Each year, I like to take a look at the potential breakout sophomores in the Big Sky. I think I had solid success last year, but let's take a look at this year's crop.
The fact that DeWayne Russell (Northern Arizona) and Venky Jois (Eastern Washington) aren't on this list is a compliment to them, because they have already established themselves. Jois led the conference in rebounding, and Russell was the #2 option for NAU last season. Both these guys can play at a very high level.
Joel Bolomboy (Weber State)
You might be wondering why he doesn't fall in with Russell and Jois, since he ranked fourth in the conference in rebounding last season. Simply put, I think Bolomboy has just scratched the surface of his potential, and think he will even be a lot better this season than he was last year. Last year, he has a 15.1 OR% and 24.1 DR%, making him one of the best rebounders in the country. He shot 58% from the field, and that was without a post game, just mainly on putbacks or lobs. His 7.4 Block % was in the top 100 in the country. With an expanded role this year, he could challenge the nation lead for rebounding, while doubling his scoring average. I'm not sure that's out of the question.
Andy Martin (Montana)
In a perfect world, Martin would have redshirted last year, but the Grizzlies were so thin upfront that they needed him. While he lost a year of eligiblity, he did gain a year of experience playing, and that should serve him well this year. Eric Hutchison may be the nominal starter for the Grizzlies at center, but Martin is the guy with the higher ceiling and should be the better player by the end of the year. He posted an excellent block percentage, and shot an encouraging 80% from the line (in only 24 attempts). He looked clumsy at times last year, and he needs to add some bulk, but he has a good skillset, and should be much improved as a sophomore.
Marcus Colbert (Montana State)
Colbert was one of my favorite players to watch last year, because he was a freshman PG that played like he was an upperclassmen. He needs to improve in taking care of the ball and being more efficient inside the arc, but he does a lot of things well. He shot 40% from three-point land last year, had a solid assist rate for a freshman, and was good on the defensive end. I'm not sure he'll ever be an all-conference guy, but he will be a solid player for the Bobcats for four years.
AJ Hess (Southern Utah)
I talked a bit about him earlier this week, but he is someone that SUU will be relying on heavily. He could be their #1 scoring option, which will be a big step up. The tools are there - he is 6'6'', can shoot from the outside, and gained confidence as the year went along. He posted a 103.2 ORtg last year, now it will be interesting to see if he can keep that up with more minutes and more responsibility.
Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington)
Harvey was one of the big surprises in the Big Sky last year. He wasn't expected to contribute that much, and he didn't at the start of the season. For the year, he played just 23.4% of the team's minutes. However, the last 6-8 games of the year he played a ton (in their final four games, he played an average of a shade under 38 minutes per game), and he responded well. In fact, he was sensational down the stretch. He shot 60% from twos, 43% from threes, and had a 26.3 ARate. Can he keep that up over a full year when teams will be expecting him? If he can, he's an all-conference guy.
- Shane Benton (North Dakota) - He simply won't have a chance this year, with all the guys in front of him. He should figure prominently for UND next year, if only because so many in front of him will be graduating.
- Danny Robison (Montana State) - I like him. He had solid numbers in his limited minutes, but I think he needs some more polish before he gets consistent minutes.
- Jordyn Martin (Northern Arizona) - He rebounded well last year, but has a way to go offensively. With so many new faces around NAU, I'm not sure he'll get enough minutes to really breakout.
- Cody Demps (Sacramento State) - He showed glimpses last year, but not quite enough to make the list. The coaches speak very highly of him though, so this could be a miss on my part.
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