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College Hoops Breakout Players for 2012

Patric Young, PF/C, Florida

Young started for USA's U19 team this past month, gaining valuable experience against gritty international big men who look more like Bond villains than basketball players.

Physically, without getting technical, it's safe to say the dude is jacked. At 6'9 with superior strength and elite athleticism, Young treats his defenders to complimentary crotch-viewings while he soars over his helpless victims. Despite being somewhat undersized for his natural position, Young's constant motor and high activity level contribute to his excellent rebounding rate and frequent 4th row deep swats around the rim.

Florida lost three big men in Vernon Macklin, Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus, so Young should see a substantial boost in minutes as a sophomore (17 min/game as a freshman). Still overly raw on the offensive end, his role at the next level won't necessarily require him to create with the ball in his hands. Thanks to his NBA body and physical tools, Young projects well as an interior defender, and remains an extremely attractive prospect for teams lacking athleticism up front.

Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas

A highly-touted recruit out of high school, Robinson has struggled to earn consistent minutes in his first two years at Kansas. That pattern is about to change, as Robinson won't have to compete with multiple Morrisi for playing time in his junior year.

For a guy who's fairly limited in terms of creating offensively, Robinson remains extremely productive when given floor time. He's a big-time athlete with explosive leaping ability, which he puts to use in transition, on the glass and defensively.

If he can put together 7.6 points and 6.4 rebounds in just 14 minutes per game, then nightly double-doubles should be an achievable feat assuming his minutes increase.

Jeremy Lamb, SG, UConn

I'm not breaking any news here by throwing Lamb onto this list, but his role-change from freshman to sophomore year will be a dramatic one. Lamb will be taking over the reigns as Connecticut's go-to guy despite having arms and legs that resemble my mother's fettuccine.

Coming off an outstanding March, Lamb announced himself second in command after defenses began overcompensating on Kemba. His length reeks havoc in passing lanes, leading to turnovers resulting in fast break opportunities. Lamb has really refined his pullup game off the dribble, which is a weapon that often propels players to the next level. His 7'0 wingspan for a 6'5 guard compares only with Marshon Brooks in recent years (off top of my head), whose length allows him to shoot over defenders of all sizes.

It's clear that Lamb needs to add a good 20 pounds to his delicate frame, however at just 19 years old he has time on his side. He scored 35 points and pulled up for the game-winner in overtime against Latvia just a few weeks ago, illustrating his "more than just complimentary" skill set. Look for Lamb to increase his field goal attempts (only 9 per game last year), and become more aggressive with the ball in his hands.

Terrence Ross, SG/SF, Washington

Word out of Chicago was that Ross and Harrison Barnes stood out most at Kevin Durant's Skills Academy. Ross is dangerous from outside, where he sports a clean release and sweet rhythm in catch and shoot opportunities. A smooth wing with NBA athleticism, Ross does an excellent job at stretching the floor by recognizing and occupying open space. He moves well without the ball and shows deceptive quickness with it, allowing him to get to the rim despite a shaky handle. Moving forward, Ross should get more reps without Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning in the lineup, which should give him more opportunities to expand and polish his offensive game.

Ross has shown glimpses of first round talent, and will have the opportunity as a sophomore to transform these flashes into lengthy stretches of high-level play.

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