Kansas forward Thomas Robinson went from bench player in 2010-11 to All-American (and likely top-five NBA draft pick) in 2011-12, in the process helping lead the Jayhawks to the national title game.
In 2010-11, Connecticut guard Kemba Walker led the Huskies to the national title a season after being a complementary player.
So who makes the big jump next season? Who goes from being their team's second or third (or fourth) scoring option to all-conference (and maybe even All-America) performer?
Here are eight potential breakout players in the frontcourt; Tuesday, we'll spotlight eight guards capable of a breakout season.
The players are listed alphabetically.
Memphis F/C Tarik Black
Particulars: 6-8/243, Jr.
2011-12 stats: 10.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 59.4 FG%, 1.5 bpg
Buzz: Black, a former four-star recruit, has been solid in his first two seasons with the Tigers, but look for him to up his production considerably next season. He should become the Tigers' key player with the early departure of swingman Will Barton to the NBA. Black is an effective low-post scorer who must get a lot better on the boards; there is no reason a guy with his physical attributes can't average at least eight rebounds per game. With Barton gone, Black should look at 2012-13 as a sort of "salary-drive" season: Big numbers will lead to big NBA dollars.
Wisconsin F/G Ryan Evans
Particulars: 6-6/210, Sr.
2011-12 stats: 11.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg
Buzz: Evans, who will be a graduate student starting in the fall, is a grinder who does a lot of the little things. He made huge strides from his sophomore season, increasing his scoring average by 8.2 points as a junior. With the graduation of leading scorer Jordan Taylor, look for Evans to become the Badgers' go-to guy next season. Evans has a nice mid-range game and is a fierce competitor on the boards.
Syracuse F C.J. Fair
Particulars: 6-8/203, Jr.
2011-12 stats: 8.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.1 spg
Buzz: Fair could stand to gain some weight and add some bulk, but he still is primed to go from key sub to star player. Fair is a heady guy with a high basketball IQ. He was the Orange's second-leading rebounder this past season because he understands positioning. He is a solid offensive player from about 15 feet in and does a nice job getting to the line; he shot the third-most free throws on his team. Syracuse lost three of its top four scorers, and Fair seems a lock to be Syracuse's highest-scoring frontcourt player.
[Marc J. Spears: Perry Jones III's draft stock hinges on proving his consistency]
North Carolina F James Michael McAdoo
Particulars: 6-9/220, Soph.
2011-12 stats: 6.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg
Buzz: McAdoo was a five-star recruit out of high school and the No. 8 player nationally, but he had to wait his turn in a loaded UNC frontcourt. All three starting frontcourt players are gone now, and McAdoo toyed with the idea of going pro before deciding to remain in school. Smart move. He should be the Heels' go-to scorer next season. He is sneaky quick defensively and should be among the Heels' leaders in steals, too. (His dad, Ronnie, is the second cousin of former UNC All-America F Bob McAdoo. Bob currently is an assistant with the Miami Heat.)
Georgetown F Otto Porter
Particulars: 6-8/205, Soph.
2011-12 stats: 9.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.1 bpg, 52.5 FG%
Buzz: Porter was a key player for the Hoyas this past season, but he should be the key guy next season. Porter led the Hoyas in rebounding and will be their top returning scorer (the top three are gone). It wouldn't be a surprise to see him flirt with averaging a double-double. He is athletic, and despite his lack of bulk, he is stronger than he looks. At the same time, you'd think adding 10-15 pounds would make Porter that much more effective in the low post, especially in the physical Big East.
Iowa F Aaron White
Particulars: 6-8/225, Soph.
2011-12 stats: 11.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 50.9 FG%
Buzz: White made a bigger impact than expected as a freshman. He is athletic and works hard, especially on the boards. He has a nice offensive game (he has 3-point ability, but he didn't show it as a freshman) and has a good shot at leading the Hawkeyes in scoring next season. At the least, he and junior G Roy Devyn Marble should be a nice 1-2 punch. And if junior F Melsahn Besabe can rediscover his freshman form, the Hawkeyes will have a well-rounded offensive trio.
Kansas C Jeff Withey
Particulars: 7-0/235, Sr. 2011-12 stats: 8.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 3.5 bpg, 54.0 FG%,
Buzz: He will be one of the few true centers nationally next season. Withey went from bench-warmer in 2010-11 (26 games, but just 6.2 minutes per contest) to key complementary player this past season. He should become one of KU's top players next season. He's not necessarily gifted offensively, but he should be able to average in the low teens, especially considering F Thomas Robinson has left for the NBA. Withey's rebounding total should increase, too. His defensive presence is the key, though. He will be one of the nation's best shot-blockers.
Florida C Patric Young
Particulars: 6-9/247, Jr.
2011-12 stats: 10.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 61.8 FG%
Buzz: Young, a former five-star recruit, is supremely athletic and can run all day. But his production never has matched the hype – at least not yet. His production on both ends is going to have to increase next season because the Gators lost starting Gs Bradley Beal (who was the team's leading rebounder) and Erving Walker. Young doesn't have a signature offensive move, instead scoring mostly on putbacks and dunks. But he still should have a bigger role in the offense next season; his athleticism makes him a handful for opposing big men and he should get more scoring opportunities in the low post. His rebounding total needs to increase by two per game, and he has the needed tools to make it happen.
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