By the time a player has completed his junior year, he is a finished product. Not many players average 10 points a game their junior years, then suddenly started scoring 20 points a game as a senior.
Suffice it to say the coming season will define the college basketball career of the following players. Some will become stat stuffers, while others will refine their game to fit the needs of their teams. Most will be relegated to lesser roles to make room for super underclassmen.
Recent history has shown that it's the juniors who bring championships to their respective schools.
Connecticut, the reigning champion, was led by junior Kemba Walker. Their previous championship in 2004 was delivered by Emeka Okafor, who graduated in three years.
As a matter of fact Duke was led by two juniors, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler in 2010, when they won the championship. Florida won back-to-back championships led by Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Taurean Green. They won as sophomores and came back as juniors and won big.
What current teams have that critical junior who will take their game to another level?
Dominic Cheek played for legendary coach Bob Hurley out in New Jersey and came to Villanova with a lot of hype. He has not lived up to this but don't discount a student of Bob Hurley.
The 6'6" guard should feature more in Jay Wright's offense for the coming season.
Andre Dawkins is very athletic and can shoot with the best of them. He had a great start his freshman season after skipping his senior year in high school to join a guard-depleted Duke team.
Then tragedy struck when his sister was killed in a car accident that injured his mother as well.
Dawkins was never the same after that. He had a few fleeting moments, but by the time he came around from grieving, Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer have become an unstopable back court duo.Playing time was scarce.
The following year Kyrie Irving and Seth Curry's talent demanded minutes.
Dawkins is just as good as any shooting guard in the NCAA, but he is just a little too complacent. It may be that he enjoys college life and does not treat his time at Duke like a stepping stone to the NBA. More of a benefit at the end of four years.
He averaged 8.1 points per game and shot 42 percent on three-pointers, but this kid is more than a shooter. If JJ Reddick can average well over 20 points per game, so can Andre Dawkins who is physically equiped with better tools and has just as much range.
The big question is does he want to or is he just waiting for his turn like Shane Battier.
A product of the Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) who have produced a bunch of talented Aussies in the past decade.
Patty Mills and Andrew Bogut are prime examples who have come through that route.
A lot of these players have ended up at St Mary who have have made the tournament three years running up to 2010 and finished in the NIT last season. The Gaels are now one of the top mid-majors in the country, challenging Butler and Gonzaga.
Dellavedova is one of the players that contributed greatly to St mary's Sweet 16 run in 2010.
He is a savvy point guard with unlimited range. His true grit carries is the little engine that can for the Gaels.
The 6'4" guard averaged 13.4 points, 5.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals his second season in college.
One day Australia will make some noise in the basketball world because of players like Dellavedova, just like Spain, the current challenger to USA. Don't be surprised when it happens.
Marcus Jordan is extremely brave to follow his father into the basketball world. He is nothing like Michael Jordan, but he is making a name for himself nonetheless.
If the first half of the season truly mattered, the UFC KNights was one of the best teams in the country winning 14 games straight, but lost the next eight games.
Their play through conference games was a let down to the great start and part of that reason was the second son of his airness, Michael Jordan.
The young Jordan averaged a team high 15.2 points per game along with 3.3 assists and 2.8 steals.
UFC was ranked as high as 18 in the top 25 but finished a disappointing fourth from the bottom in the ultra competitive Conference USA.
With an average of 8.6 points and 4.4 rebounds, the last thing a sophomore should be thinking about is the NBA draft unless there are exceptional circumstances.
With those averages above Hollis Thompson declared for the 2011 NBA draft but wisely withdrew his name before it was too late.
Maybe the 6'7" forward could not pass up the chance to audition for NBA general managers, some of them are basketball legends, get some vital feedback about what he needs to do for the coming season to be a better player.
The bad part of this is that a player who does this tells you exactly how he feels about his coaches because ultimately they are the ones who can help the said player become better.
Thompson will be relied upon by the Hoyas more heavily, with the graduation of Chris Wright, Austin Freeman and Julian Vaughn.
Arguably, one of the fastest players in college basketball is Dexter Strickland.
He plays for a loaded Tar Heel team and will need to be patient and listen to his coaches because he brings a lot to the table and will be crucial in the decision of how UNC ends their season.
Even if he is not a starter, he will be required to spell Kendall Marshall as the Roy Williams does not have a traditional backup point guard, not that this is an issue.
Kendall Marshall is a star and the longer he is on the court the better North Carolina fares.
Defensively, Strickland can stay in front of anyone and he was the top thief on UNC last season with 1.2 steals a game.
His other numbers of 7.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists a game are modest compared to others on this list, but UNC was one of the top teams in the NCAA last season and Strickland had a hand in that.
Kansas lost some quality players through the NBA draft and graduation, which means players like Elijah Johnson will be counted upon for big production in his junior year at Kansas.
The twins, Marcus and Markief Morris, were taken in the 2011 draft, and starters Tyrel Reed and Brady Morninstar's eligibility expired. Key role player Mario Little has graduated.
This means that Kansas's backcourt starters will likely be Tyshaun Taylor and Elijah Johnson.
By now we know that Taylor is not much of a scorer so Johnson will be looked upon to provide scoring along with Thomas Robinson.
Ben McElmore is a quality freshman wing that will be useful, but Johnson is a very talented guard who has yet to be fully tested.
This will be his defining season. In 13 minutes of play, he averaged 3.4 points and 1.8 assists this past season. With more playing time, these numbers will be higher.
He also shot a very good 40 percent on his three-point attempts.
Neither Brandon Paul or DJ Richardson has differentiated themselves from each other for Bruce Webber as yet. Swap one for the other, and it won't make any difference in the win-loss column.
Brandon Paul was a quality back up to graduated senior Demetri McCamey at point guard as well as shooting guard.
Tracy Abrams is a 4-star recruit who may start in the place of McCamey with DJ Ricahrdson, or Webber may play all three guards reminding fans of the days of Luther Head, Dee Brown and Deron Williams.
The 6'3" Richardson averaged 8.4 points, 1.8 assists and 1.9 rebounds as the starting shooting guard.
Paul at 6'4" averaged nine points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game, not exactly the overwhelming numbers expected from a former Mr. Basketball if Illinois.
Bruce Webber had two Mr. Basketballs of Illinois on his roster last season for a team that finished 9-9 in the Big Ten. The other player with this distinguishment is Jereme Richmond, who recently went undrafted in the 2011 NBA draft.
With the graduation of Mike Davis, the Fighting Illini will miss freshman Jereme Richardson, which means that a lot more will be required of Paul and Richardson.
If Tom Crean is the man to scrape Indiana's corpse off the floor of the Big Ten, Christian Watford will certainly make things easier.
The 6'8" forward out of Birmingham, Alabama, led the Hoosiers in scoring and rebounding last season with 16 points and 5.4 rebounds as a sophomore.
Indiana finished dead last in the Big Ten with a record of 12-20 (3-15 Big Ten).
Next season is expected to be a turnaround with solid class of recruits coming in, including 6'10" forward Cody Zeller.
One can't help but wonder if Maurice Creek had not suffered a terrible injury, one which he has yet to fully recover from, if Indiana would be not be a little further ahead in recovering from the black hole created by Kelvin Sampson.
Creek, a junior-to-be, would have made a great one-two punch with Watford.
Mouphtaou Yarou hails from the Republic of Benin on the West Coast of Africa. One of 12 siblings, the 6'10" center came to America at 18. He spent one year in high school before enrolling at Villanova.
He averaged 8.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and a block in 24 minutes.
His scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a win over Louisville, his best game of the season. Or that could also be a 13 point, 16 rebound win over UCLA early in the season.
Sadly Villanova did not do so well at the end of the season, losing their last six consecutive games.
Villanova still made the tournament but succumbed in their first game to George Mason.
Playing in the Big East really does matter, as they finished 9-9 but made an expanded tournament.
It is safe to say Villanova's coming season will be tied directly to Yarou's play.
Seth Curry averaged a modest nine points, 1.8 rebounds and two assists a game in his first season at Duke after transferring from Liberty.
Without Kyrie Irving, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler, Duke will need Curry to score the basketball on the same level he did as a freshman averaging 20 points at Liberty.
Like his brother, Stephen (golden State Warriors) and father Del, Curry is a very good three-point shooter and made 43 percent of his attempts this past season.
C J McCollum was the highest scoring sophomore in all of the NCAA last season with 21 points a game backed up with 2.1 assists and 7.8 rebounds.
High scoring guys from smaller conference schools normally take and make high-risk shots. The big issue with this is that when they miss these shots it is detrimental to their teams.
That's not a direct reference to Jimmer Fredette. Guys like him, and Stephen Curry or Eric Maynor to a lesser extent, are one in a million.
At 6'3" McCollum also led his team in rebounding and steals (2.5 a contest), which shows that he pays a lot of attention to other aspects of the game other than scoring.
This differentiated him from a lot of players before him, who have faded into obscurity after being NCAA top scorers.
Lehigh barely won half their games with a record of 16-15 (6-8 Patriot League) which placed them right in the middle of conference standings.
It's hard to measure this player against others on this list who face stiffer competition. Lehigh only played two major conference teams, USC and Penn State.
Penn State blew them out by 14 and McCollum went 3-11 for seven points. Penn's Taylor Battle had 21.
Against USC, McCollum was terrible again going 2-of-8 for another seven points. He was not outstanding in any other statistical category either.
Two games can't define a player though. He made a decent 31 percent of his three-point shots and neither did he rely on free throw shooting to rack up his points.
Going into next season, this guy should provide a very entertaining junior season.
Scott is a tough guard from New York, renowned for hard-nosed players, with an average of 13.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.2 steals.
He is the second leading scorer for Miami, winning 21 games for the season but went 6-10 in the ACC.
Miami does have a bright outlook for the coming season with a new coach, Jim Larranaga, a proven winner at George Mason.
They will have some cool stuff to wear as LeBron James will be sponsoring them.
Scott will continue to form one of the best backcourts in the ACC with Malcolm Grant.
Eamonn Brennan wrote a piece about Brandon Triche enjoying his second year at Chris Paul's camp because he was able to socialize more with his fellow campers and make friends.
Apparently his first year there, he was "shy, more quiet, more in my shell."
You don't want an introvert for a point guard. Point guards should be comfortable interacting with people and giving orders. The offense starts through them, and if they have the respect of their teammates, it will make things smoother.
Not that there is currently an issue with Triche and his teammates. Going into his junior year it would be great if he could become that vital leader Syracuse needs. Especially since there are so many players on that team who are on the same level.
Kemba Walker used to invite his UConn teammates over and cook them dinner. Watching them play with him the respect and trust was obvious, and they were a great team that came together at the right time to become champions of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
Triche averaged 11.1 points, 29 assists and 2.7 rebounds a game in 28 minutes as a sophomore last season. He is a point guard but played more at the off guard to accommodate Scoop Jardine.
With Kris Joseph back and several talented rising sophomores, Syracuse has as good a chance as anyone of losing to either favorites North Carolina or Kentucky somewhere in the tournament.
Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb have been rightfully praised for their part in UConn's rise to the top, but they could not have gotten there without the right support.
Alex Oriakhi and graduated Senior Charles Okwandu were the men behind that great Huskies defense.
Oriakhi averaged merely 9.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks as the starting center.
The 6'9" center may be called upon for more scoring now that Kemba Walker is officially an NBA player.
Jay Wright's formula of starting two quality point guards together is well known; however next season Maalik Wayns will have an opportunity to be the only starting point guard.
Recruit Tyrone Johnson, a 6'3" point guard will get some minutes, but other players like Dominic Cheek deserves that chance to show what they bring to the table.
At 6'2", Wayns averaged almost 14 points a game and 4.5 assists playing in the shadow of Corey Fisher.
Now that Fisher has graduated, the ball will feature more prominently with Wayns. Will he be the next Scottie Reynolds or Kyle Lowry?
One is a high scorer who went undrafted, and the other will start for Houston Rockets next season.
Two legends of Villanova in the Jay Wright era. Lowry will shine for the Rockets next season.
Reynolds is currrently playing in the NBA D-league but has a high chance of making an NBA roster someday.
Point guards are the latest craze in the NBA, so Wayns have a lot to play for.
Most big conference teams like to open their season with a walkover win. Start easy, let the fans get acquainted with the team, allow new teammates to gel under lesser pressure.
After five years at Sienna, new coach Fran McCaffery made his debut for Iowa in November last year with an upsetting loss against Sourth Dakota State.
The main reason? A 6'2" sophomore guard who laid 25 points and dished out nine assists, giving the Hawkeyes their second consecutive loss in a season opener.
That game was a good start for Nate Wolters, who finished the season with averages of 19.5 points and 6.1 assists per game.
Steve Nash had a humble beginning at Santa Clara, and so did Tim Hardaway at Texas El Paso.
The Jackrabbits were young last season and should be mature enough to finish higher than fifth in the Summit League standings.
They will need to replace graduated senior Clint Sargent's 15 points a game, but with Wolters on the roster, they will be exciting to watch.
Reggie Johnson is a 6'10", 300-pound center with averages of 11.9 points a game and 9.6 rebounds for Miami.
Johnson suffered tore his meniscus in a pick-up game with teammates and is expected to be out for five to six months.
Not a good start for new coach Jim Larranaga who will now have to rethink his plans for the season.
Johnson is expected to be back before in time for ACC play.
Not many players turn down big conference schools such as Missouri, Oklahoma or Maryland to play at Rice, but Kazemi was no ordinary recruit.
He is the first Iranian to play in the NCAA and a great representation for his country.
The 6'7" forward averaged 15.2 points and 11 rebounds for the Owls last season.
A player is only as good as his opponents. Against Texas, Kazemi had a solid 13 points and eight rebounds to Tristian thompson's 10 rebounds and 10 rebounds. Texas won by three points.
Against Derrick Williams and Arizona, Kazemi had 17 points and six rebounds to Williams' 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Sadly the latter game was a blowout loss, but Kazemi proves that he can hang with two premier NCAA power forwards in the individual numbers game. Thompson and Williams were lottery picks in the 2011 NBA draft.
Kazemi now needs to show that he is more than just a stat stuffer as a junior. Rice (14-18, 5-11 C-USA) finished the season at third from the bottom of the competitive conference USA standings.
Injuries were the reasons for Elias Harris' luckluster sophomore season after a promising freshman campaign.
He averaged 14.9 points and 7.1 rebounds as a freshman but followed that up with 12 points and six rebounds last season.
He shot 45 percent on threes his first season for Mark Few and 35 percent the second.
Early in the season, it was thought that he had a ruptured Achilles tendon, but that turned out to be false. Other minor injuries slowed him down as well.
The 6'8" German power forward needs to find himself again as he was considered a top draft pick prior to his second year as a Bulldog.
Kris Middleton is the ultimate college player, showing clear progress in his two seasons at Texas A&M. He has a new coach for his junior season.
He doubled his scoring average as a sophomore with 14.2 points a game, accompanied by 2.8 assists and 5.2 rebounds.
Billy Kennedy is now the man in charge as Mark Turgeon attempts the mammoth task of succeeding Gary Williams at Maryland.
Kennedy had an impressive record at Murray State, 107-53 so there is no doubt about his abilities as a coach.
Kris Middleton will make Kennedy's transition to the bigger conference much easier.
Thomas Robinson has the potential to be the best junior in the country by summer next year. Without Marcus and Markief Morris, the burden of Kansas' offense falls squarely on Robinson's shoulders.
As a bench player subbing for the twins Robinson looks very promising, but can he produce under pressure?
The 2011 draft was considered weak when a few freshmen decided to go back to school, certain other players capitalized on this mass abstain by going pro.
Thomas Robinson could have been one of those players who might have sneaked into the first round of the draft based solely on potential.
He chose not to and is back at Kansas with a much larger role to play and may eventually punch his own ticket into a future lottery pick.
After a player has been in college for two years, there a only a few circumstances where they become offensive players from one season to the next.
The main reasons are more playing time, a healed injury or they were not required to score big.
The last of the above three reasons apply to Mason Plumlee.
He averaged five shots a game and made an impressive 59 percent of them, compared to someone like Jared Sullinger (easily the best power forward in college) who made 54 percent of his shots.
This is mainly because the second Plumlee brother mainly scores on passes by the guards from players like Nolan Smith, second in the ACC in assists per game.
Many are looking for Mason to take the initiative and score better in the post, but if he continues to play defense and rebound at a high rate (8.4 rpg) as last season, Duke will be better for it.
There are several other players who are more than capable of carrying the scoring.
John Jenkins is regarded as one of the best shooters in college basketball. He scored 19 points a game, and the majority came from the three-point line. He made 100 for the season.
The 6'4" guard is first team All-SEC.
Back for his junior year, Jenkins form a team made up of three stars who complement each other extremely well.
Jeffery Taylor and Festus Ezeli will be two outstanding seniors looking to avenge a second-round upset to Richmond.
John Henson will be playing on a loaded North Carolina team, but unlike his teammates who could afford to fade, North Carolina will need the 6'10" forward to bring it every night.
He controls the paint with his rebounding (10.1 rpg) and defense. Seventh overall in blocks per game (3.2bpg) in the NCAA.
Henson is considered a late first-round pick at the moment, but if he could have another outstanding season, someone should take a chance on him as a high pick in the 2012 draft.