Commentary

The year of the sophomore

Big jumps in productivity await Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones, other second-year stars

Updated: April 29, 2011, 10:47 AM ET
By John Gasaway | Basketball Prospectus
Jared Sullinger and Perry JonesGetty ImagesJared Sullinger and Perry Jones should have stellar sophomore campaigns.

In college basketball, it's long been generally assumed that players experience a big jump in effectiveness between their freshman and sophomore seasons. Only recently, however, have analysts been able to test that assumption, thanks in large part (if not entirely) to the years of individual player data compiled by Ken Pomeroy.

It turns out the assumption is, for the most part, correct. Simply put, players tend to improve the longer they stick around. Seniors, as a group, have better stats than juniors, who have better numbers than sophomores, who are numerically superior to freshmen. That being said, the biggest jump in performance, on average, does indeed come between the freshman and sophomore years.

That is a scary thought if your team is scheduled to play the Ohio State Buckeyes and Jared Sullinger next season. I don't know about you, but I thought Sullinger looked pretty good as a mere freshman. And Sullinger is not the only player set up for a special sophomore season. Last week I looked at North Carolina Tar Heels star Harrison Barnes at some length. This week I want to highlight other sophomores-to-be. Who will benefit most from the well-documented freshman-to-sophomore "jump"? In many cases, it's players who were already good to begin with.


To read John Gasaway's projections for next season's star sophomores, become an ESPN Insider today.