Commentary

Six sophs ready to take step forward

Updated: May 30, 2012, 10:37 AM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

It is not easy to make the adjustment from BMOC (big man on campus) in high school, to diaper dandy at the collegiate level. It is interesting to see how some players take more time to adjust to the college game, to the different lifestyle, to the improved competition.

Here are six players who will have to, as super sophs in 2012-13, elevate their game and be consistent. They showed moments of stardom last season, but they must become more dominant for their teams to succeed at the level which is expected.

Let's start at North Carolina. The Tar Heels lost a lot of talent to the NBA draft, including Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and John Henson. Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams is happy that James Michael McAdoo will be back in Chapel Hill. McAdoo averaged less than four points per game in ACC play during the regular season, but showed a lot with more responsibility in the big dance. Carolina relied on him more in the tourney and he averaged almost 12 points per game in the NCAAs. Look for big things from him next season.

[+] EnlargeKyle Wiltjer
AP Photo/Fred BeckhamKyle Wiltjer is one of the few players coming back for Kentucky's national title team.

National champion Kentucky lost most of its talent from a season ago. One guy back to keep an eye on is Kyle Wiltjer. He showed glimpses during limited playing time and John Calipari will call on him to be a difference-maker in the season ahead. He can go inside or step out and shoot the jumper.

Louisville made the Final Four last season and if Rick Pitino's team is going to return, it needs a healthy Wayne Blackshear in the lineup. Plagued by a shoulder injury, he returned and showed his potential.

With Fab Melo gone, Syracuse will count on Rakeem Christmas to help out more in the paint. Christmas, at 6-9, provides size and the ability to control the glass.

Adonis Thomas was a McDonald's All-American who played in just 19 games for Memphis last season. He averaged 8.8 points per game, but Josh Pastner believes better things are ahead for Thomas.

Connecticut lost Jeremy Lamb from the backcourt, which means Ryan Boatright should have more scoring responsibilities. He showed quickness when he got into the lineup following an NCAA inquiry into his eligibility. Look for big things from the guard this season.

These super six sophs should be heard from next season.

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.