While one-and-done players are often in the spotlight, most programs continue to rely on upperclassmen.
Every season, for a variety of reasons, some of these returners games’ progress and they develop from secondary options into stars.
But, who is ready to take the next step?
Here are five returning players with the potential to break out:
Markus Howard, Marquette G
Howard should become a household name this season as he undoubtedly will be one of the best shooters in the country. The junior has knocked down more than 45 percent of his career 3-point attempts and averaged 17 points per game over his first two seasons with the Golden Eagles. Marquette could become a top team in the Big East and make a run in the NCAA Tournament after playing in the NIT in 2017-18. If the Golden Eagles reach those goals, Howard will be the main reason why.
Oshae Brissett, Syracuse F
Brissett seemingly came out of nowhere in 2017-18. The 6-6 Canadian forward unexpectedly blossomed into a major contributor for the Orange. He showed an ability to attack the basket on dribble drives, knock down jump shots and defend multiple positions. Syracuse returns almost all of its rotation from a team that reached the Sweet 16 last season. Brissett and star guard Tyus Battle will combine to form a scoring tandem that should frighten opponents.
Carsen Edwards, Purdue G
The Boilermakers will hand Edwards the keys to its offense. The point guard is already a very productive player as he averaged 18.5 points per game and shot 40.6 percent from 3-point range in 2017-18. Those are impressive numbers, but Purdue will ask Edwards to raise his game to a whole different level this season. As a sophomore, Edwards shared the ball with Isaac Haas, Vincent Edwards and Dakota Mathias. But all three are no longer on campus, meaning Edwards will have all the scoring opportunities he wants. The junior was named a preseason first-team AP All-American in mid-October.
Dean Wade, Kansas State F
Kansas State enters the season as the team most likely to unseat Kansas for the Big 12 title, and Wade is a frontrunner for the conference’s Player of the Year. The 6-10 forward missed a chance to shine in the brightest spotlight as he was limited by a foot injury during the Wildcats’ run to the Elite Eight in 2017-18. He is fully healthy this season and will be a versatile scorer. The big man’s a threat behind the 3-point line and creates space on the floor for his teammates. He can also finish around the rim. Wade will be a matchup problem throughout his senior year.
Eric Paschall, Villanova F
Paschall’s role will increase tremendously for the defending champions. The Fordham transfer was a valuable scorer for the Wildcats during their run to the title last season. But while he tallied 10.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, he typically was the fourth or fifth option on the floor. That won’t be the case this season. Paschall is Villanova’s best returner as it lost four of its top six rotation players to the NBA Draft following 2017-18. Paschall should continue to develop as a go-to scorer as he will have the ball in his hands a lot more during his final college season.
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