Busting Brackets

Big Ten Basketball: 5 early breakout candidates for 2024-25 season

Iowa v Wisconsin
Iowa v Wisconsin / John Fisher/GettyImages
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Xavier Booker, Michigan State

It's no secret earning playing time as a true freshman under Tom Izzo is a difficult task, so it should come as no surprise that Xavier Booker struggled to carve out a role during his first season in East Lansing. However, the former McDonald's All-American is another player who saw those above him in the rotation and depth chart move on, the exact opportunity he needs for a breakout sophomore season.

Malik Hall graduated, and Mady Sissoko transferred to California, meaning that the Spartans will be without two long-time frontcourt contributors in 2024-25. One would assume Booker will get the chance to slide right into the starting lineup alongside Jaxon Kohler, with Booker likely to run at the four and Kohler at the five.

It will be a jump for Booker if he does indeed move into the Spartan starting lineup after averaging just over nine minutes per game as a freshman, but even in that limited playing time, there were flashes of brilliance. At 6'11" with a 7'5" wingspan, Booker is a giant on the block, but he combines that size with a nice offensive game, and there's hope he could develop into a stretch four over time.

Of course, there will likely be growing pains as Booker adjusts to a new role, and last year you saw the type of freshman mistakes that should come as no surprise from a first-year player in Izzo's system. But, this is another second-year player who will benefit greatly from another full offseason in the program and with his talent, the sky is the limit.