It’s time to give you 5 players that I think are going to break-out this year and I will give you the all break out 2nd team at a later date. Players who last year played a lesser role who at the least are going to be major contributors if not stars this year. In order to qualify for the break-out teams a player needs to meet 3 criteria: 1. Have played division 1 college basketball his last eligible year (last season redshirts eligible) 2. averaged less than 10 points per game in his last Division 1 season 3. as of this article be eligible to play this season
All Break-Out first Team
G Caleb Nero (SO) North Dakota: Nero sat out last season after transferring from Weber State and Nero may be fitting right into a perfect spot. The Fighting Hawks need someone to take the spot in the lineup of all League guard Marlon Stewart. While no one expects Nero to replace Stewart, it’s easy to see Nero coming in and showing himself well in his first season in Grand Forks. Nero is likely to add a third double-digit scorer to the nucleus of Filip Rebraca and De’Sean Allen-Eikens.
G/F Marlon Ruffin (JR) Omaha: Out of all the players on this list Ruffin in my opinion is the most likely to go from reserve to star this season. There were times especially in the second half of last year where Ruffin was just fantastic. He worked his way to more and more minutes as the season went on. In the first 15 games of the year Ruffin scored in double digits one time, the last 17 games of the year Ruffin scored in double digits 12 times. Now add in the fact that JT Gibson and KJ Robinson have both graduated, welcome your new Mavericks star guard. I think there is a legit chance Ruffin is a first-team all Summit League member at the end of the year. Just have to point to the game Ruffin scored 30 as a reserve against Western Illinois last year.
G/F Sam Griesel (JR) North Dakota State: Good athlete, in the right spot, great size. Griesel has all the tools to be a great Summit League guard. Questions still to be answered as to whether Griesel will take on a bigger role, but I see a little bit of former NDSU G/F Tyson Ward’s role for Griesel. Someone is going to step up in Coach Dave Richman’s system and Griesel now becomes the veteran and I think he steps up. Griesel needs to become more consistent from outside to really step into that role, but it seems we are often asking how is NDSU going to replace a good player and they always do.
F Deshang Weaver (SO) Oral Roberts: Weaver did me a favor by averaging just short of double-digits his freshman year. Weaver is a fantastic athlete and was poised for a fantastic sophomore year last year before suffering a knee injury that cost him his season. Now Weaver returns for his sophomore season ready to contribute to an Oral Roberts team that lost two high-level scorers to graduation. Not only did Weaver show an ability to score driving the basketball and scoring down low in his freshmen season, but Weaver also shot 42% from behind the arc his first year in the league. Weaver scored 9.8 points per game while averaging less than 25 minutes a game. If Weaver is physically ready after missing last season, he could put up special numbers in Tulsa.
F/C Robert Jones (SO) Denver: Jones growth down low was fun to watch last year. Jones played a big role as Denver made their late run to get the 8 seed and travel to Sioux Falls. I see further growth for Jones this season. Jones scored in double digits 5 of his last 7 games including scoring 21pts and gathering 7 rebounds in the conference tournament loss to eventual champion North Dakota State. Jones is a gifted athlete in the post and it was fun to watch him develop poise and confidence as the year progressed. His freshman year was just the start of good things for Jones in a Pioneers uniform.