CBT Exam Week Essays: Will a Division I player ever score 100 points in a game?

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For college students and college basketball fans, Exam Week is the worst week on the schedule. For students, this week is the culmination of three months worth of procrastination, cliff notes and Wikipedia. For college basketball fans, it’s the lightest week of hoops action we will see all season.

With so very little going on this week in terms of action, the staff at College Basketball Talk is going back to school. Over the next five days, the CBT Staff will be responsible for answering an essay question in one of five different subjects.

Monday:Sociology
Tuesday: Psychology.
Wednesday: Statistics

Thursday’s exam covers physical education. But be warned, this isn’t your typical “Swim four lengths of the pool in order to get a passing grade” P.E. exam. No, this may end up being the most difficult exam of the week.

Jack Taylor, the Grinnell College sophomore, scored an NCAA-record 138 points in a game earlier this season. It was a result of the rapid and concentrated scoring style that Grinnell implements in every game. Do you believe that Division I will ever see another 100-point game in the modern era? Keep in mind Frank Selvy of Furman scored 100 in a game in 1954. Please specify potential players coaches and scenarios.

By Raphielle Johnson

If a Division I player is to ever score 100 or more points in a game it would have to be a “perfect storm” of sorts, with a number of factors needing to break in that player’s favor. The first thought was to take a look at some of the names that come up when discussing some of the game’s best “gunners.” Three players of note are Butler’s Rotnei Clarke, Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson and Louisville’s Russ Smith.

All three players average at least 17.1 points per game and have possession percentages of 25% or higher (meaning that the player accounted for at least one-quarter of his team’s total possessions), with Smith leading the way in both categories (20.3 ppg, 32.6% possession). A look at what Jack Taylor did in his 138-point outing reveals a percentage of 82.2%. For any player to have a shot at scoring 100 points it’s not about getting hot so much as it is having a coach and teammates committed to getting them the majority (if not all) of the shots. Taylor attempted 108 of Grinnell’s 136 shots and ten of their 16 free throws.

Looking at the top five scorers in the country all have possession percentages of at least 28%, with Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum (24.9 ppg) leading the way with a percentage of 33.6%. In order of their possession percentage the remainder of the top five shakes out like this: Creighton’s Doug McDermott (32.3%; 22.7 ppg), San Jose State’s James Kinney (30.3; 22.6), Central Connecticut State’s Kyle Vinales (29.4; 23.5) and Virginia Tech’s Erick Green (28.3; 24.4). But like the three gunners above, these five would need a lot of help from their coaches and teammates to achieve the opportunities needed to reach triple digits.

Those opportunities wouldn’t come solely by way of getting fed the ball on every possession either, as a ridiculously fast pace would be needed over the 40 minutes. Grinnell ran up 126 possessions in that exhibition game (125.6 to be exact, but you can’t play 0.6 of a possession), a number that’s business as usual for their program. The five teams that average the most possessions per game in college basketball today: VMI (80.7 possessions/game), Northwestern State (78.7), UTSA (77.8), Seattle (77.2) and Longwood (76.9). Of the eight scorers mentioned above Henderson’s team averages the most possessions per game, with Ole Miss ranking 21st nationally at 74.9.

To get a player to the 100-point mark would take a great deal of preparation in the preseason to get guys in the physical condition needed to play at an insanely high pace, as defensively the team would have to press all 94 feet. But in the end this is a gimmick, along the lines of Jimmy Patsos throwing a triangle-and-2 at Davidson a few years back with both players guarding Stephen Curry. Sure Loyola (MD) got some national attention, but they also ended up on the receiving end of a 30-point beating. Gimmicks to gain national attention may be of use to a school like Grinnell, but a Division I program doing so and becoming a laughing stock could get a coach fired.

There’s also the question of the player’s teammates going along with the idea. Most players, if not all, when being interviewed for recruiting sites say that they want to play fast (even those who are slower than molasses and incredibly lazy) when asked what they’re looking for in a school. That aspect won’t be much of a problem. But giving up touches so someone else can hoist away? Good luck selling that. The players may nod and say “yes, coach” when given the instructions, but will they carry it out? Not so sure, especially given the number of Division I games that are televised (the same can’t be said for Division III).

No Division I player will approach the 100-point plateau again; the folks at Furman can feel secure in the fact that Frank Selvy was the last.

* All numbers are from statsheet.com.

Professor’s Notes: Considering this feature will never be accomplished at the Division I level, you did an admirable job providing suitable candidates to do so. Your analysis of teams most likely to run enough possessions in order to get a player open for 100 points is spot-on. VMI and Central Connecticut State are the most likely candidates to put a player in position to even get close. However, it would have been great to read more about current players like Smith, Clarke and Henderson. In the right situation, say, Rotnei Clarke at Central Connecticut State, it could be plausible to see him score in the upwards of 70+ points in a single game. But as you mentioned, the perfect storm would need to occur. Also, the mention of other gimmicks, such as the triangle-and-two, scores major brownie points.

GRADE: B+/A

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

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Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

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Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

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De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

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Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.