Big Ten 2010-11 Preview: Breakout Players

Dylan Burkhardt


Most of the talk about next year’s Big Ten season will focus on the top flight talent that returns and rightfully so. The superstar quotient in the league is high as Kalin Lucas, Robbie Hummel, Demetri McCamey, E’Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson, and Talor Battle have all been named first team Big Ten players at least once in their careers. This post doesn’t focus on those guys because we know what they are capable of. Instead, this is a list of players who have the potential to breakout and go from supporting player to bona fide superstar.

Before I pored across the statistics I tried to come up with some signs that could point out players with the potential to breakout:

  • High offensive rating, low usage: These players were efficient but didn’t get enough shots meaning that if they become a bigger part of the offense, their stats should increase dramatically.
  • High usage departing player ahead: These players were essentially blocked by a superstar that was the focal point of the offense.
  • In-season improvement: Ending the season on a high note isn’t fail proof but sometimes when the light goes on, it stays on.
  • Showing signs: This one is a little more subjective and applies to the young players that just haven’t had a chance to shine.

William Buford – Jr. – Ohio State Can a player that averaged 14 points and 6 rebounds per game really breakout? In Buford’s case I’ll say yes. Buford was a tenth of a percentage point away from Pomeroy’s “major contributors” category (using >24% of team poss.) and had he fallen in that category his offensive rating would have put him fourth – a smidge ahead of all-World teammate Evan Turner and behind only Jon Leuer, John Shurna, and Kalin Lucas. I expect to see Buford on the All-Big Ten first team when all is said and done.

Durrell Summers – Sr. – Michigan St. (Stats) – If you are anything like me you probably have had summer nightmares of Summers’ ridiculous NCAA tournament statline: 18.8 points, 5.6 rebounds with a 67.4 eFG%. We always knew that Summers had the talent but he had never put together a stretch quite like that. He probably got more looks without Kalin Lucas but there should be plenty of shots in the MSU offense with Raymar Morgan and Chris Allen’s departures. If Summers can find consistency this year, forget the Big Ten, the whole country better take note.

Jordan Taylor – So. – Wisconsin (Stats) – Jordan Taylor probably isn’t a household name across the Big Ten because he’s just a cog in the wheel at Wisconsin. That being said, Taylor managed to rank 6th in offensive rating and 8th in assist rate. Here are Taylor’s sophomore numbers compared to Trevon Hughes’ sophomore numbers:

PPG ORtg %Poss eFG% ARate TORate 3Pt%
Hughes (So.) 11.2 101.0 23.2 46.4 17.3 19.0 31.4
Taylor (So.) 10.0 110.1 22.3 45.7 25.8 11.8 32.7

I’m not suggesting he will become Trevon Hughes but he certainly looks ready to anchor Bo Ryan’s backcourt. He’s also lucky enough to have able big men in Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil.

Devoe Joseph – So. – Minnesota (Stats) – Joseph’s first two years in the Twin Cities have been up and down but he might finally be starting to figure things out. The Canadian guard averaged 13 points and 4 assists over his last 13 Big Ten games with a 53% eFG% as he led Minnesota to the Big Ten Tournament finals and a surprise NCAA bid.

The other good news for Joseph is that he has the opportunity to be the leader of this year’s Gopher team with Lawrence Westbrook, Damian Johnson, Justin Cobbs, and Paul Carter all out of the equation. Obviously that productivity might be a hit in the W column for the Gophers but Joseph still has weapons in Ralph Sampson, Blake Hoffarber, Rodney Williams, Colton Iverson, and Trevon Mbakwe.

Maurice Creek – So. – Indiana (Stats) – I honestly wasn’t sure whether to put Creek on this list. He put up ridiculous numbers in 12 games for the Hoosiers before suffering a nasty knee injury. Naturally those games included plenty of cupcakes but we are talking about a kid that scored 31 points on 14 shots versus Kentucky. If Creek is fully healthy for the entire season he will be the key to improvement in Bloomington.

Others under consideration: Zack Novak (MI), Derek Elston (IN), Rodney Williams (MN), Luka Mirkovic (NW), Kelsey Barlow (PU). (Note: I didn’t include Northwestern’s Drew Crawford in the list because he was named freshmen of the year.)

  • Mat

    Good read. Like I how you lay out the methodology and use both stats and subjective opinion.

  • Nice feature. Summers is a beast, and I could see him leading MSU to a national championship. Novak might be a reach here, but I hope you are right.

  • dwb

    We *need* Novak to pop, so fingers crossed on that point. And Buford will be abominable to be sure! Nice piece.

  • michigan hoops 4eva

    Another guy I would add is Drew Crawford of Northwestern, the dude killed Michigan and was only a freshman last year.

  • Yeah Drew Crawford is a good call. I love his game but he was freshmen player of the year so I don’t know how much of a breakout that’d be.

  • Polisci

    Novak would be the most likely candidate from UM. But I seem him averaging something like 11 pts a game and 5 boards. That’s probably not enough to match the rest of these guys.

    If we were to include freshmen, I’d say THjr would be my pick from UM. I’m seeing him leading the team with 14 pts a game and 6 boards this year.

  • A post on impact freshmen will be coming soon!

  • winnerscircle

    While I like Novak but my break out player will be Matt Vogrich because in the little bit of time he had on the court he contributed . Sure he had a little promblem on defense , but rebounded and is a threatto crash board for putbacks and knock down 3’s .

    Now Darrius Morris will also have a breakout year . I can almost assure you that we will shock some people . Our main problem was chemistry and assertiveness of players other that Manny , Peedi , Stu or Novak .

    We actually are a lot longer and bigger imo. Way more versiltle also . We had a 6 ft 6 center and a 6 ft 4 power forward . We have nice size across the board now .

    So while some call this season a wrap . I say they will surprise .don’t jump on the band wagon when they do . Everyone looked at the season that we went to NCAA’s andwas counting losses for us already . That’s a shame .

    We beat DUKE and won some games . We almost beat Okaholma ..We was one big man away . We also played UCOn very well too .

    I don’t care about star power but we got some players too .I can see us a Wisconsin type of team .

    So what what if we got 3 stars and all they are EXPERIENCE two and 3 stars who has showed us that they can compete . Matt Vogrich will be our sniper .

    Evan Smot will cause a lot of problems in the big 10 . Tim Hardawy J.R too and don’t be surprise if ESO and Jordan Dumars do some things . Jordan Dumars can really shoot .

    Anyway I’m alway optimistic … if so called fan just cometo the games and support the team like Indiana and Wisconsin ,no matter what we will get the players .

    What’s more worst than a recruit on a visit to a bball game with a empty gym or a bunch of boring unetused fans … shomore team spirit and players will come .

    Indiana and Illinois get recruits no matter how they are cause they have good fans … wisconsin too …

  • FLWolve

    I remember back in JB’s first recruiting season with UM, DeVoe was practically begging to come to UM but JB took a much lower rated Stu instead. That one doesn’t look so good nowadays.

  • Michigan is what, 4-0 against Devoe Joseph?

  • Brian W

    Michigan mentioned as one of the schools in attendance at St. Mark’s School on Sunday…

  • fresh

    nobody knows what to expect out of the front court players this year but i also expect morris and vogrich to be large contributors in many aspects of the game this year, i really think vogrich is going to surprise a lot of people………if black or morgan can be efficient and smotz and christian can bring something more than novak at the 4 then michigan could definitely surprise a good many teams ……..cant wait to see it

  • fresh

    thats blake not black

  • AG2

    People refer to the lack of chemistry associated with Sims and Harris last year. I’m wondering if anyone has any information on exactly what was wrong. Personally it seemed to me that Manny’s loyalty to Peedi was the only thing keeping him here. Correct me if I’m wrong.

  • wayman britt

    Thanks for the preview.

    Boy, the Big Ten is going to be stacked, at least on paper. I guess we will have to wait and see how things turn out, but it looks like a deep conference.

  • Kenny

    I am also cautiously optimistic about the coming season. the team will get much better towards the end of the season. Although I see Novak provide leadership of this young team, I don’t expect his number improves a lot. The key group of players who need to step up are Morris, Vogrich, McLimans and Morgan, and possibly from Eso.

  • ZRL

    To me breakout player means “has the potential to be an all-conference type if things fall right”. While I expect Novak to be improved, I don’t think he has that kind of potential. I’d add Morris to the list instead.

  • That Guy

    Delvon Roe would be another to consider. Kids just getting healthy. If not Roe then Draymond Green.

  • Sam

    I think if we have one that could turn into an All-Big 10 type it will be Stu Douglass. I still think he is going to lead this team in scoring and I think he will be a little more consistent in shooting.

  • Interesting discussing with the Michigan guys… I kind of just threw Novak in there as an after thought because someone is going to get a lot of shots in this offense. Hardaway will obviously be one of those guys but Vogrich is an interesting scenario.

    Stu is always going to be mostly a shooter. Novak is always going to be an all around kind of guy. Vogrich is the type that has shown us the shooting, also that he is an able cutter (even if they are just small doses). If he can put it together I could see him fitting on this list more than the other two.

    For this list I included Novak because he had the highest offensive rating on the team whereas Darius and Stu’s numbers were both pretty rough last year.

  • Sheryl
  • BlueRev

    Smotx, THJ, McLimans, Vogrich–all comtribute a lot so that we have no real break-out individual… but hopefully a break-out team that surprises a lot of people and finishes near mid-division. Douglass, Novak, Morris all improve too–but with so many new young but talented additions I don’t see any single UM player having break-out season–just a bunch of guys that can score in double figures on a given night and do some dirty work (ie.Novak), tho it’s always nice to have a go-to guy.