Going From Supporting Cast To Starring Roles

After seeing limited time, or being their teams' third or fourth scoring options last season, there are a bunch of players on the verge of becoming household names in the college basketball world this season. We've identified 10 of them.

They were, at best, "support" players in 2004-05 and most of them weren't even starters a year ago.

Not to worry, though. The 10 players that are highlighted here will one day be full-fledged college stars – maybe even as soon as this season.

Some of them weren't asked to do a lot last season because they were playing behind established standouts. Others needed a year or more to evolve into players capable of having major impacts on their teams' successes.

Don't expect to find any of the following 10 names on any of the multitude of preseason All-America (and, in many cases, all-conference) teams to be found in magazines or on the Internet.

But each of the 10 (listed alphabetically) is expected to have the proverbial "breakout" season that will all but guarantee spots on those preseason honor squads a year from now – assuming, of course, that they're not in the NBA 12 months hence.

And, with a 2006 NBA draft pool that now seems to have rather slim pickings, you can assume at least a few of these fellows will test their NBA stock come spring.

10 on the road to stardom:

LaMARCUS ALDRIDGE (6-10, So., Texas)

LAST SEASON: 9.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 22.2 minutes per game before missing the final 15 games because of a hip injury.

WHY HE'LL BREAK THROUGH: He's healthy and stronger and more assertive than he was, pre-injury. With so many quality scoring threats in the lineup with him, his scoring numbers might not be eye-popping. But there is no reason why he shouldn't evolve into one of the dominant players at his size in the country this season. Few players will be drawing as much NBA scouting scrutiny.

ANDREW BRACKMAN (6-10, So., North Carolina State)

LAST SEASON: 7.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg and 18.7 mpg while starting 14 times and averaging 18.7 minutes per game. WHY HE'LL BREAK THROUGH: This guy is gifted enough, especially offensively, to be an all-Atlantic Coast Conference choice this season. He's both a Major League Baseball (he brings more than just a little heat as right-handed pitcher) and an NBA prospect. He's one of the reasons the Wolfpack could be good enough to finish second in the ACC.

COREY BREWER (6-8, So., Florida)

LAST SEASON: 7.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg and 24.7 mpg while starting in30 of the Gators' 32 games.

WHY HE'LL BREAK THROUGH: His numbers would have been much more formidable as a freshman if he hadn't been, in most instances, the fourth offensive option behind David Lee, Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh. Brewer and classmate Al Horford will be expected to compensate for the 46 points per game those three accounted for. Brewer is among the most offensively versatile players in the Southeastern Conference, capable of shooting with range, driving by defenders of any size and out-slicking opponents in the post.

JOE CRAWFORD (6-4, So., Kentucky) LAST SEASON: 3.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg and 11 mpg in 31 games as a reserve.

WHY HE'LL BREAK THROUGH: Modest freshman numbers, sure. But don't be surprised if this 2004 McDonald's All-America from Detroit is the team's leading scorer this season. Tubby Smith will deposit him into the wing spot opened with the departure of Kelenna Azubuike last March after his junior season. He's isn't as strong as Azubuike but is just as vertically and horizontally explosive and is a much more fluid player.

CHESTER GILES (6-9, So., Kansas)

LAST SEASON: 2.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg and 8.3 mpg in 21 games, five as a starter.

WHY HE'LL BREAK THROUGH: He's one of three highly recruited post players who saw limited duty as freshmen. And here's saying that the graduate of Rainier Beach High (also the alma mater of the New York Knicks' Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson, as well as Kansas teammate Rodrick Stewart) in Seattle will be the one to become a full-fledged Big 12 big man this season following the departure of Wayne Simien. He might barely break into double figures as a scorer but he should be one of the conference's best rebounders and shot blockers this season.

JAWANN McCLELLAN (6-4, So., Arizona)

LAST SEASON: 5.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg and 15.5 mpg in 37 games, all as a reserve.

WHY HE'LL BREAK THROUGH: He's academically ineligible for the first semester but (assuming he takes care of biz in the classroom) could play as soon as the Wildcats' Dec. 17 game at the University of Utah. He was the best sixth man in the Pacific 10 Conference over the last month of last season and will be the team's prime perimeter scoring threat this season and No. 2 offensive option behind senior Hassan Adams.

DREW NEITZEL (6-0, So., Michigan State)

LAST SEASON: 3.5 ppg, 2.9 assists per game and 16.4 mpg in 31 games, 14 as a starter.

WHY HE'LL BREAK THROUGH: He broke into the starting lineup in the second half of his freshman season but still shared playmaking duties with then-senior Chris Hill. The on-floor quarterbacking job is all on him now and he's more than up the task. He's a much better jump shooter than his .381 shooting percentage of last season would indicate. There isn't going to be many better at his position in the Big Ten – and beyond – this season.

DAVID NOEL (6-6, Sr., North Carolina)

LAST SEASON: 3.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg and 16.7 mpg while never starting for the national champion Tar Heels.

WHY HE'LL BREAK THROUGH: With the program's top seven players having departed after last season, Noel and freshman post Tyler Hansbrough are expected to provide the bulk of the scoring in the post and be the team's two most productive rebounders. He's also got the kind of physical and mental toughness that should lend plenty of support to a group of five freshmen that will have to navigate some bumps in the road, no matter how gifted it might be.

TERRENCE ROBERTS (6-9, Jr., Syracuse)

LAST SEASON: 7.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg and 18.5 mpg in 33 games, the last seven of those as a starter.

WHY HE'LL BREAK THROUGH: He's Jim Boeheim's No. 1 inside presence and demonstrated why he'll be one of the best post players in the Big East Conference during a strong July with USA Basketball. Look for his scoring and rebounding averages to double this season. He dunked 47 of his 95 field goals as a sophomore but he'll prove a more versatile scorer than that as a junior.


LAST SEASON: 9.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg and 23.6 mpg in 31 games, 17 as a starter.

WHY HE'LL BREAK THROUGH: The Rebels' two top scorers of last season have departed and he's an explosive and efficient enough shot maker (.458 from the field, including .367 on 3's) to lead one to believe that he could challenge for Mountain West Conference leading scorer honors.

An April inductee into the USBWA Hall of Fame, Frank Burlison is Scout.com's National Basketball Expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at frank.burlison@presstelegram.com. Read more of Burlison's pieces at www.FrankHoops.com

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