2012-2013 College Basketball's Stars
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor
College basketball will feature some familiar faces on the court next season, but there are a handful of players waiting to emerge as superstars.
The following is a list of players across the country that are on the verge of becoming household names.
MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS (Syracuse) - Some All-American high school players are able to transition to the next level without a hiccup and instantly become stars on the collegiate level. Others, like Carter-Williams, have to work and wait for their spot in the limelight. Carter-Williams only averaged 10.3 minutes and 2.7 points per game during his freshman campaign last year, but it is hard to question Jim Boeheim for not playing his prized recruit as his team finished 34-3. Carter-Williams planned to develop into a point guard with the Orange and should be given the chance to run the offense with Scoop Jardine and Dion Waiters gone. Despite his thin 6-foot-5 frame, Carter-Williams is fearless and his aggressive play makes exciting to watch.
ADONIS THOMAS (Memphis) - The Tigers are a very deep and talented roster, but it was still a one-man show last season with Will Barton as the clear go-to- guy. Barton finished last season with averages of 18.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Thomas was expected to have a much larger impact as a freshman, but managed only 8.8 points and 3.2 rebounds off the bench before an injury devastated his season. However, Barton's departure for the NBA leaves a lot to be replaced for the Tigers. Thomas was considered one of the top 10 players in the nation out of high school not too long ago. This could be Thomas' final season at the collegiate level if he thrives as Memphis' new leader.
JAMES MICHAEL MCADOO (North Carolina) - Chapel Hill has produced more than its fair share of superstars. The Tar Heels lost Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller to the NBA, which will give McAdoo the chance to start in UNC's front court next season. Very few have ever doubted his talent, as he showed the ability to finish around the basket by taking advantage of positioning and angles. McAdoo saw limited action and was hardly ever the first option offensively as a freshman. He might be the Tar Heels best option offensively next season which should cause his statistics, draft stock, and popularity to sky rocket.
WAYNE BLACKSHEAR (Louisville) - Fans thought Blackshear might have been the answer right away for the Cardinals when he scored 13 points in 20 minutes in his NCAA debut on Feb. 11 versus West Virginia. The Chicago native missed the first 24 games of 2011-2012 with a right shoulder injury. The talented guard was unable to duplicate his performance as injuries consistently limited his abilities. He did managed to score 9 points and throw down a pair of dunks versus Kentucky in the Final Four, though. If Blackshear can stay healthy, he will replace Kyle Kuric as the face of the program.
KYLE WILTJER (Kentucky) - The Wildcats lost six players to the NBA Draft this offseason, but John Calipari managed to bring in enough talent to contend once again. Wiltjer could have been a superstar at a different program last season, but instead backed up and practiced against NBA bound talent during UK's title run. The 6-foot-9 power forward should have a much bigger impact as a sophomore. He was primarily a spot up shooter as a freshman, but he will be one of the top offensive players on the Wildcats' roster next season. Wiltjer should still get plenty of open looks with NC State transfer Ryan Harrow and an array of blue chip recruits joining the team. Wiltjer's high basketball IQ and polished skill set should be enough to make him a fixture in one of the top program's in the nation.
JOSH SMITH (UCLA) - Last year was a season most Bruins' fans would like to forget. However, there is a lot of hype around Ben Howland's squad next season thanks to a loaded recruiting class that features the top rated shooting guard and small forward of the incoming freshmen. The Wear brothers and Smith should benefit from the bolstered backcourt. Smith has shown enough skill and potential to be considered by NBA teams, but his conditioning has always been an issue. The UCLA big man has been really pushing himself in the off-season to maximize the time he can spend on the floor as the Bruins push for a return to March Madness. Howland also recruited big man Tony Parker, which gives Smith even more incentive to reach the top of his game.
BRANDEN DAWSON (Michigan State) - The Spartans earned a share of the Big Ten regular season title and won the conference tournament last season behind the leadership of Big Ten Player of the Year Draymond Green. The Spartans are expected to be competitive once again next season as Keith Appling is handed the reins. However, do not be shocked to see Dawson emerge as a superstar. The sophomore swingman showed he can be very efficient on the offensive end during his freshman season before an injury ended his rookie year in March. Dawson has tremendous athleticism, but his perimeter skills need to be improved even further before he takes the next step.
IAN MILLER (Florida State) - FSU is quietly becoming a basketball school under Leonard Hamilton. The Seminoles will be in good position to make their fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012-2013 with Michael Snaer and Ian Miller back in the fold. Snaer did not fly under the radar at all last year as he hit multiple buzzer beating shots to propel FSU to comeback victories over Duke and Virginia Tech. Miller followed in his teammate's footsteps later in the season by knocking down a game-winner to defeat Virginia in Charlottesville. Miller brings a high level of intensity each time he takes the floor. Although he made his mark offensively by being the second leading scorer for FSU, his defensive intensity is what makes him one of the most valuable players most people have not heard of... yet.
RYAN EVANS (Wisconsin) - The Badgers will turn to their senior small forward in the first season of the post Jordan Taylor era. Evans averaged 11.0 points per game in 2011-2012 after spending his first two years on campus as a reserve. He scored in double figures in 14 straight games before being limited to just seven by Syracuse in the Sweet 16. Evans was cut from his high school team as a sophomore before working his way to all-state honors as a senior. His work ethic alone should help him find a spot on an All-Big Ten team.
JAYVAUGHN PINKSTON (Villanova) - The Wildcats ended a 13-year streak of postseason participation last season, finishing just 13-19. Pinkston is going to help Villanova get back on track. Despite his success at the program, Jay Wright has not had a player with the combination of size and slashing ability that Pinkston possesses in 11 years. In his first season, he eclipsed the 20- point mark on three occasions and finished with an average just under 10 ppg. The Wildcats lost Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek to the professional ranks over the offseason, which makes Pinkston the second leading scorer among returners.
HONORABLE MENTION - Jeff Withey (Kansas), Dezmine Wells (Xavier), Myck Kabongo (Texas), C.J. Aiken (Saint Joseph's), Khem Birch (UNLV), Sam Dower (Gonzaga), Otto Porter (Georgetown), Alex Len (Maryland), Ryan Harrow (Kentucky), Anthony Collins (USF).