Basketball player

Roundtable: Which male basketball player is most prepared for a breakout season?

Howard Bison guard RJ Cole (2) shoots a layup against Georgetown Hoyas forward Marcus Derrickson (24) during the second half at Capital One Arena. Photo by Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports.

With the college basketball season quickly approaching, hype is mounting for the Huskies, who were recently placed at No.24 in the AP preseason Top 25. They are expected to finish second in the Big East Conference only to outscore Villanova, and have two Big East preseason second-team members in RJ Cole and Tyrese Martin. In addition, the team has the ninth best recruiting class in the country. This team is full of talent despite losing NBA lottery pick James Bouknight. Without their old high score option, there’s plenty of room for players to become a celebrity. But which ones will? Our team of editors has his opinion:

Evan Rodriguez

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Campus Correspondent
Player: RJ Cole

Answer: I feel like this is the most popular choice, but I have to go with RJ Cole. Cole, in his freshman year and playing for the first time at the University of Connecticut, was absolutely phenomenal, even with NBA goaltender James Bouknight on the team that pulled shots for him. The point guard scored 12 points, one steal and shot a respectable 38% of 3. Cole has also significantly reduced his turnovers since his time at Howard and looked like a better player overall on the pitch. Cole’s only concern was his shooting percentages, which increased as the season progressed last year. If the senior goaltender can build on that momentum this year, where he will be an important option for the Huskies, he is set to have an exceptional year.

Stratton Stave

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Campus Correspondent
Player: Jalen Gaffney

Connecticut Huskies goalie Jalen Gaffney (0) shoots the ball over Maryland Terrapins forward Donta Scott (24) during the second half of the first round of the 2021 NCAA tournament at Mackey Arena. Photo by Joshua Bickel-USA TODAY Sports.

A player absolutely brimming with potential, Gaffney has a real chance to break through this year. The junior 6-3 made a good jump in efficiency last year, despite a limited role with the massive presence of James Bouknight. He went from 26% to 36% of 3 and increased his score by over 50% from his first year to his second year. If he’s able to assert himself in the rotation as at least a sixth man, he can really score this year with the huge scoring gap to close. With his improved strength, deep ball and opportunities this year, Gaffney should really be placed in a good position to succeed. All he has to do is be a little more assertive when he’s on the pitch and he won’t have a cap.

Jonathan synott

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Associate sports writer
Player: Adama Sanogo

I’m going to go with the obvious answer and pick Sanogo, already listed as a Big East Preseason Honorable Mention player this year. While Bouknight lost much of last year’s conference game, Sanogo has become a key option for the Huskies after scoring double-digit points in seven different competitions, including four of the last five games of the team. Shooting efficiency has been a key part of his success last year, scoring a fifth best in the Big East’s 0.554 field goal percentage. Sanogo’s skills further progressed as the season progressed, earning a spot on the Big East All-Tournament squad as well as the Big East All-Freshman squad. Already a borderline star, Sanogo is set to be an elite scorer for this UConn attack. There is a void left by Bouknight, and who better to fill it than last season’s most successful freshman?

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