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MAC Basketball Breakout Players for the 2014-2015 Season

Who will be this year's Jehvon Clarke or Spencer Parker? Let's look at the candidates.

Franko House will benefit from Ball State's personnel losses
Franko House will benefit from Ball State's personnel losses
Mike McGinnis

There are many different ways you could classify a potential "breakout" player. Would someone primed to break out be a player who is already established but is expected to take his game to the next level? Or would it be a player who hasn't done much in their career yet but are primed to take the next step with a bigger role on their respective team?

Looking back to last year, the prototypical "breakout" player was Spencer Parker of Bowling Green. Parker averaged just six minutes and one and a half points per game in the 2012-2013 season. Compare that to last season, where Parker was seventeenth in the conference in scoring at 12.5 points per game. That's a huge jump over just one year. His teammate Jehvon Clarke had the same experience, increasing his average almost nine points per game.

There is a big reason why both Parker and Clarke improved so greatly: playing time. Parker was behind A'uston Calhoun in the BG lineup and Clarke only got minutes when Jordon Crawford took a breather. Now that they both start, they will continue to put up big numbers.

With that in mind, let's take a look at this year's candidates for "breakout" player:

Antonio Campbell, Ohio Forward

Antonio Campbell, or "Big Tone" as he is otherwise known by, could be the key to Ohio's season. The backcourt is solid with Bean Willis and Stevie Taylor running the show. The frontcourt, however, is a question mark outside of Maurice Ndour.

Campbell, a six-foot-eight sophomore from Cincinnati, saved his best games of the season for last. He averaged a little over nine points per game in the last nine games of the season, including a monster 21-point performance in the first round of a CIT win over Cleveland State. With a year under his belt and the graduation of starting center Jon Smith he'll get plenty of opportunities to prove that he can be one of the best big men in the conference.

Franko House, Ball State Guard

When looking at personnel losses, Ball State's are pretty astounding. The Cardinals lose starters Jesse Berry, Chris Bond and Majok Majok who made up almost 50% of the team's scoring last year. That is bad news for a Ball State team that won just five games last year, but great news for players looking for their time to shine.

Franko House may be known more for hitting this completely ridiculous full court buzzer beater in high school but he'll be able to make people quickly forget that if he's able to step up this year. House, who owns the MAC's best hairstyle, averaged six points per game last year while starting in twenty-one games. He's the second best returning player on the team after Zavier Turner and is in line for some major minutes. During last season he showed many glimpses of greatness including a phenomenal 19-point, 9-rebound performance against Northern Illinois. He'll have all the opportunity in the world to make an impact this year and should take advantage of it.

Isaiah Johnson, Akron Center

The Big Dog is no Zeke Marshall, that's for sure. While Marshall had more of a finesse game around the basket, Johnson just wants to get to the rim and use his large six-foot-ten, 290 pound body to punish defenders. With calves as big as a normal person's thighs, Johnson is strong around the basket and has a high basketball IQ.

Though Johnson averaged just four points and three rebounds last year, he is in line for a much better year this year after taking away more of usual starter Pat Forsythe's playing time. Johnson is a huge matchup problem on both sides of the floor as not many in the conference can go toe-to-toe with his size. Look for him to double both his scoring and rebounding numbers this year and become a key cog in Akron's quest to get back to the MAC Championship game.

Kellen McCormick, Western Michigan Center

It's tough replacing a player who played regularly for five years at the same school. It's even tougher when that player was All-MAC First Teamer and face of the program Shayne Whittington.

That's the task that falls to Kellen McCormick, a six-foot-eight sophomore. When Whittington didn't play - which wasn't often - McCormick played well and was a solid backup. Whittington was suspended the first two games of the year last year for some odd NCAA ruling and McCormick stepped up, scoring fourteen in both games against decent competition.

Now McCormick won't be the only one competing for Whittington's starting spot in the lineup. Mario Matasovic and freshman Drake LaMont could also fill that spot and it'll be a fierce battle during preseason practice to figure out who gets the starting nod. McCormick should have the inside track to the job, though, and will have plenty of opportunities to contribute for what should be the conference favorites.

Joshua Oswald, Miami Forward

Time for some international flavor! Oswald, a native of Australia, enjoyed a solid freshman season which saw him put up nearly five points and three rebounds per game. With the graduation of Will Felder, Oswald is the next man up and should get consistent starts at the power forward position.

Oswald played a good deal of minutes during the latter portion of the non-conference schedule last year but his playing time sort of trailed off during conference play. After taking a year to adjust to a new country and a new style of basketball, Oswald should be able to put up some decent numbers for a rapidly improving RedHawks squad.

Treg Setty, Ohio Guard/Forward

The other Bobcat on this list is a transfer from Southern Illinois. Like Campbell, Setty also had a strong end to the year last season. While only averaging three points per game over the entire course of the year, Setty averaged nearly six over the last eleven games. His breakout performance was also against Cleveland State where he put up thirteen points.

Setty stands at six-foot-eight like Campbell, but his game is totally opposite of what Campbell likes to do. While Campbell would rather be inside, Setty likes staying out of the paint. He will only see his minutes increase after Ricardo Johnson's graduation.

This list isn't comprehensive, and of course these guys could all flop and have terrible seasons. But to get playing time at this level they have to be pretty talented and should be able to take advantage of what is in front of them. Next year we could be talking about these guys as potential all-MAC performers.