Sophomore Showcase: Five Second Year Players Breakout Candidates


Sophomore Showcase: Five Second Year Players Breakout Candidates


Sophomore Showcase: Five Second Year Players Breakout Candidates


Isaiah Jackson, Indiana Pacers

With Tyrese Haliburton running the show in Indiana, it’s time to find the guys that are going to be able to fit next to him. The 22nd overall pick in the 2021 draft, Isaiah Jackson, looks to be someone who would pair exceptionally well with him. Jackson is the second former Kentucky Wildcat to join this list, and he has sky-high upside that could be showcased as soon as next season.

The first thing that stands out with Jackson is his athleticism. He’s one of the bounciest and most explosive athletes at his size ever. His rim-running and play-finishing potential is off the charts. With improvements to his screening technique, he can be a devastating PNR roller with Haliburton as the orchestrator. But it’s the subtle skill flashes of shooting and handling at his size that hint at a higher ceiling.

With the athleticism and raw talent, there’s a lot of fluidity and smooth movement to his game. It truly makes him a unique athlete and it’s what gives him a tremendous ceiling. If the skill flashes become more consistent on a night to night basis, we’re talking about a potential All-Star. His offense has a chance to be high level, but it’s his defense that intrigues me most.

Using his quick twitch athleticism and long arms, Jackson is an incredible shot-blocker. His rim protection traits are so special and when you combine that with his movement skills laterally and his ability to guard a variety of PNR coverages make him a very intriguing defensive prospect. With Haliburton throwing him lobs and his ability to protect the rim, he’s going to be an impactful two-way presence on a tanking team where he’s going to have plenty of opportunities to take a sizable leap.


Bones Hyland, Denver Nuggets

Watch this clip of Bones Hyland:

This is a future high-level shot creator. The space creation and handle along with his wiggle to create separation is truly special. The best part about Hyland is that he doesn’t need major skill or physical development heading into his second year. He simply needs more minutes to improve his counting stats. He may have a chance to take home Most Improved Player and 6th Man Of The Year if he gets the minutes for it.

Hyland is an elite shooter. Shot versatility, range, volume, confidence, he has it all. He’s going to become one of the best shooters in the league very soon. He has all the indicators to suggest that he can be a premier pull-up shooter out of the PNR. He also displays flashes of clean stepback footwork from almost thirty feet out.

He also has potential as an advantage creator. He’s a bursty athlete with a wiry frame to sneak past defenders to get to the rim. His handle is quick and shifty and he can burn defenders in isolation. But his threat as a pull-up shooter makes him so unpredictable. Defenders can’t relax from the minute he touches the end of the logo, but they can’t play up too far because then he’ll blow right past them. When he gets two feet in the paint, he’s a good inside-out passer who has impressive interior reads. The offensive potential is sky-high for him.

If I had to pick one player to make a Desmond Bane-esque second year leap, it would be “Bizzy Bones” Hyland. He won’t have the same opportunity as Bane did, but he’s much more gifted as a ball-handler and rim pressurer. He can have a similar type of year where he goes from a quality reserve piece to a high-level, fringe All-Star piece. Don’t be shocked if he’s competing for not one, but two awards by the end of the season.


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