It has been far too long since College Basketball has last taken place and we don’t exactly know when the next game will occur. That being said, it is never too early to start looking ahead to next season. For this, I will be taking a look at some potential breakout candidates from each power conference and for this, I will be starting with the ACC. This league went through an underwhelming season in 2020 but is looking to have a better season and having some great breakout players is helpful to that. Here are my top breakout candidates from the ACC heading into next season.
David Johnson – Louisville
There might not be a single-player that I am more excited to see develop next season than David Johnson. Johnson started the season slowly because of an injury but he quickly picked it up. He notably had 19 points and 7 assists as Louisville went on the road and beat Duke. Johnson averaged 6.3 points and 2.8 assists per game, while only playing 16 minutes per game. With a lot of pieces gone, Johnson should see a major increase in minutes, if he can develop as expected, Johnson could be in position to average north of 12 points and 5 assists per game.
Casey Morsell – Virginia
Following a year in which Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome were outstanding in helping Virginia win a National Championship, there were high expectations for freshman guard Casey Morsell. Unfortunately for Virginia, Morsell struggled, only averaging 4 points per game while shooting an abysmal 17.6% from three. While it is hard to project a major improvement in shooting in most instances, in this case, Morsell will almost certainly improve as a shooter, because it’s almost impossible to get any worse. Add that to another year of development, plus more time learning the Virginia system and he’ll see a major improvement from year one into year two. Remember, Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome weren’t that good in their first year at Virginia, a year later they led the Cavaliers to a one seed in the NCAA Tournament, and two years later a National Championship.
Wendell Moore – Duke
Coming into this season, Duke is in a weird spot. They have a lot of really young and talented players but they are in need of either Wendell Moore or Matthew Hurt to step up offensively. My pick to do so is Moore. Moore averaged 7.4 points per game last season while shooting 41.6% from the floor. Moore should improve upon his efficiency next season while he will be asked to score a little more. While Moore still will probably be a third option on the team, his improvement will be a major factor in helping Duke contend for the ACC title.
Samuell Williamson – Louisville
Last season it was Samuell Williamson and not David Johnson, that many expected to play a major factor from day one. While Williamson struggled, the opportunity arises this year for him to play a big role. With Dwayne Sutton and Jordan Nwora gone, the Cardinals need someone to step in and play at the forward spot and Williamson fits in perfectly. He’s a 6’7” player with guard-like skills, he shot 47% from the floor and averaged 4.4 points per game. Look for him to take a major step forward this year and be a big piece as the Cardinals look to be a top-tier team in the league.
Jalen Cone – Virginia Tech
After a great start to the year, Virginia Tech really fell off in ACC play, en route to missing the NCAA Tournament. That was kind of the expectation for the Hokies going into last season and while they don’t necessarily get better from a roster perspective, they have a multitude of guys who are in for breakout seasons, including Jalen Cone. Cone became more of a sixth man for the Hokies last season but was decent when on the court, as he averaged 8 points per game while shooting 45.7% from three on the season. While Cone was good offensively, his restrictions defensively oftentimes led him to play fewer minutes. With some roster turnover and another year of development, especially on the defensive end. I think it would be wise to anticipate someone breaking out and being a major impact player for the Hokies, and for me, that player is Jalen Cone.