodwin has to fend off local product Austin Nichols for post minutes in a lineup that will frequently run with four guards. To that end, Goodwin has reportedly dropped close to 40 pounds, seeking the kind of fitness that will allow him to play 25-30 minutes a night.
A.J. Hammons, Purdue—With a line of 10.6 points, six rebounds and two blocks per game last season, Hammons proved he could do everything a team wants its big man to do. Now, Boilermaker coach Matt Painter has to get the 7-footer to do it every night (4.0 RPG over Purdue's final 10 games).
Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga—Opponents will need a Caterpillar bulldozer to keep the "Polish Hammer" out of the lane, where he made 78 percent of his shots last season, per Hoop-Math.com. For his part, Karnowski will need to show improved conditioning and foul shooting (44 percent last season) to play full-time minutes.
Jake Layman, Maryland—Even at a 48.9 effective field goal percentage (eFG%) last season, Layman is the most efficient backcourt option that Maryland has coming back. The 6'8" swingman came within one board of a double-double in the Terps' ACC tournament win over Duke, then dropped 13 on Alabama in the NIT.
Cameron Ridley, Texas—On a team with one junior and no seniors, there are multiple breakout candidates. After all, someone will have to, right? The 6'9", 275-pound Ridley is a decent candidate after recording Big 12 top-20 OR% and DR% figures and the league's third-best block percentage. Now, about the 33 percent from the line...
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown—Otto Porter's in the NBA and Greg Whittington is injured (again). The Hoyas need scoring. DSR proved he could do just that by dropping 33 on DePaul. That game started a seven-game stretch of 51-percent shooting from deep. Pay no mind to the combined 0-10 in GU's Big East and NCAA tournament losses.
Mike Tobey, Virginia—The 6'11" Tobey played 15 minutes or more 11 times from the start of ACC play to the season's end. In those games, he averaged 10.4 points and 4.6 rebounds, well above his season averages (6.8/2.9). Plus, he spent his summer playing for the USA at the U19 World Championships. He's being sharpened for bigger action this season.