College Basketball Nation: Tyler Roberson

By the time Florida's Chris Walker was cleared to play last season, it was difficult for the freshman to have any sort of real impact. Walker played in just 18 games and didn't even average five minutes.

He's still being projected as a lottery pick for the 2015 NBA draft.

That's why he's all wrong for this particular list of sophomores to watch. Much time is spent following the most talented players and their journey to the pros; consider this equal time tracking the players most likely to develop while staying around a few seasons.

These 12 sophomores should make big improvements from their freshmen seasons -- just not substantial enough to leap right to the NBA. The players were all ranked in the top 100 of the 2013 class by RecruitingNation, but played less than 10 minutes per game as freshmen. (The one exception was Marc Loving, who averaged 10.9 minutes.) Most important, these players will likely all be back as juniors:

[+] EnlargeLuke Fischer
Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY SportsAfter transferring from Indiana, 6-foot-11 center Luke Fischer will be eligible to play Dec. 14.
Luke Fischer, forward/center, Marquette. First-year coach Steve Wojciechowski must be plenty glad Fischer got homesick after just 13 games at Indiana and decided to transfer. Fischer will be eligible in December, which can't come soon enough for the Golden Eagles, who lost their top three rebounders and lack the size that the 6-foot-11 Fischer brings.

Tre'Shaun Fletcher, guard/forward, Colorado. Fletcher suffered a knee injury and missed 14 games as a freshman. When healthy last season, he proved to be a reliable reserve and his role should expand next season.

Conner Frankamp, guard, Kansas. The Jayhawks are looking for the stability at point guard they never seemed to get last season. Frankamp could provide it, not to mention add another shooter to the lineup. He'll have his chance to start at point if he can beat out Frank Mason and Devonte Graham.

Anton Gill, guard, Louisville. Gill's offensive skills weren't questioned, but as strictly a shooting guard, he wasn't versatile enough to work his way into the backcourt rotation. He still figures to be coming off the bench, with Terry Rozier and Chris Jones starting, but Gill will make an impact this season.

Isaiah Hicks, forward, North Carolina. Hicks appeared in every game as a freshman for the Tar Heels, but mainly played out of position at small forward. This season he should be returning to power forward, where he should establish himself as the Heels' top frontcourt reserve.

Kuran Iverson, forward, Memphis. At this point, he may be best known for being related to Allen Iverson. That claim to fame should change next season, when the Tigers no longer have such a guard-centric lineup. Iverson could help make the wings the strongest position on the team.

Matt Jones, guard, Duke. Coach Mike Krzyzewski believed in him enough to start him four times, but Jones has to rediscover his confidence after shooting just 29 percent from the floor. If he doesn't, he could find himself buried in a roster that just got a lot deeper with the incoming freshman class.

Marcus Lee, forward, Kentucky. Lee showed how effective he could be with his 10-point, eight-rebound performance in just 15 minutes in the Elite Eight game against Michigan. But his toughest competition is arguably the Wildcats' crowded frontcourt. It's hard to envision how he'll get enough playing time to stand out.

Marc Loving, forward, Ohio State. LaQuinton Ross' decision to turn pro left the Buckeyes sorely lacking in scorers. Here's where Loving will have a chance to make a big leap from his freshman season average of 4.4 points. He'll likely find himself in the starting lineup after appearing in all 35 games last season but starting none.

Elliott Pitts, guard, Arizona. Even with the departure of Nick Johnson, the Wildcats will still have a crowded backcourt. Pitts proved to be a 3-point threat from off the bench last season, shooting 39 percent from deep. That and his 6-foot-5 frame could help him crack the rotation more next season.

Tyler Roberson, forward, Syracuse. Playing behind C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant meant Roberson had to wait his turn. His lone start last season came when Grant was injured. But after averaging 2.2 points in 8.1 minutes per game, Roberson will be needed to help the Orange solve their scoring woes.

Ish Wainright, guard/forward, Baylor. The Bears lost three of their top four scorers, including 3-point sharpshooter Brady Heslip. Wainright doesn't have the same range that Heslip had, but his size and length bring versatility to the lineup. At 6-foot-5, he can play multiple positions and has the potential to be a lockdown defender.
1. Syracuse has done an exceptional job of handling its departure from the Big East as to not alienate any of the former rivals. The Orange have scheduled Villanova and St. John’s for next season and likely will get a deal done with Georgetown for either 2014 or 2015. Colorado handled its exit from the Big 12 in a similar fashion and plays former rivals Kansas, Oklahoma State and Baylor this season. It’s time for Kansas and Missouri to look at doing something similar. The same is true for Pitt and West Virginia, as well as Texas and Texas A&M. Kansas, with the best non-conference schedule in the country, doesn’t need Mizzou. But it would still create an incredible atmosphere at a neutral site, if that’s the best the two sides can do (maybe alternate between Kansas City and St. Louis). Mizzou needs the game more than Kansas, based on the weaker bottom half of the SEC for power-rating points. Pitt’s schedule is soft and could use another power-five school like West Virginia. Playing the game, even at the home of the Penguins, should be a start. Texas has no issue getting games. Meanwhile, the Aggies either can’t or choose not to find quality in their non-conference scheduling. Getting Texas on the slate at least would create some interest in their non-conference scheduling. Egos need to be checked. In an era where college basketball needs to generate non-conference interest, playing these games that fans actually care about should be a priority over another guarantee game against a school with an unfamiliar name.

2. Tyler Roberson isn’t listed on the Syracuse website roster yet, but he has been cleared to play. And that’s great news for Syracuse and the attempt to unseat ACC favorite Duke in the first year of being in the league. "He’s obviously a good player," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim of the 6-7 forward from Union, N.J. "He gives us some depth at forward with C.J. [Fair] and Jerami [Grant]. It gives us three athletic, quick forwards. We’re excited about that." Boeheim said the news Roberson is eligible has bigger ramifications. "Long-range, that’s the key," said Boeheim of a replacement for Fair once he’s done with his eligibility in the spring of 2014. "Next year, he’ll be really, really good by then. He’s a really good player. He’s pretty quick."

3. Utah State has a rarity of hosting two schools from power conferences in USC (Pac-12) and Mississippi State (SEC) in Logan this season -- the first for the Aggies in the Mountain West. The series with the Bulldogs is a two-for-one that coach Stew Morrill wasn’t thrilled with but will do. The Aggies went out to Starkville in 2012 (lost by two), get the Bulldogs in Logan this season after the series took a year off under new coach Rick Ray and will go back next season. The USC game was as a result of the Aggies going to USC -- Sept. 21 -- in football. "My AD (Scott Barnes) asked that if we do that could we get a home and home in basketball," said Morrill. The series was supposed to start last season in Logan but former USC coach Kevin O'Neill said he needed to put it off a year but then would play the opener this season. O’Neill then got fired. "I told him there was a hefty buyout to move it back a year and that the buyout doubled," said Morrill. "Andy (Enfield) got the job, and there was a $150,000 buyout on this game." Utah State opens up with USC at home Nov. 8 and will return the game next season. "People have no idea how hard it is to get games," said Morrill. Utah State has kept the BYU series in Salt Lake City on a neutral court. Utah has put off playing Utah State and Morrill said he would only play the Utes in a home-and-home situation.

SPONSORED HEADLINES