12 men's college basketball players with breakout potential in 2023-24

UCLA's Dylan Andrews (left) and Arizona's Kylan Boswell (right) both saw limited minutes in last season. This year, they will need to, and very well could, step up to make an impact on their respective teams. Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

A year ago at this time, Jordan Hawkins was coming off a season in which he started just four games and averaged 5.8 points. Bryce Hopkins averaged 2.1 points during a disappointing freshman season at Kentucky before transferring. Olivier-Maxence Prosper was a role player and Kris Murray was in his brother's shadow.

Time is said to be a gift and to use it wisely.

Hawkins finished as a first-round pick and national champion with the UConn Huskies. Hopkins was a unanimous first-team All-Big East selection after averaging 15.8 points for the Providence Friars. Prosper averaged 12.5 points for the Marquette Golden Eagles and ended up as a first-round pick after impressing in pre-draft workouts. Murray followed a similar trajectory to his brother and put up 20.2 points and 7.9 rebounds for the Iowa Hawkeyes before leaving as a first-round pick.

There will again be breakouts this season, whether it's a transfer fitting in better at a new home, a former highly-touted recruit realizing his full potential or simply a freshman making a progression as a sophomore.

For the purposes of this list, we included only second-year players, so Miami Hurricanes guard Wooga Poplar -- who is generating rave reviews and even some NBA hype -- and Arkansas Razorbacks forward Trevon Brazile -- a projected second-round pick -- weren't included. We also didn't include players who started 30-plus games last season, which precludes Dillon Mitchell, Mark Mitchell, Adem Bona and others from making this list, even if they're primed for huge steps forward from a statistical perspective.

Donovan Clingan, UConn Huskies

Clingan has been earmarked for a breakout sophomore season since just about the moment he stepped on campus two summers ago. The 7-foot-2 Bristol, Connecticut, native backed up All-American Adama Sanogo last season, but showed very clear flashes of how good he could be with increased minutes: He averaged 6.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in just 13.1 minutes, with per 40 numbers of 21.1 points, 17.2 rebounds and 5.5 blocks, shooting nearly 66% from the field. Clingan played more than 20 minutes in two games all season and averaged 16.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocks in those two games. He's currently No. 6 in ESPN's 2024 mock draft.

What we're hearing: "There may be better returning low-post scorers in terms of upperclassmen that maybe produce higher points per game, but the thing about Donovan that makes him special is what he does vertically in the ball-screen game, the pressure he puts on the rim that creates 3s and driving lanes. And then his rim protection and running.