Commentary

Sophomores to watch next season

Updated: May 8, 2014, 3:53 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

London Perrantes, Trevor CooneyRich Barnes/Getty ImagesReturning sophomore London Perrantes led Virginia with 3.8 assists per game in 2013-14.

I was recently having breakfast at Another Broken Egg when I got into a discussion with a fan about freshmen.

While there are so many one-and-done guys going to the pros, there are also numerous diaper dandies who helped their teams and are returning. It takes some freshmen time to adjust to the collegiate scene, and some end up shining as superb sophomores.

Let's take a look at my Elite Eight, a group of players who will have increased responsibilities as sophomores. They need to excel to move their respective teams forward.

Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin: I love his athleticism and there were times he showed flashes of brilliance. I believe he will be a superstar before he leaves Madison. Next season, teaming up with Frank Kaminsky (who turned down the lure of the pros), Hayes should be special.

London Perrantes, Virginia: He had a solid season as a diaper dandy, running the Virginia offense and posting a terrific assist-to-turnover ratio. Now that Joe Harris is gone, Perrantes will see the spotlight shining in his direction more often. The Cavs won 30 games last season and will be strong again in 2014-15.

Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina: One of the best outlet passers I have seen in a long time -- he reminds me of Wes Unseld. Meeks can dominate on the glass and he will have a greater role now that James Michael McAdoo is NBA-bound.

Kasey Hill, Florida: With Scottie Wilbekin gone, Hill will have the ball in his hands, running the Gators' attack. His speed makes him a serious threat.

Zak Irvin, Michigan: Nik Stauskas is gone, so the Wolverines will have greater expectations for Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr.

Anthony Barber, NC State: His upside makes Mark Gottfried happy. He has to play under control, but he showed signs of reaching his potential.

Terry Rozier, Louisville: Now that Russ Smith is gone, you should hear more from Rozier, who averaged 7 PPG in 19 minutes per contest last season.

Terrence Samuel, Connecticut: He logged valuable minutes in the NCAA championship run. With Shabazz Napier gone, Samuel will see a greater role. Ryan Boatright is returning to Storrs and Rodney Purvis (transfer from NC State) is eligible, but keep an eye on Samuel, as Kevin Ollie has confidence in him.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.

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