If you read my article on the All-Summit break out first team I laid out 5 players I thought were poised for a big year after averaging less than 10 points per game in division one the last year they played Division 1. We all know there are more than 5 players in the Summit poised for this type of break out so here is my next 5 players that could break out this year.
G Ayo Akinwole (SR) Omaha: In other articles and on the podcast we have discussed the loss of star guards JT Gibson and KJ Robinson and who we thought would fill the void. On my first team, I proposed Marlon Ruffin could be one such player. So could Akinwole. In fact, I predict at the very least Akinwole is top 5 in assists in the Summit this year. In his 4th year in Coach Derrin Hansen’s system, it really could be Akinwole’s time to shine. A good shooter who kept the offense running smoothly when he was in the game last year. A scenario where Akinwole scores 12 pts and 4.5 assists a game is not out of the question. In a year where there is little in known veteran ballhandlers in Summit, there is no such worry with the Mavericks. Maybe I am overestimating Akinwole’s impact as a primary ball-handler but those duties were split three ways and Akinwole seems the most likely to take the majority of the responsibility.
G Marvin Nesbitt (SR) Kansas City: It’s hard to predict a break out when it comes to Kansas City. 9 players averaged at least 16 minutes and none over 28 last year. Last year’s leading scorer averaged 11 pts per game. The Roos ran deep and may employ a similar tactic this year. So when we are talking break out probably not talking a 17 ppg type break out. However, Nesbitt is a big guard at 6’4 and shot 45% from behind the arc. It was on only 1.7 shots per game but Nesbitt is a career 38% shooter. Nesbitt averaged 21 minutes per game last year and could certainly see in the range of 28 on a rebuilt Kansas City squad hit by graduation. A good defender who averaged close to a steal per game and almost 4 rebounds all numbers should go up for Nesbitt this year.
F Rod Johnson (SR) Western Illinois: This is as much an opportunity pick than anything else. If another player on Western is the break out it would not surprise me. In his interview with me, Western Illinois Coach Rob Jeter made sure to mention Sr forward Anthony Jones a couple of times so maybe the lone scholarship returnee from last year’s team comes through. Instead, I went with Johnson, a grad transfer who likes to shot from the outside and play down low. Johnson put up solid numbers 6.7 pts and 4.5 reb last year at Chattanooga. This was in 20 minutes. It seems logical that Jeter would like veteran leadership out on the floor with his young transitioning team. Johnson could be that guy, and I added in Jones so I could later brag I also thought he could be if he breaks out this year.
F Brady Heiman (SO) South Dakota: This pick is based more on Heiman’s potential as a high major transfer than anything you can take from his stats at Nebraska. Heiman was used infrequently as a freshman in the big ten, but has good size at 6’11 and is talked about as a potential impact player. Couple that with the losses the Coyotes took from last year’s team and someone will need to step in to fill the void. Fresh off his redshirt season that easily could be Heiman. Heiman did play in 30 games as a freshman at Nebraska and did average a half-block per game in only 8 minutes. So Heiman will likely make an immediate impact defensively and rebounding and may remain to be seen his offensive impact. Certainly encouraging for Coyote fans to have someone of Heiman’s pedigree joining the fold this season.
F/C Elijah Lufile (SO) Oral Roberts: No one is expecting Lufile to be Emmanuel Nzekwesi, however, the keys to the paint may have been put in pretty capable hands with Lufile. Lufile quietly had a very solid freshman campaign for the Golden Eagles averaging 5.6 pts and 5.3 rebounds in only 15 minutes per game and any Oral Roberts fan will tell you there are minutes to be gained down low. There are many other players who will be taking shots for ORU so maybe Lufile doesn’t have a drastic change in scoring maybe not even double digits, but would I be shocked if he averaged 25 minutes and over 8 rebounds per game along with averaging close to double digits scoring. Not at all. The potential starting lineup including Lufile, Kevin Obanor, Deshang Weaver, and Max Abmas is why many are high on the Golden Eagles this year. If not all breakout, Lufile is at least on the Summit All Biceps team.