Patriot League Breakout Candidates for 2013-14 Season

It’s always a fun exercise to predict potential breakout players who were lightly used in the early part of their career. We’ve had good success performing this exercise in the NEC, so as I venture into the Patriot League this season, allow me to highlight several players who have the potential and opportunity to morph into average to above average regulars for their particular team. Most of the list was devised from talking to head coaches, fellow writers, and fans on the message boards. Here are five (or six) names I’m expecting a bigger impact from. Let’s begin.

Will Kelly, Navy – With Tilman Dunbar and Kendall Knorr around, Will Kelly was a bit overlooked as a freshman at the Naval Academy. Despite his slender build, Kelly managed to post a 17.7% defensive rebounding rate, good enough for 364th in all of the country. With another offseason to bulk up, the sophomore is more prepared to body up opposing big men with 20 pounds of muscle added to his frame. The newfound weight has also injected some confidence into his game, so it’s fair to expect he’ll get a majority of the frontcourt minutes opposite of Worth Smith. Kelly won’t be asked to score much, but the 6’9″ post presence can surely serve as a very good rebounder and shot blocker in his second season.

Is Malcolm Miller poised to have a breakout season for Holy Cross? (Photo credit - Holy Cross Athletics)
Is Malcolm Miller poised to have a breakout season for Holy Cross? (Photo credit – Holy Cross Athletics)

Malcolm Miller – All reports out of Worcester this offseason suggest that junior Malcolm Miller is ready to take next step. It will be needed with defenses constantly focusing on Dave Dudzinski and Justin Burrell. Last season, only the Bucknell duo of Mike Muscala and Cameron Ayers took a higher percentage of their team’s shots than Dudzinski and Burrell, thus Milan Brown is desperate to find scoring production elsewhere in the lineup. The 6’6″ forward has already shown progress on the defensive end (21.4% defensive rebounding rate, 3.5% block rate), now he just needs to be more assertive and efficient with the basketball in his hands.

Damon Sherman-Newsome, Colgate – The junior isn’t your typical three-year transfer. After playing his high school ball in Alaska, an under recruited area, Sherman-Newsome garnered little attention from Division I programs and was forced to play a year of junior college. Now beginning his third season, the multi-skilled swingman is in the best condition of his life and is primed for a breakout. He’s got excellent size for a perimeter player and should see an increased role offensively, according to his head coach. There are some terrific scoring options in Murphy Burtatowski and Pat Moore, so Sherman-Newsome simply needs to compliment those two. We’re confident his scoring average will bump up to double digits if things break right.

Eric Laster, Loyola (MD) – Exhibitions versus inferior Division II programs should always be taken with a grain of salt, yet Eric Laster did stand out against Shippenberg last week. At 6’6″, Laster possesses intriguing size and athleticism at the wing, and should have ample opportunity to score and reek havoc in transition; G.G. Smith would like his team to push the tempo when possible. He may have only played 10% of the team’s available minutes as a rookie, but with Robert Olsen no longer blocking him, a potential breakout is foreseen. He’ll be a difficult player to defend in the Patriot League.

(Another Greyhound to keep your eye on is power forward Franz Rasmann. The 6’8″ sophomore is built like a typical Patriot League forward, and the opportunity is there to put up some numbers in Smith’s lineup.)

Bryce Scott, Lafayette – Tony Johnson and Seth Hinrichs get much of the credit regarding Lafayette’s second half run last season, and rightfully so, but few were singing the praises of Bryce Scott. In the Leopards final 14 games, Scott posted an average efficiency rating of 10.9. As a freshman, he shot 42.7% (on 103 attempts) from behind the arc, and given his stellar free-throw percentage, it’s highly unlikely that was a fluke. With Johnson no longer in the fold, getting shots may be a little more difficult for Scott and company, but we’re expecting the sophomore to continue to post impressive numbers in Fran O’Hanlon’s former league leading offense.

Are there any other potential breakouts I possibly overlooked? Let me know in the comments section!

You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride

2 thoughts on “Patriot League Breakout Candidates for 2013-14 Season

  1. If Bucknell’s Chris Hass has improved his defense enough to play a lot, he is definitely a candidate. His offensive skills are very good – good enough to earn starter’s minutes if his defense comes around.


    1. I felt like I should have added someone from Bucknell, whether it’s Hass, Fitzpatrick, or Hoffman. Then again, Azzinaro and MacLeay certainly have the potential to contribute right away as freshmen. Someone likely will step up for Paulsen.


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