Nation's most improved players

Marcus Paige is averaging 16.9 points and 4.6 assists per game for the 20-7 Tar Heels. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Each season there are stars returning to the college game, while an influx of freshmen enter to hype up and change the landscape of a new campaign.

Sometimes forgotten are the players who develop over time from one season to the next, taking gradual steps of improvement.

Scholarships are earned and rosters are filled, but what separates one player form another? Former Murray State standout and current NBA player Isaiah Cannon told me at the Chris Paul camp that "training for next season begins when this season is over."

Dedication in the offseason to invest in one's game, as well as hitting the weight room, allows players to be able to compete through contact as well as a long season of bumps and falls.

Below are five players who have made significant improvement since last season and are a big reason their teams are playing well in 2013-14.

1. Marcus Paige | PG | North Carolina Tar Heels

In the fall of Paige's freshman year, North Carolina coach Roy Williams told me at ACC media day that "Marcus will be special in time here."