Commentary

Dick Vitale's All-Improved team

Updated: January 18, 2010, 2:27 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

When you look at a lot of players who have worked hard to become better, you see a group that may not have received many minutes a season ago.

There are a number of players who improve thanks to their work ethic and dedication. It is so important to want to get better, to earn more PT (playing time). These guys are more productive now, making a difference for their respective clubs.

Last season, Marquette's Jimmy Butler averaged under 20 minutes and six points per contest. Now, he is a difference-maker for Buzz Williams, playing over 30 minutes per contest. He is Marquette's second-leading scorer, averaging over 15 ppg while pulling in six-plus boards per outing.

Connecticut's Gavin Edwards doesn't always receive the publicity he deserves. Coach Jim Calhoun calls on him to contribute off the bench, but he has developed into an inside factor and has posted some impressive stats.

Tim Abromatis has become an important member of Notre Dame's rotation. After sitting last season and averaging 3.3 minutes as a freshman, he is a factor for the Irish as the team's second-leading scorer, averaging around 15 points.

Missouri's Kim English went from less than seven points a game last season to become Mike Anderson's top scorer at over 15 ppg.

At Clemson, Tanner Smith has turned into an important player for Oliver Purnell. He averaged less than four points last season, and now he is scoring in double figures!

John Shurna of Northwestern received an opportunity when Kevin Coble went down with an injury. Shurna has been one of the top players in the Big Ten this season. He is averaging 10 more points per game than he did last season.

These guys have seen their hard work and effort pay off, baby!

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.