Predicting Which CBB Players Will Drastically Increase Production in 2015-16
- They must have averaged a minimum of 5.0 points per game last season. There was not a firm maximum scoring average, but anyone who averaged more than 9.0 points per game in 2014-15 needs to be in one heck of a position to dominate in order to double that scoring average.
- They must play on a team that has a reasonable expectation of making the NCAA tournament and competes in one of these nine conferences: ACC, A-10, American, Big 12, Big Ten, Big East, Mountain West, Pac-12 and SEC. While players like Charleston Southern's Aaron Wheeler may well double their scoring average, it's hard to be labeled a breakout star if hardly anyone is watching.
- They must have a reasonable expectation of significantly increased playing time and/or a much more important role in the offense due to the departure of players. For instance, North Carolina's Isaiah Hicks deserves better than 14.8 minutes and 6.6 points per game, but we can't forecast him to average 13.2 points per game with Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks still in his way.
For the college basketball players who actually stay in school for more than one season, exponential growth is the goal. With that in mind, we went searching for the 20 players who are most likely to at least double their 2014-15 scoring average next season.
There were three primary criteria for inclusion on this list of potential breakout players:
The following 20 players were ranked not in ascending order of projected scoring average, but in ascending order of likelihood of increasing their scoring average by at least 100 percent.
Most of these players were afterthoughts a season ago, but we fully expect to see at least a few of them contending for Wooden Award votes.
20. Ricky Doyle, Michigan
2014-15 Stats: 18.2 MPG, 6.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG
Departed teammates: Max Bielfeldt (5.1 PPG)
We're going out on a limb right away, but Ricky Doyle has the talent to score in double figures on a nightly basis.
He just needs to stay healthy.
Doyle missed most of his junior year in high school with a stress fracture in his leg. Prior to the start of his freshman year at Michigan, he had to surrender the starting center job to Mark Donnal because he simply had too many nagging injuries throughout the course of the preseason to get the necessary minutes.
It didn't take long, though, before his talent shone through. Doyle scored in double figures in three of his first four games with legitimate minutes and took the starting job from Donnal one month into the season.
But then in late February, he suffered an ankle injury against Ohio State and kind of sputtered to the finish line.
Doyle scored at least a dozen points seven times, but they were scattered throughout the season thanks in large part to inconsistent playing time. Max Bielfeldt's departure should help with that. Now that Donnal is Doyle's only real challenger for playing time, look for Doyle (if healthy) to play close to 30 minutes per game, ripping down a ton of rebounds for what is otherwise a perimeter-oriented Wolverines squad.
If Doyle is ready to average a double-double, Michigan is going to be scary good this year.
19. Abdel Nader, Iowa State
2014-15 Stats: 16.4 MPG, 5.8 PPG, 2.9 RPG
Departed teammates: Bryce Dejean-Jones (10.5 PPG), Dustin Hogue (9.3 PPG), Daniel Edozie (3.2 PPG)
The Cyclones didn't lose a ton. It's largely why they are near the top of all the projected top-25 rankings. What they did lose, though, bodes well for Abdel Nader.
Bryce Dejean-Jones and Dustin Hogue both stand 6'6", which made it difficult for 6'6" Nader to find much playing time—particularly once Jameel McKay became eligible and reduced the pool of available minutes that much more. But with both of those players and 6'8" Daniel Edozie now out of the picture, Nader should get the first crack at a starting job.
He'll need to play better than he did last season to keep it, though. He shot just 40.6 percent from the field and 21.7 percent from three-point range, and he took way too many shots for someone that offensively inefficient.
More than the points, though, he'll need to become a contributor in the rebounding and shot-blocking departments. If he isn't offering much value there, new coach Steve Prohm will simply go with a three-guard lineup of Monte Morris, Hallice Cooke and Naz Long, giving up a little bit of size in exchange for significantly more damage along the perimeter.
But that's only if Nader doesn't improve his efficiency. If he does, his playing time should double, and he will become a key cog of an offense run by arguably the most efficient point guard in the nation. Nader won't surpass Georges Niang on Iowa State's pecking order, but he could be in position for a huge year as the primary small forward for a title contender.
18. Goodluck Okonoboh, UNLV
2014-15 Stats: 26.7 MPG, 5.7 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.9 BPG
Departed teammates: Rashad Vaughn (17.8 PPG), Christian Wood (15.7 PPG), Jelan Kendrick (7.1 PPG), Cody Doolin (6.4 PPG)
The Rebels lost four of last year's five leading scorers, so there are certainly openings in the point-producing department.
Is Goodluck Okonoboh willing and able to fill one of those spots?
He got plenty of playing time last season as a freshman, but his primary job was to block the shots and grab the rebounds that Christian Wood didn't handle. His secondary job was to stay out of the way on offense, as he was responsible for just 12.5 percent of UNLV's field-goal attempts while he was on the court, per kenpom.com.
With Wood (25.7 percent) and Rashad Vaughn (32.7 percent) no longer running the show, though, he should become more of a focal point of the offense—similar to the increased roles that Amida Brimah and Rakeem Christmas had last season for Connecticut and Syracuse, respectively.
However, Okonoboh ranks low in our top 20 because there's a lot of competition still standing in his way. Stephen Zimmerman, a 5-star center, per 247Sports, will immediately command a lot of playing time in the frontcourt, as should sophomore Dwayne Morgan and Oregon transfer Ben Carter.
It's unlikely that Okonoboh's playing time decreases, but it's equally unlikely that he plays 32 minutes per night. We're expecting a similar workload because of his defensive prowess and upwards of 12 points per game due to the team's need to get some points from somewhere.
17. Jalen Reynolds, Xavier
2014-15 Stats: 20.3 MPG, 9.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG
Departed teammates: Matt Stainbrook (12.3 PPG), Dee Davis (9.0 PPG)
By and large, we expunged players who averaged at least 9.0 points per game last season from consideration. There were only 50 players in the country who scored at least 18.0 points per game in 2014-15, nearly all of whom had already previously averaged a ton of points per game.
But we made a couple of exceptions, one of which was Jalen Reynolds.
He would need to average 19.8 points per game to double his scoring average from last season. Only 19 players reached that plateau in 2014-15, but if you've watched Reynolds play, you know darn well he's capable of averaging 20 points and 12 rebounds per game.
Keep in mind, those 9.9 points came in just 20.3 minutes per game while he frequently shared the court with Xavier's leading scorer, Matt Stainbrook. With the Stain Train graduating, Reynolds becomes the team's best interior weapon by a country mile.
The big question: Can he stay out of foul trouble?
Despite playing less than half of all possible minutes for Xavier, he committed at least four fouls in 16 games, fouling out of four of those games. He committed 6.1 fouls per 40 minutes. That's down from the rate of 7.6 that he posted as a freshman, but it needs to drop significantly in order for him to reach his full potential.
If he is able to stay on the court for 30 or more minutes per game, he should be a lock for the Big East All-Conference team.
16. Jaysean Paige, West Virginia
2014-15 Stats: 13.3 MPG, 5.6 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.1 SPG
Departed teammates: Juwan Staten (14.2 PPG), Gary Browne (7.0 PPG)
West Virginia had 10 players who logged at least 430 minutes last season. With only two of those 10 players leaving school, it might seem strange to suggest that one of the remaining eight will more than double his scoring production.
However, Jaysean Paige is now the closest thing the Mountaineers have to a reliable three-point shooter.
Three players on the roster shot at least 36.0 percent from beyond the arc last season: Paige, Juwan Staten and Gary Browne. Even though he played sparingly behind Staten and Browne, Paige hit 38.5 percent of his triples.
At Moberly Area Community College in 2013-14, Paige averaged 21.4 points per game and shot 44.6 percent from downtown. Now that he'll have the opportunity to shine at the D-I level, we expect him to do just that.
He'll still need to share minutes with Jevon Carter, Daxter Miles and Tarik Phillip, but Paige should be a major contributor this season. Put it this way: With Staten no longer around to shoulder the load, if Paige doesn't play at least 20 minutes per game and score in double figures, it could be a long season in Morgantown.
15. Kris Jenkins, Villanova
2014-15 Stats: 18.6 MPG, 6.3 PPG, 2.0 RPG
Departed teammates: Darrun Hilliard (14.3 PPG), Dylan Ennis (9.9 PPG), JayVaughn Pinkston (9.7 PPG)
Villanova has four good players who are all but guaranteed to start next season: Jalen Brunson (PG), Ryan Arcidiacono (PG/SG), Josh Hart (SG/SF) and Daniel Ochefu (C).
It's easy to notice that a second frontcourt player is missing from that list.
Maybe 6'7" redshirt freshman Mikal Bridges plays a big role. Perhaps 6'8" Darryl Reynolds makes an impact despite averaging 2.4 minutes per game over Villanova's final 24 games last season. Or maybe 6'9" true freshman Tim Delaney comes in and immediately contends for a big piece of the puzzle.
The smart money, though, is on Kris Jenkins getting the lion's share of the starts at the 4.
He's not a conventional power forward by any means. 6'2" Dylan Ennis had a better rebounding percentage than Jenkins did last season. In fact, he rarely does anything in the paint. He averaged just one two-point attempt for every 20.9 minutes on the court last season.
But he can stroke it from deep. He averaged 7.7 three-point attempts per 40 minutes and made 37.2 percent of them.
Jenkins isn't nearly the assassin that Ethan Wragge was for Creighton a couple years ago, but that's the type of role he figures to play for Villanova. It would be nice if he would use his 6'6", 240-pound frame to do some damage on the glass, but if he can hit 40 percent of his threes and average 12.6 points per game, we somehow doubt Jay Wright would complain about his rebounding rate.
14. James Webb, Boise State
2014-15 Stats: 27.7 MPG, 11.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.1 SPG
Departed teammates: Derrick Marks (19.4 PPG), Igor Hadziomerovic (5.0 PPG), Robert Heyer (4.7 PPG)
This is by far the tallest order on the list. James Webb is our only breakout nominee who averaged at least 10.0 points per game last season. In order to double his scoring, he would need to average at least 22.4 this year.
That's "leading the nation in scoring" territory, and it wouldn't be all that surprising if he did just that.
At 6'9" with reliable three-point range, Webb is one of the most unguardable and unstoppable players in the country. He made 67.7 percent of his two-point attempts and 40.9 percent of his three-point attempts while taking at least 115 of each.
As a point of comparison, Wisconsin's 6'9" Sam Dekker made 63.9 percent of his shots from inside the arc and 33.1 percent of his three-point attempts last season. Dekker isn't anywhere near the insatiable rebounder and shot-blocker that Webb is.
And Dekker just might be a lottery pick in two weeks.
If Webb can put it all together for another season—while playing a few more minutes per game and taking considerably more shots with Derrick Marks out of the picture—he just might play his way into one heck of a payday.
13. Abdul-Malik Abu, North Carolina State
2014-15 Stats: 19.1 MPG, 6.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG
Departed teammates: Trevor Lacey (15.7 PPG), Ralston Turner (12.8 PPG), Kyle Washington (6.8 PPG), Desmond Lee (2.8 PPG)
Earlier this week, we nominated North Carolina State as one of the 10 tournament regulars most in danger of missing the Big Dance in 2016. The primary rationale behind that argument was the number of assertive scorers that the Wolfpack lost.
If they do end up making the tournament, though, it will likely be because Abdul-Malik Abu emerges as an alpha dog and wills the team to a few extra wins.
It wasn't until late in the 2014-15 season that he really started to hit his stride, culminating in a 13-point, 12-rebound double-double in the upset win over Villanova in the round of 32. But if the top recruit in last year's Wolfpack class can pick up right where he left off, he could be headed for a monster season.
Kyle Washington's decision to transfer should help Abu immensely. Those two handled the bulk of the power forward duties while Lennard Freeman and BeeJay Anya platooned at center. Without Washington to get in his way this year, Abu's minutes should skyrocket.
Sprinkle in the need for him to take a larger percentage of the team's shots this season, and you have a nice formula for a 100 percent increase in scoring average.
12. Leron Black, Illinois
2014-15 Stats: 14.8 MPG, 5.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG
Departed teammates: Rayvonte Rice (16.5 PPG), Aaron Cosby (7.8 PPG), Ahmad Starks (7.7 PPG), Nnanna Egwu (6.5 PPG)
Illinois lost four of its six leading scorers from last season. The two who do return (Kendrick Nunn and Malcolm Hill) are shooting guards.
That's good news for power forward Leron Black's potential playing time and point production. He's the only returning Illini taller than 6'6" who averaged at least 9.0 minutes per game in 2014-15.
The bad news for Black is that a couple of transfers are looking to come in and steal his job.
Mike Thorne Jr. is a graduate transfer from Charlotte who averaged 10.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last season. He should immediately figure prominently into the frontcourt rotation.
As could Darius Paul, who averaged 10.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game as a freshman at Western Michigan in 2012-13 before transferring to Illinois. He was suspended from the team before ever playing a game, but he's back after averaging 17.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game playing JUCO ball at Lamar State-Port Arthur.
Their combined presence will slightly hinder what Black is able to accomplish, but he only needs to score another 5.0 points per game to double his average. He may not play 30 minutes per game, but he should open the season as the starting power forward. With his skill, 10 points per game should be no problem if he can hang onto the job for the entire year.
11. Jae'Sean Tate, Ohio State
2014-15 Stats: 22.0 MPG, 8.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG
Departed teammates: D'Angelo Russell (19.3 PPG), Sam Thompson (10.2 PPG), Shannon Scott (8.5 PPG), Amir Williams (6.4 PPG), Anthony Lee (3.4 PPG), Trey McDonald (2.8 PPG)
Jae'Sean Tate is one of the only returning scoring options for Ohio State. Coach Thad Matta also has Marc Loving (9.4 PPG) back for at least one more year. Kam Williams (5.4 PPG) and Keita Bates-Diop (3.8 PPG) should be headed for substantially increased roles.
But that's it. Every other player who scored a single point for the Buckeyes in 2014-15 is no longer on the roster. They do have a deep, strong recruiting class and will add Virginia Tech transfer Trevor Thompson, but let's just say Ohio State doesn't have another D'Angelo Russell on the way.
All signs point to this year being the Jae'Sean Tate Show.
Doubling 8.8 points per game to reach 17.6 is a significant jump, but how else is this team going to score more than 60 points per game?
It wouldn't be the first time a Buckeye made that type of huge leap, either.
Evan Turner went from 8.5 points per game as a freshman in 2007-08 to 17.3 points per game the following year. Deshaun Thomas followed a similar career arc, going from 7.5 points per game as a freshman in 2010-11 to 15.9 as a sophomore. And then LaQuinton Ross went from 8.3 points per game as a sophomore in 2012-13 to 15.2 per night in 2013-14.
At this point, it might be safe to just assume that Matta has the ability to turn guys into offensive juggernauts overnight. And Tate was already showing signs of breaking out over the latter half of last season, scoring at least 13 points six times in a span of 11 games against Big Ten opponents.
10. Tyler Ulis, Kentucky
2014-15 Stats: 23.8 MPG, 5.6 PPG, 3.6 APG, 1.8 RPG, 1.0 SPG
Departed teammates: Aaron Harrison (11.0 PPG), Karl-Anthony Towns (10.3 PPG), Devin Booker (10.0 PPG), Andrew Harrison (9.3 PPG), Willie Cauley-Stein (8.9 PPG), Trey Lyles (8.7 PPG), Dakari Johnson (6.4 PPG)
When seven players from one team declare for the NBA draft, you're kind of forced to assume that team lost a lot of its top producers. However, I didn't fully appreciate just how much Kentucky lost until seeing it all listed out like this.
Of the 2,900 points the Wildcats scored last season, 2,486 (85.7 percent) departed for the NBA.
That's ridiculous, and it should mean that Tyler Ulis is destined to put up much bigger numbers this season.
Yes, John Calipari is reloading with Skal Labissiere, Isaiah Briscoe, Charles Matthews, Mychal Mulder and perhaps Jamal Murray if he ever decides to commit to a school or a recruiting class. But this roster is nowhere near as deep as it was in 2014-15, which means there is plenty of slack for 42.9 percent three-point shooting Ulis to pick up.
If we presume a three-guard lineup the majority of the time, Ulis' minutes per game should increase from 23.8 to 30—perhaps more if he proves to be that much more valuable than Matthews or Mulder.
The drawback to putting Ulis any higher on the list is that he's much more of a true point guard than he is a scoring guard. However, he has proved capable of putting his own points on the board. He'll pretty much need to do even more of that this year if the Wildcats are to score enough points per game to remain a top contender for the national championship.
9. Devin Robinson, Florida
2014-15 Stats: 19.0 MPG, 6.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG
Departed teammates: Michael Frazier II (12.1 PPG), Eli Carter (8.8 PPG), Jon Horford (6.5 PPG), Chris Walker (4.7 PPG), Jacob Kurtz (4.0 PPG)
If I were Billy Donovan, I would have bolted for the NBA, too. While 5-star freshmen are lighting up the box scores for John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski, Florida's top recruits over the past three seasons haven't amounted to much of anything.
Braxton Ogbueze was Donovan's top player in the 2012 class, but he played a grand total of 107 minutes as a freshman before transferring.
In 2013, the Gators landed a pair of 5-star recruits in Chris Walker and Kasey Hill, per 247Sports. Walker spent most of his first season dealing with eligibility issues and never made much of an impact as a sophomore before declaring for the draft. Hill has played relatively well but hasn't garnered anything close to the attention of the other two 5-star point guards from that year's class: Andrew Harrison and Tyler Ennis.
And then this past season, Brandone Francis was ineligible for the entire year, Devin Robinson struggled to find his stroke, and Chris Chiozza was nearly the least efficient player on the roster. About the only way Donovan could have had worse luck with freshmen is if they instead decided to play overseas.
Still, Robinson was a 5-star small forward on 247Sports for a reason, and we think he'll figure this college basketball thing out sooner than later.
With Michael Frazier II going pro and Eli Carter transferring, Robinson could battle with Dorian Finney-Smith for the title of leading scorer for the Gators. As long as he doesn't play his way out of it, Robinson should get at least 28 minutes per night this season, which should be more than enough for him to put up 13 points per game.
8. Adam Woodbury, Iowa
2014-15 Stats: 20.5 MPG, 6.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG
Departed teammates: Aaron White (16.4 PPG), Gabriel Olaseni (8.1 PPG), Josh Oglesby (3.2 PPG)
Adam Woodbury got quite the reputation for poking opponents in the eye last season, but this year he'll need to be one of the primary Hawkeyes poking holes in the opposition's defense.
He was mired in a platoon at center for the past three seasons. He averaged 16.5 minutes per game as a freshman, but Gabriel Olaseni kept that number from ever ballooning to where it probably deserves to be.
With Olaseni and Aaron White both out of the picture now, Woodbury is the big man on campus, both literally and figuratively.
6'9" Dominique Uhl will likely get into the mix in the frontcourt, but he and Jarrod Uthoff are the only other returning players taller than 6'7". And each of those forwards would prefer to do the bulk of his scoring from the perimeter, leaving Woodbury as the only true post presence on the roster.
He hasn't been a particularly efficient scorer in his career, making less than 50 percent of his field-goal attempts. However, the inevitable boost in playing time should almost single-handedly result in a drastic increase in double-doubles.
7. Isaac Copeland, Georgetown
2014-15 Stats: 20.0 MPG, 6.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG
Departed teammates: Joshua Smith (10.8 PPG), Jabril Trawick (9.1 PPG), Aaron Bowen (5.6 PPG), Mikael Hopkins (5.1 PPG)
Georgetown had one of the better recruiting classes in the country a year ago, and now the time has come to reap the harvest.
The Hoyas lost two of their top three scorers as well as four of the top seven, but they could be just as good as last season if sophomores L.J. Peak, Paul White and especially Isaac Copeland begin to tap into their full potential.
Copeland got off to a rocky start last year. He was held scoreless five times in his first 15 games and was averaging less than 4.0 points per game into mid-January. But then he began to blossom, averaging 11.1 points per game over his next 12 games before a bit of a hit-or-miss final month of the season.
He wasn't overly reliant on his three-point stroke, but he did make 38.9 percent of those attempts and was particularly lethal when those shots were falling. He should slide seamlessly into the role previously occupied by Jabril Trawick with more of an emphasis on rebounding and less on perimeter shots.
If all goes well, Copeland could have the type of breakout sophomore year that Otto Porter Jr. had for the Hoyas a few years ago.
6. Matt Jones, Duke
2014-15 Stats: 21.7 MPG, 6.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.0 APG
Departed teammates: Jahlil Okafor (17.3 PPG), Quinn Cook (15.3 PPG), Justise Winslow (12.6 PPG), Tyus Jones (11.8 PPG), *Rasheed Sulaimon (7.5 PPG)
Matt Jones was in a constant state of underutilization last season.
For the first 20 games, he was competing with Rasheed Sulaimon for minutes and frequently losing that battle. After the team dismissed Sulaimon, Jones finally got the chance to play his way into the starting lineup—where he was still a distant fifth-best option for the Blue Devils.
However, options one through four are now gone. And though Grayson Allen may have catapulted himself to the top of the pecking order with his sensational national championship performance, there's still going to be a lot more room for Jones to shine in this offense.
Derryck Thornton, Luke Kennard, Brandon Ingram and Chase Jeter are outstanding additions, but if Jones was good enough to start 14 games on last year's roster, he should have a better-than-puncher's chance of remaining the starting small forward and contributing to the points column in a big way.
For some reason, people want to assume that Jones will be left out of the starting lineup in favor of freshmen like Kennard and Jeter. Those people are conveniently neglecting the fact that Jones was a highly rated recruit in 2013 who made 37.6 percent of his three-point attempts last season.
California and Kansas have stout recruiting classes, but you don't see anyone arguing that Jabari Bird (36.9 percent three-point shooter last year) or Wayne Selden Jr. (36.5 percent) will have difficulty finding playing time, do you?
It's possible that Jones loses his job, but let's go ahead and stop treating it like a foregone conclusion. After all, the last time we did that, Quinn Cook had one heck of a senior year.
5. Bronson Koenig, Wisconsin
2014-15 Stats: 28.8 MPG, 8.7 PPG, 2.5 APG, 1.8 RPG
Departed teammates: Frank Kaminsky (18.8 PPG), Sam Dekker (13.9 PPG), Traevon Jackson (8.1 PPG), Josh Gasser (6.6 PPG), Duje Dukan (4.7 PPG)
Whether it's enough to lead Wisconsin to an 18th consecutive NCAA tournament remains to be seen, but Bronson Koenig is going to be one of the primary contenders for the Big Ten scoring crown.
(Frankly, it was tempting to put Nigel Hayes near the bottom of this list too, but to double last year's 12.4 points per game would require 1.7 more points per game than any player in the country scored in 2014-15. Scoring should increase considerably thanks to the new rules this season, but even that's a big stretch.)
Koenig was Wisconsin's primary ball-handler for the bulk of last season due to the leg injury suffered by Traevon Jackson, but he is a shooting guard through and through. He averaged 2.8 field-goal attempts for every assist he recorded last season. For sake of comparison, Duke's Tyus Jones had a ratio of 1.5.
But last year forced Koenig to learn how to create his own shot, which is terrifying news for the rest of the Big Ten. He didn't do a ton of shooting last year. More often than not, he sat back and let Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker do the damage.
Now it's Koenig's turn to bring the hammer. He and Hayes should both average close to 18 points per game for this depleted roster. At any rate, if they don't put up those types of numbers, the Badgers are going to be hurting for wins.
4. Bonzie Colson and V.J. Beachem, Notre Dame
2014-15 Stats (V.J. Beachem): 14.6 MPG, 5.9 PPG, 1.4 RPG
2014-15 Stats (Bonzie Colson): 12.1 MPG, 5.6 PPG, 2.7 RPG
Departed teammates: Jerian Grant (16.5 PPG), Pat Connaughton (12.5 PPG)
Our only double dip on the list, but how can one possibly pick between these two?
Notre Dame had four players who averaged at least 32.5 minutes per game last season, making it difficult for V.J. Beachem and Bonzie Colson to get on the court. Jerian Grant led the team with 37.1 minutes per game. Pat Connaughton was close behind him at 35.6. More than just the 29.0 points per game they took with them when they graduated, they're leaving behind 72.7 minutes per game to be claimed.
With Demetrius Jackson (34.7 MPG) and Steve Vasturia (32.5 MPG) already logging a ton of playing time, they can't well be expected to pick up that slack. Instead, the bulk of those minutes will go to the first two guys off the bench last season.
Colson made 62.5 percent of his two-point attempts last season, while Beachem connected on 41.6 percent of his 101 three-point attempts. They played sparingly, but they did so efficiently, averaging better than 16 points per 40 minutes. They both also shot a ton while they were on the court, so they won't be afraid to chase the lion's share of the scoring pie abandoned by Grant and Connaughton.
It's going to be nearly impossible for the Fighting Irish to be as efficient on offense as they were this past season, but Beachem and Colson should help keep Notre Dame among the best offenses in the nation.
3. Malik Pope, San Diego State
2014-15 Stats: 14.8 MPG, 5.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG
Departed teammates: Aqeel Quinn (10.7 PPG), J.J. O'Brien (10.3 PPG), Dwayne Polee II (7.8 PPG)
Malik Pope's scoring average from last season isn't even remotely an accurate representation of what he's capable of doing.
Then again, who really knows what to expect from the injury-prone sophomore?
Pope missed the vast majority of his final two years of high school after breaking the same leg twice. As a result, he wasn't fully in game shape at the start of his freshman year at San Diego State. Through 18 Aztecs games, he had scored a grand total of 30 points—seven of which came against non-D-I San Diego Christian.
He started to come out of his shell over the final two months of the season, averaging 7.2 points per game. But his minutes were still fairly limited. Part of that was likely due to lingering concerns about another leg injury, but the bigger reason was J.J. O'Brien logging nearly 33 minutes per game.
With O'Brien and Dwayne Polee II no longer on the roster and Pope further distancing himself from those injuries, he should play at least twice as many minutes while potentially leading San Diego State in scoring.
Boise State's Anthony Drmic and James Webb will likely get the bulk of the votes for preseason Mountain West Conference Player of the Year, but don't be surprised if Pope ends up on the preseason all-conference team.
2. Ben Bentil, Providence
2014-15 Stats: 21.5 MPG, 6.4 PPG, 4.9 RPG
Departed teammates: LaDontae Henton (19.7 PPG), Tyler Harris (9.9 PPG), Carson Desrosiers (6.7 PPG), Paschal Chukwu (2.6 PPG)
Five players averaged at least 3.9 points per game last season for Providence. As you can see above, three of them are gone. As you don't see above, Ben Bentil (6'8") is the only remaining player on the roster taller than 6'7".
Ed Cooley does have a pair of 6'8" 3-star power forwards coming into the program, per 247Sports. However, unless something changes drastically in the next five months, there's no denying that Bentil will be the primary post presence for Providence.
The only question is whether he can become anything close to the player that LaDontae Henton was for the Friars over the past several years.
The latter half of last season would seem to suggest that he'll give it a valiant effort. Bentil scored at least 10 points in seven of Providence's final 14 games, including five double-doubles. Save for an 18-point explosion in a 37-point win over Navy, Bentil was nonexistent for the first few months of the season, but he showed a ton of promise once he broke into the starting rotation.
And that was with Henton, Tyler Harris and Carson Desrosiers still on the roster. Just imagine what he might do now with perhaps the best point guard in the country (Kris Dunn) and without any of those forwards standing in his way.
Frankly, if he doesn't average at least 15 points per game, it would be a surprise and a terrible omen for Providence's season.
1. Jakob Poeltl, Utah
2014-15 Stats: 23.3 MPG, 9.1 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.9 BPG
Departed teammates: Delon Wright (14.5 PPG), Dallin Bachynski (4.1 PPG)
Let's put it this way: If Jakob Poeltl doesn't double his scoring total from last season, then 2016 NBA mock draft people have a lot of explaining to do.
Draft Express has Poeltl as the eighth-best player in next year's draft class. He is the highest-rated player who played a collegiate game in 2014-15. NBA Draft Room has him going ninth but also doesn't have a single international player in the top 25. We're taking that mock with a grain of salt, but it's another source that has Poeltl as a surefire lottery pick.
Nine sophomores were taken in the lottery in the past two seasons: Marcus Smart, Nik Stauskas, T.J. Warren, Otto Porter, Cody Zeller, Alex Len, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Trey Burke and Michael Carter-Williams. Cameron Payne and Bobby Portis are arguably the top two sophomores likely to be taken in this year's lottery.
All 11 of those players scored at least 11.9 points per game. Carter-Williams and Len were the only ones who didn't average at least 16.2 points per game—the former was a point guard, and the latter never really made any sense as a lottery pick. If Poeltl is to remain one of the 14 best options in the 2016 draft, he'll need to prove it by putting up some serious points this year.
Since he's at No. 1 on this list, we obviously believe he's fully capable of a monster season.
Poeltl displayed serious flashes of elite potential. Through his first seven games last season, he was averaging 12.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game. In his final six games, he averaged 13.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. But he was fairly average for the 20 games in between, rarely scoring in double figures while dealing with an ankle injury.
If he can stay healthy this year, he should be Utah's go-to guy. And the last time the Utes had a 7'0" foreign import who stayed for two years, Andrew Bogut averaged 20.4 points and 12.2 rebounds per game as a sophomore.
Go ahead and try to convince us that Poeltl couldn't put up identical numbers in 2015-16.
Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.