Every year during the NCAA Tournament, lesser known players on teams with legit national title aspirations always seem to have Breakout Games that catapult them into the national spotlight. These players usually take a backseat to their higher profile teammates during the regular season but step up when needed the most. The following players are who we believe have the capability to have Breakout Games that helps their teams advance far into the NCAA Tournament, while finally getting the recognition they deserve.
OPPORTUNITY AWAITS THESE 5 PLAYERS
CONNER FRANKAMP (WICHITA STATE): It seems that the 6’1″ shooting guard has been wearing a Wichita State jersey forever. Playing alongside a top-tier point guard in Landry Shamet has made the senior from Wichita,KS fade into the background a little bit. However, Shockers head coach Gregg Marshall knows just how valuable he is. Making the transition into the AAC Conference wasn’t as difficult as some thought it would be. Wichita State has a legit shot at making the Final 4.
If they intend to make a run, Frankamp will need to play a pivotal role. He is a spot-up shooter who will get open looks due to Shamet. He has the ability to get hot from the 3-point line in a hurry. His experience of being in the NCAA Tournament as well as being a team leader is invaluable at this time of the year. If the Shockers are up in a close game, the smart money is that the all will be in Frankamp’s hand. He has been perfect from the free-throw line for the entire season. He is 32 for 32.
MARQUES BOLDEN (DUKE): We would have never thought Bolden would make this list after an illustrious high school career. The 6’10” center was a consensus 5-star recruit in the high school class of 2016. However, he never got going last year as a freshman. He only averaged 6.5 minutes per game and was in and out of Mike Krzyzewski’s dog-house. This year has been better for the Texas native. In 13 minutes per game, he is averaging 4pts and 3reb per outing.
While the numbers aren’t what you would expect from such a highly touted recruit, he has done a very solid job while star freshman PF Marvin Bagley III was out with an injury. Bolden has provided solid minutes off the bench and a big body in the middle for Duke. He becomes even more valuable if Bagley III or fellow freshman Wendell Carter Jr. get into foul trouble during the tournament. Even though his touches are very limited, Bolden has a 60% field goal percentage. This NCAA Tournament might be the time Marques Bolden makes himself reknown among college basketball fans.
CANE BROOME (CINCINNATI): Broome started his collegiate career at Sacred Heart. After pouring in 23.1 points per game during the 2015-16, he decided to jump to high level division 1 basketball. After sitting out last season as he was one of the more talented transfers in 2018, the 6’0″ guard has played solid basketball all season long. The Connecticut native is 1 of 10 Bearcats that average 10 minutes or more per game. Head Coach Mick Cronin has done a great job of building depth as Cincinnati is a legitimate Final 4 contender. If Cincinnati plays during the last weekend of the college basketball season, Broome will have to play a big role.
Broome (8.3pts, 3ast, 1.5reb) is playing perhaps his basketball right now. He has scored 13 or more points in 4 of the past 5 games. The one main weakness for the Bearcats has been long-range shooting. The junior has the capability of getting hot from outside as he has made 30 3-pointers on the year, while shooting 43% from deep. Broome’s ability to make the outside shot opens up the inside game for a talented and physical front-court. Cane Broome left Sacred Heart to play big-time college basketball. He now has the perfect opportunity to have breakout games during this tournament.
DONTE DiVINCENZO (VILLANOVA): On a team that features 2 likely All-Americans and future NBA players in Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson, it can be hard to get the recognition one rightfully deserves. Donte DiVencenzo fits perfectly into the category of a player who is capable of having breakout games in the NCAA Tournament. The sophomore shooting guard plays 3rd or even 4th fiddle on a loaded Villanova team. However, the ultra athletic 6’5″ DiVincenzo has the ability to become a household name after the tournament is all said and done. Head Coach Jay Wright loves athletic SG/SF’s and DiVincenzo fits the bill.
After a solid freshman campaign, the Delaware native has improved in all areas of his game. He is averaging 13.8pts, 4.6reb, and 3.4ast. These stats are very good. DiVincenzo would likely be a star and first option on many NCAA tournament teams. However, when you play with 2 of the best players in college basketball, you sometimes don’t get the glory. Don’t be surprised if Donte DiVincenzo blows up during the next few weeks.
P.J. THOMPSON (PURDUE): Purdue (28-6) has had one of the best regular seasons in school history. Head Coach Matt Painter will be in consideration for National Coach of the Year. Painter also has a lot of talent to work with. Carson Edwards, Isaac Haas, Vincent Edwards, and Dakota Mathias are outstanding college basketball players and all have had terrific seasons. However, one player who might be the key for the Boilermakers during the NCAA tournament is P.J. Thompson.
Thompson is only 5’10” but plays bigger than that. He has provided a steady hand in the back-court along with Carson Edwards and Mathias. Thompson (7.1pts, 1.7ast, 1.7reb) doesn’t have huge statistics. However, he plays good defense and is a very good shooter. Due to the talents of the 4 players previously mentioned, he will get open looks during the tournament. Painter should be fine with that. The Indianapolis, Indiana native connects on 44% from 3-point range and 85% from the charity stripe. The Boilermakers finished 2nd in the Big-10 Conference this season. They have played a demanding schedule. Expectations might be the highest they have ever been at the school. The NCAA Tournament always seems to have role players who step up big on the big stage. P.J. Thompson will have an opportunity to be that next player.
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