Every college basketball season features its share of breakout stars. The nature of graduation and early entry to the NBA Draft ensures new players will blossom.
Some take bigger steps than others, some because of opportunity, some because of a sophomore surge and some seemingly out of nowhere.
With one exception (ACC leading scorer Cat Barber of N.C. State), all of these players have at least doubled their points per game output since their last season. The top 10 scoring leaps in the ACC this season, with statistics through Monday.
Grayson Allen, Duke (15.9-point increase): A classic example of a player making the most of an uptick of minutes, Allen also rarely leaves the floor for the short-handed Blue Devils. He’s jumped from 4.4 points a night to 20.3.
Zach LeDay, Virginia Tech (12.5): All credit to LeDay, who averaged an unremarkable 3.5 points and 2.6 rebounds two seasons ago at South Florida. In twice the minutes, he’s managing 16.0 points and 8.4 rebounds for the improved Hokies, numbers virtually no one outside the Virginia Tech locker room saw coming.
Minus Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner from last year and then down Terry Henderson since the season opener, the Wolfpack needed Cat Barber to carry the load offensively. He has, averaging a league-best 22.1 points.
Cat Barber, N.C. State (10.0): Minus Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner from last year and then down Terry Henderson since the season opener, the Wolfpack needed Barber to carry the load offensively. He has, averaging a league-best 22.1 points.
Joel Berry II, North Carolina (8.4): The sophomore jump combined with added opportunity (both in a starting role and playing a larger role in the offense when Marcus Paige was injured) have made a difference here. Berry has nearly tripled his scoring output (from 4.2 per game last year to 12.6 this season).
Ja’Quan Newton, Miami (8.0): Quietly, the Hurricanes’ No. 2 scorer, Newton is averaging 12 points a night off the bench.
Chinanu Onuaku, Louisville (7.6): The KenPom.com player of the year rankings peg Onuaku at No. 10 – in the country. He’s probably not that good, but his 10.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game are crucial for the Cardinals.
Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame (7.0): Colson showed promise late last season and slid into a larger role as a sophomore. Both his minutes and his scoring have more than doubled this year.
Matt Jones, Duke (6.4): While he’s slowed a bit in league play, Jones is still averaging 12.4 points and is logging extensive minutes for the Blue Devils.
Caleb Martin, N.C. State (6.4): Martin’s done just about everything better as a sophomore, and that includes a scoring leap from 4.8 points per night to 11.2.
Quentin Snider, Louisville (6.0): The guard’s role expanded late last season after Chris Jones’ dismissal. His place in the rotation steadier from the start of this year, Snider is posting 10.1 points an outing.
Other leaps of note: N.C. State’s Abdul-Malik Abu (up 5.6 points per game to 12.0); Virginia’s London Perrantes (up 5.5 points to 11.9); and Notre Dame’s V.J. Beachem (up 5.1 points to 11.0).
Which is the only ACC program to earn multiple men’s basketball victories at all three Triangle schools since the league expanded in 2004-05?
Foul problems for Jackets
Georgia Tech (11-8, 1-5) visits N.C. State on Wednesday, and maybe the safest prediction to make about the game is that the Wolfpack will take more free throws in the second half than the Yellow Jackets.
Maybe a lot more.
Georgia Tech is 33 of 56 at the line after the break in conference play, a meager 58.9 percent. Just as startling is that its opponents are 100 of 127 (78.7 percent) and have made twice as many foul shots as the Yellow Jackets have tried in the second half in four of their six games.
End-game fouling accounts for some of the discrepancy, but what’s curious is that Brian Gregory’s bunch doesn’t field smallball oriented lineups. According to KenPom.com, Georgia Tech’s 10 most frequent lineups over the last five games feature two of Ben Lammers, Charles Mitchell and James White, all of whom are 6-foot-8 or taller and unquestionably interior players. Clearly, though, they have not excelled at drawing fouls in league play.
The only ACC program to earn multiple victories at all three Triangle schools since 2004-05 is Miami, which has won twice at Duke (2012 and 2015), three times at North Carolina (2006, 2013 and 2014) and twice at N.C. State (2013 and 2014). The Hurricanes visit N.C. State on Saturday