College Basketball: 10 Breakout Players in the Early 2011-12 Season
Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes, Jeremy Lamb...Three players that just about every college basketball fan knows and expects to do great this year.
But, every season there is a collection of players who seemingly "come out of nowhere" to shine on the national scene.
Here are 10 Break-out players who are elevating their games and helping their teams pick up early wins in the action thus far in the 2011-12 season.
Herb Pope: Seton Hall
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Herb Pope is fortunate to be alive, let alone being an early season double-double dude.
The 6'8", 236-pound forward is leading Seton Hall in both scoring (22.5 ppg) and rebounding (11.5 rpg), leading the Pirates to a 3-1 record with nice wins against St. Joseph's and Virginia Commonwealth.
SHU will benefit if the senior post player can keep this production level up. Last year, Pope averaged 9.8 ppg and 7.9 rpg
Doug McDermott: Creighton Blue Jays
Doug McDermott knows a little bit about being overlooked.
McDermott is a sophomore forward at Creighton who played alongside Harrison Barnes (in Ames, Iowa) in high school.
Missouri Valley basketball fans know about him. Most of the rest of the college basketball world knows little about the coach's son who is scoring 21.5 ppg (leads the team) and grabbing 7 rpg this season (No. 2 on the team).
The Blue Jays have jumped out to a 4-0 start to the 2011-12 season with wins over Alabama-Birmingham and Iowa.
McDermott, who plays the game with a very high hoops IQ, is shooting 64.3 percent (36-for-56) from the field, 87.5 percent (7-of-8) from the line and 58.3 percent (7-of-12) from beyond the arc.
Kevin Pangos: Gonzaga Bulldogs
All that Zags freshman guard Kevin Pangos did his second game as a Bulldog is tie Dan Dickau's school record of nine 3's and score 33 points.
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few was impressed, but not surprised.
"That's not a fluke," Few said. "Anytime he shoots it, it's a pretty good thing for us. He's got to realize that's his role for us."
The 6'1" guard from Newmarket, Ontario, Canada leads the team in scoring (18.7 ppg) and assists (3.3 apg), as well as grabbing 3.3 rpg.
Pangos is shooting 50 percent from the field, 88.9 percent from the line and 63.2 percent from downtown.
Jared Cunningham: Oregon State Beavers
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Jared Cunningham is one of the best guards in the Pac-12. Because he plays for Oregon State, most of the college basketball nation doesn't know much about the 6'4" guard.
Cunningham is coming out with guns blazing in 2011-12, scoring 26 ppg, grabbing 5.3 rpg and pinching 2.3 spg.
The Beavers are 4-0, including a nice 100-95 win over Texas at the Ticket City Legends Classic in East Rutherford, N.J.
Royce White: Iowa State
Royce White didn't exactly come out of nowhere, but it's been an interesting ride to where he is today.
White was one of the top-recruited players in the nation two years ago. After a string of misguided decisions, he was released from his scholarship at Minnesota before he ever played a game for the Gophers.
Now, White is an Iowa State Cyclone who is ready to take on the Big 12.
In his ISU debut, White scored 25 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked three shots.
He is doing a little of everything early this season, averaging 21 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 3.3 apg and 2 bpg.
Rumor has it that he is going to be parking cars in the Hilton Coliseum parking lot before the next home game (That's not true ... he's just doing a lot!)
Trae Golden: Tennessee Volunteers
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What a difference a year makes.
New coach and almost a new team—Tennessee lost forward Tobias Harris and guard Scotty Hopson to the NBA draft and four other seniors who saw regular playing time.
But Cuonzo Martin is the new sheriff in town, and he has the Vols playing with heart and passion.
And that starts with Trae Golden, who has totally elevated his game.
As a freshman, Golden was a back up guard who saw spot duty, playing 13 minutes per game, averaging three points and 2.2 assists per game, while shooting 29.3 percent from the field and 18.2 from beyond the arc.
This year, Golden is averaging 20 ppg and 7.3 apg.
No one expects Martin and the Vols to do much this year, but if Golden stays golden, Knoxville will be a fun place to watch this team come together.
John Shurna: Northwestern Wildcats
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Unless you are a Big Ten basketball fanatic, you may not know much about John Shurna.
Shurna enters his final season as a Wildcat needing to score 524 points to overtake Billy McKinney for the Northwestern scoring record.
But, Shurna is more than a scorer.
So far, in four games this season, he is averaging 21.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.3 apg and 2 bpg.
With Shurna at the top of his game, the Wildcats could make the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever.
J'Covan Brown: Texas Longhorns
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J'Covan Brown has a big job in helping the Longhorns get re-established.
He is the Longhorns' top returning scorer, who averaged 9.8 ppg in just 21.5 minutes per game in 2010-11.
This year, Brown is averaging 26.3 ppg, shooting 51 percent from the field and 48 percent from beyond the arc.
Even with Brown dropping in a truck-load of points on a nightly basis, Texas head coach Rick Barnes will have his hands full this season.
Tony Mitchell: Alabama Crimson Tide
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Tony Mitchell was the second part of the 2010-11 Crimson Tide's inside one-two punch.
This year, Mitchell is stepping forward and making a strong case to be Bama's primary scoring option.
In his first five games this season, the 6'6", 220-pound forward is averaging 17.2 ppg and 9.6 rpg.
Mitchell's emergence is one more reason why head coach Anthony Grant may get the Tide into "The Tournament" this year.
Shabazz Napier: UConn Huskies
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Shabazz Napier knew his role on last year's NCAA Championship team: share the ball with Kemba, set up Kemba and give Kemba some relief in the ball handling chores.
Playing this complimentary role, Napier put up respectable numbers as a freshmen: 7.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 3.0 apg and 1.6 spg.
Some thought that he might assume a similar role on this year's team with Jeremy Lamb being the featured scorer.
In UConn's first four games this season, Huskies head coach Jim Calhoun has cut Napier loose and he's bustin' out, averaging 18 ppg, 6 rpg, 6.3 apg and 2 spg.
Napier and Lamb give UConn one of, if not the most, dynamic back courts in the country.
They know what it's like and what it takes to win a championship ... and they want another.