NCAA Basketball: Projecting 8 biggest breakout stars for 2019-20

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NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – MARCH 15: Andrew Nembhard #2 of the Florida Gators celebrates in the game against the LSU Tigers during the Quarterfinals of the SEC Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)


Andrew Nembhard

Hardcore college basketball fans know who Nembhard is after he averaged 8.0 points and 5.4 assists per game as a freshman, yet the talented 6-5 point guard is set to become a household name.

Despite running an isolation-heavy offense last year (largely due to personnel), Nembhard was still able to provide a playmaking spark for the Gators. He had an assist rate of 32.8 last year, which means that he assisted roughly a third of Florida’s made field goals when he was on the floor. And he wasn’t even a focal point of the offense!

That distinction belonged to guys like KeVaughn Allen and Jalen Hudson, even though it became obvious throughout the course of the season that Nembhard was Florida’s most impactful player. Allen and Hudson both had their eligibility expire, so it’s Nembhard’s turn to run the show.

However, that doesn’t mean it will be all him in the backcourt. Fellow freshman Keyontae Johnson returns and five-star guards Tre Mann and Scottie Lewis enter the fold, but all have complementary skill sets to Nembhard’s do-everything game. Lewis is a phenomenal athlete and defender, Mann is more of a scorer and a shooter, and Johnson plays a power style.

Nembhard does need to improve as a shooter (34.7 percent from three) but he does everything else well. He can finish around the rim with his size, is a reliable rebounder, and can be a very good defender along with his playmaking prowess. The Canadian put all these skills on display during the FIBA World Cup as well.

Florida is going to be much better this year. They will be ranked in the preseason top 10 largely thanks to a quality freshman class and the addition of Virginia Tech grad transfer Kenny Blackshear, but Nembhard will be the key that makes everything go.

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