While the Big Ten continues to find new ways to not have a team from their conference win a National Championship, the league has been historically great since 2019 and should continue to be a great league this season. The league probably won’t be the same as last year thanks to a large number of departures, however, that will leave room for players to have a breakout season. As mentioned in the previous editions, a player must be returning to the same school qualify in order to qualify as a breakout candidate, so no transfers will be on the list. Now without any further introduction, these are my breakout candidates.
André Curbello – Illinois
When it comes to sophomore breakouts, there may be no player more poised for a breakout season than André Curbello, who will likely take over as the Illinois starting point guard. Curbello is a high-energy point guard that is a fantastic playmaker, good defender, and terrific passer. Curbello should step in and be an excellent lead ball-handler, his ability to set up Kofi Cockburn will be key and if he has a major breakout, he has All-Big Ten upside.
Keegan Murray – Iowa
After losing three of their top four scorers, Iowa is set to go through a rebuild, setting up players like Keegan Murray in prime position to have a breakout season. Murray was very good in a limited capacity, he’s someone with NBA upside because of his size, length, and athleticism, but he needs to improve as a scorer. Murray should develop his offensive game and become a reliable scorer inside while helping Iowa avoid a major drop-off from last season.
Jaden Ivey – Purdue
Jaden Ivey was a very good player at Purdue a season ago, but looking forward to this year, the Boilermakers are looking for Ivey to be an All-American candidate. Ivey was the clear #2 option a season ago but really emerged late in the season as he was more aggressive and developed as a shot-creator throughout the season. Ivey was also really good in the U19 games, being probably the best player on that team, making the breakout seem poised to take place. Look for Ivey to be a great offensive piece, likely being an All-American candidate and hoping to lead Purdue to not only a Big Ten title but a national title as well.
Jonathan Davis – Wisconsin
After being a key piece off the bench a season ago, Wisconsin will likely turn towards Jonathan Davis to be the go-to guy for the Badgers this season. Davis will likely be the starting point guard for the Badgers, his ability to penetrate off the bounce is something you don’t see much at Wisconsin. Davis will now be the main option offensively and should he develop and be more efficient as a scorer, he has All-League upside.
Paul Mulcahy – Rutgers
Paul Mulcahy has been a player that was really underrated a season ago, but now this season will have high-level expectations to contribute for Rutgers. Mulcahy is a good shooter, good ball-handler, passer, and defender, but now needs to step up and be the third-best guard. Look for Mulcahy to develop and become a double-digits per game type scorer, run the point at times, and help Rutgers get back to the NCAA Tournament.
Cliff Omoruyi – Rutgers
Myles Johnson was a great program big man for Rutgers in the past but with Johnson gone, there is room for the program’s top recruit of this century to step in and be the go-to option inside. Omoruyi is a really good interior scorer, elite rebounder, and like Johnson, a very poor free throw shooter. Look for Omoruyi to step in and be a good dump-down option offensively while being a good shot-blocker as well, all of which will be key in Rutgers making the NCAA Tournament.
AJ Hoggard – Michigan State
While last season was a mess for Michigan State, they still made the tournament and AJ Hoggard looked like he could be a long-term piece at the point guard. Hoggard is a good ball-handler, solid passer, although he looked overwhelmed at times and didn’t really seem like a threat offensively. Look for him to develop his offensive game a little bit and be a good piece at the point while hoping to help Michigan State improve from last year.