Every year, we see it. A player who bursts onto the scene after playing a nominal role on his squad the previous year, becoming a household name in the process?
How does it happen? Sometimes, like in the case of Sean Birk of El Camino a few years back, the player is behind a very talented player (Devin Watson) and must wait their turn. In other cases, the player's role might have been expanded by a coaching change.
Full-Time Hoops has your list of the safest bets of players to break out during 2016-2017.
Damien Miller, 2018 PG Orange Glen
Previous season: 7.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 3.9 apg
The breakdown: Very quietly, Miller emerged halfway through the season as a very valuable piece to the Patriots' success in the wake of a season-ending injury to Devin Diaz, serving as a solid playmaker and a stout defender and big-time rebounder for a 5-8 guard. Over the summer, however, Miller gained a ton of confidence as the heart and soul of a solid Coastal Elite 16u team, and that confidence carried over into the fall, where at times he looked like the best player on the floor for the Patriots. Expect all of his numbers to move higher, setting up for a huge senior campaign in 2018.
Isaiah Morris, 2018 PG, Vista
Previous season: 9 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4 apg and 2.6 spg.
The breakdown: Morris has often over the course of his career played a backseat to his back court mate, Taurus Samuels, but Morris has game in his own right. One of the top on-ball defenders in North County, Morris often had the task of guarding the top opposing guard. But in the fall, Morris showed a consistency on the offensive end that hadn't been present during his first year on the varsity level, and his confidence level has never been higher. Expect Morris to emerge as the Panthers' No. 2 scoring threat behind Samuels.
Jordan Van Ommering, 2017 SG, Foothills Christian
Previous season: 5 ppg, 2.6 rpg
The breakdown: Van Ommering was solid in the role of 7th man for the county's No. 1 team last year, and was good for the occasional three. This year, however, the 6-4 sharpshooter is in the starting lineup and playing with a tremendous amount of confidence. This started, however, during the summer, when he played a starring role for the California Bearcats, and emerged as team's most versatile offensive player. Now, paired with the perfect player to unlock his shooting ability - UCLA commit Jaylen Hands - expect Van Ommering to more than double his scoring output and help keep the Knights at the top of the SD rankings.
Kody Clouet, 2018 SG, San Marcos
Previous season: 7.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg
The breakdown: Klouet, known throughout his career as a sharp shooter from deep, started as a sophomore for the Knights, but was the fourth wheel on offense behind Johnny McWilliams, Jason Simmrin and Josh Ramirez. The trio has graduated, and Clouet is the leading returning scorer, so his production level is expected to rise. That being said, Clouet showed some leadership intangibles and improvement in his ability to score off the dribble that show he's evolving into something other than a spot-up shooter. Expect Clouet to at least double his scoring output for the re-tooled Knights team.
Jordan Cooke-Harper, 2018 PF, Poway
Previous season: N/A
The breakdown: It has been an interesting road for Cooke Harper, the son of former NBA star Ron Harper. Playing varsity as a sophomore, he didn't have the impact that some would have expected on a surprise Titans team. Then, over the summer, he grew three inches and returned to San Diego with renewed confidence after playing with his brother's club team in New Jersey, Ring City Elite. Possessing soft hands, nice touch out to 15 feet and a renewed sense of urgency on the boards, Cooke Harper could pair with junior star Zach Reiter to be one of the more unheralded inside-out duos in not only the county, but Southern California.
Deondre McHayle, 2018 G, Monte Vista-
Previous season: 12 ppg, 6 rpg
The breakdown: McHayle was a key cog in the Monarchs league co-champion team in 2016. Now, he returns, but the other four starters have graduated. McHayle, a stocky guard with a penchant for scoring in the lane and playing solid on-ball defense and playing tough on the glass, will likely be one of the leading scorers in the county, as the Monarchs will need his scoring to stay competitive in games this year.
Emmanuel Azor, 2017 G/F Kearny
Previous season: N/A
The breakdown: An afterthought on last year's senior-laden team, Azor comes into the year a much improved player for the Komets. He is a tough rebounder and defender, and the type of glue guy that helps a team win by doing the little things. He will likely be the third-best player on the Komets behind star forward Robby Robinson and shooter Joseph Davis.
Carl Echon, 2017 G, Mira Mesa
Previous season: 6.1 ppg, 3.6 apg
The breakdown: Another player who played a complimentary role on a senior laden team, Echon is already proving to be one of the breakout stars in the early going, scoring over 20 points in each of his first three games.
Matt Stevenson, 2018 F, Santa Fe Christian
Previous season: DNP (shoulder)
The breakdown: The Eagles missed Stevenson, a tough multifaceted wing, last season as they stumbled to an 11-19 record before stunning 6th seed LCC in the Division 1 playoffs. Now, Stevenson has returned, and will be a big reason for the expected turnaround in Solana Beach. He gives the Eagles size on the wing and at the four spot, and does a little bit of everything on the offensive end.
Cade Kinney-Shackelford (2017 SG), Ethan Esposito (2017 WF) and Hayden Helfrich (2017 PG), Torrey Pines
Previous season: Combined 8 ppg
The breakdown: It is almost an annual tradition at Torrey Pines to see players who played sparingly or in complimentary roles during their junior seasons emerge during their senior year. This year, the senior trio of Shackleford, Esposito and Helfrich are those guys. Shackleford is a bigger guard who can impact the game on both ends of the floor. Helfrich is a feisty undersized guard who has a deadly pull-up jumpshot, and Esposito is an athletic combo forward who is starting to emerge as a late-bloomer prospect. Each will have their pick of schools to choose from by season's end.
Robert Young, 2018 PG, Morse
Previous season: 14.5 ppg, 3 apg
The breakdown: Young returned from a knee injury that threatened to sideline him as a sophomore to have a solid second campaign for the Tigers. With Justin Davis off to CSU Bakersfield, expect Young to explode as a junior and become a bona fide Division 1 prospect. Explosive athlete who can defend and score off the dribble.
Cameron Barry, 2018 PG, West Hills
Previous season: 8.6 ppg, 2.3 apg, 1.6 spg
The breakdown: Barry, the son of former Santana great and current West Hills assistant coach Tim Barry, had a solid sophomore year, but shared the point guard duties with senior Marco Ovies. The team is Barry's now, and after a solid summer with Coastal Elite 16u, Barry looks more confident and is scoring the ball prolifically in the early going. He's a very crafty guard who doesn't need a ton of room to get his shot off.
Jacob Moskowitz, 2017 F, Escondido
Previous season: N/A
Moskowitz played a decent role for the Cougars last year, mostly as a defensive stopper and a motor guy for a deep team. With four starters graduating and a fifth transferring, Moskowitz inherits the role as "the man" for a team that doesn't have lofty expectations, but his 23-point effort against Castle Park shows that he will hold up his end of the bargain. A noted baseball prospect, Moskowitz could be an intriguing junior college basketball prospect at 6-foot-6 and budding wing skills.