Commentary

Five players who need to step up

Updated: September 27, 2012, 1:44 PM ET
By Dick Vitale

Just sitting and enjoying some breakfast at The Broken Egg in Lakewood Ranch. I am very happy that the real officials are back calling NFL games. Baseball is closing in on its postseason.

College basketball is right around the corner.

I cannot wait for the season to start. Midnight Madness is just a few weeks away. While looking at newspapers and talking to fans, I thought about five vital players that have to step up and make an impact in the upcoming season.

Let's start at Florida. Bradley Beal left for the NBA early. Erving Walker has finished his college career. Billy Donovan will be looking for bigger things from guard Mike Rosario. Remember that Rosario averaged over 16 points per game in his first two seasons at Rutgers. Last season, his first in a Gator uniform, he averaged 6.6 PPG off the bench. Teaming with Kenny Boynton, I believe you will see more productivity from Rosario.

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Spruce Derden-/US PresswireJoe Jackson will have to step up for Memphis now that Will Barton has taken his game to the NBA.

6-5 Wayne Blackshear was sidelined for much of the 2011-12 season following shoulder surgery. Blackshear's presence is one reason I like the Cardinals to make a run to the Final Four. Rick Pitino knows how talented this young man is. Blackshear showed flashes of brilliance, including 13 points against West Virginia in his collegiate debut. He will be a factor this season.

Now that Will Barton is gone, Joe Jackson will have to lead the Memphis Tigers. He came into college with a big-time reputation, but averaged 11 PPG last season while shooting 42 percent from the field. Josh Pastner will need Jackson to step up and average 16-17 a contest if the Tigers are going to move up.

At Kentucky, experience is at a premium. John Calipari is reloading after losing so much talent to the NBA. One player who is back from last year's squad is Kyle Wiltjer and he will come through big-time. He scored 24 points in a win over Loyola, showing what he is capable of. Considering he ended up averaging under five PPG, there is one way to go -- up, baby!

When people look at Michigan, Trey Burke is the first name they think of. I feel Jordan Morgan, the big man up front, has to raise his level of play. He was the top performer on the glass for the Maize and Blue, but he has to provide an inside scoring presence after averaging just over seven PPG.

There you have it: Rosario, Blackshear, Jackson, Wiltjer and Morgan. Keep an eye on these five guys as they must be vital to have a major impact on very good teams.

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.