The Chase for 180: Jahii Carson’s improved jump shot

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Who is the best shooter in the country?

It’s a tough question to answer, isn’t it? Does being a “shooter” simply mean merely being a high-level marksman from beyond the arc? Can a player who thrives in the mid-range but rarely ventures out into three-point land be eligible? How heavily should we be valuing stats like efficiency and effective field goal percentage when taking all of this into account?

One number that we like to use is “180″. How do you become a 180 shooter? By shooting 50% or better from the field overall, 40% or better from three and at least 90% from the charity stripe. From this point forward we’ll track this until the end of the regular season, providing weekly updates as well as a look into how some of the nation’s best find (and connect on) their quality looks.

There’s no denying the fact that Arizona State point guard Jahii Carson was one of the nation’s best newcomers in 2012-13. After having to sit out the season prior Carson hit the ground running, posting averages of 18.5 points, 5.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game. Those numbers and the fact that the Sun Devils increased their win total by 12 (from ten wins in 2011-12 to 22) and scored nearly 11 points more per game led to Carson winning a share of the Pac-12’s Freshman of the Year award.

So what’s there to do for an encore? For starters, shoot at a better clip from beyond the arc and from the field overall. Through ten games Carson’s shot 51% from the field, an increase of more than three percentage points from a season ago, and his three-point percentage (52.9%) has jumped 20.9%. And for those into tempo-neutral numbers (per kenpom.com) Carson’s effective field goal (from 50.7% to 57.0%) and true shooting (from 55.2% to 59.6%) percentages have improved as well.

The presence of a Jermaine Marshall on the perimeter has certainly helped matters, and Carson’s also found a way to earn even more scoring opportunities at the rim. According to hoop-math.com Carson’s attempted nearly 52% of his shots at the rim, shooting 57.7% in such situations. While his field goal percentage at the rim in 2012-13 wasn’t far off (56.9%), just 42.8% of Carson’s shots were attempted in this area of the floor.

Carson’s three-point percentage improvement will be the stat that receives the most attention, because it’s rare for a player who’s responsible for the amount of offensive production asked of Carson to make a nearly 21-percent improvement from one year to the next. Carson’s always had the speed to beat defenders off the dribble, resulting in many choosing to sag off and force him to prove that he can consistently knock down perimeter shots. Through ten games it’s obvious that he’s improved in this area.

THE TOP TEN (Note: Players much be eligible to be ranked in FG%, 3PT% and FT%. And here’s a glossary that includes the stats you’ll see used in these posts.)

1) Austin Tillotson (Colgate)
66.7% FG, 70.6% 3PT, 90.0% FT = 227.3
Shot%: 19.0%
eFG%: 75.0%
True shooting%: 76.6%

2) Austin Hamilton (Elon)
61.2%, 61.1%, 77.3% = 199.6
Shot%: 16.0%
eFG%: 72.4%
True shooting%: 74.0%

3) Michael Frazier II (Florida)
51.4%, 52.2%, 91.7% = 195.3
Shot%: 20.4%
eFG%: 67.6%
True shooting%: 69.6%

4) Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga)
49.6%, 50.0%, 92.7% = 192.3
Shot%: 24.7%
eFG%: 64.2%
True shooting%: 68.8%

5) Will Neighbour (UALR)
59.7%, 52.9%, 77.8% = 190.4
Shot%: 22.0%
eFG%: 64.2%
True shooting%: 68.9%

6) Shabazz Napier (UConn)
50.0%, 57.1%, 78.0% = 185.1
Shot%: 22.0%
eFG%: 58.9%
True shooting%: 63.0%

7) Doug McDermott (Creighton)
50.3%, 45.3%, 86.7% = 182.3
Shot%: 36.8%
eFG%: 58.3%
True shooting%: 63.5%

8) Jalen Jackson (Central Arkansas)
52.7%, 51.9%, 77.8% = 182.4
Shot %: 23.7%
eFG%: 65.5%
True shooting%: 67.7%

9) Jahii Carson (Arizona State)
51.0%, 52.9%, 75.0% = 178.9
Shot%: 30.8%
eFG%: 57.0%
True shooting%: 59.6%

10) Zach LaVine (UCLA)
60.5%, 50.0%, 66.7% = 177.2
Shot%: 23.6%
eFG%: 72.8%
True shooting%: 72.6%

Five close-range shooters (no three-pointers attempted)

1) Sim Bhullar (New Mexico State)
70.9% FG, 1.89 PPS

2) Jon Smith (Ohio)
70.5% FG, 1.64 PPS

3) Kourtney Roberson (Texas A&M)
69.7%, 1.82 PPS

4) Marshall Bjorklund (North Dakota State)
69.7%, 1.66 PPS

5) Jordan Threloff (Northern Illinois)
69.4%, 1.92 PPS

Previous Installments
November 11
December 4

Donald Trump’s response to LaVar Ball: ‘I should’ve left them in jail!’

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I told you this was going to happen.

After LaVar Ball downplayed Donald Trump’s role in bringing home his son, LiAngelo, and the three other UCLA players that were arrested for shoplifting in China last week, Trump responded by taking to twitter and saying that he should have left American citizens in prison in a non-democratic, authoritarian country because they will not personally acknowledge his efforts enough:

Sigh.

Now we await LaVar’s response.

Five-star 2018 recruit Anfernee Simons could test NBA Draft process

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Five-star Class of 2018 guard Anfernee Simons is interested in potentially entering the 2018 NBA Draft.

According to a report from Jonathan Givony of ESPN, the former Louisville commit will likely be eligible to jump to the NBA straight out of high school since he graduated high school last year while turning 19 next June. The 6-foot-4 Simons, considered the No. 16 overall prospect in the Rivals’ Class of 2018 national rankings, is playing a post-grad season at IMG Academy for 2017-18 after reclassifying as a sophomore.

If Simons opts to go pro than college basketball loses a potential star as he’s been shooting up the national rankings over the past year. Simons was committed to the Cardinals since the beginning of his junior year but he opened things up once former head coach Rick Pitino lost his job in a fallout from the FBI investigation on college basketball.

Simons started his season at the National Prep Showcase this weekend as six NBA teams sent people to watch him play, according to Givony’s report.

It’ll be fascinating to see what happens in this situation as Simons hasn’t done much with the recruiting process over the last several months. Now that NBA teams are already watching him play, Simons could follow in Thon Maker’s footsteps and turn pro right away.

LaVar Ball on Trump’s involvement in bringing son home: ‘Who?’

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The war of words none of us wanted is now upon us.

LaVar Ball downplayed the impact that Donald Trump had in ensuring that his son, LiAngelo, along with two other UCLA players were released from custody and returned to the United States following a shoplifting incident on the team’s trip to China.

“Who?” the eldest Ball told ESPN on Friday night when asked about Trump’s involvement. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

When the players arrived back in Los Angeles, and before they had a chance to speak publicly, Trump had already taken to twitter to complain about the fact that the trio had not yet thanked him. Trump happened to be in China at the same time and, in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he reportedly asked for his counterpart’s help in assuring an expedited legal process.

Trump got the thank you that he so desperately needed when UCLA held a press conference announcing that the three players would be suspended indefinitely, but LaVar was not going to let the President have the last word. And you can bet that Trump is not going to let this be the end of it, either, which means that two men that have risen to prominence through their willingness to say the audacious whenever the spotlight is on them will have the floor.

And unless someone has managed to change the passcode on Trump’s cellphone, you can rest assured that this will not be the end of it.

Bridges perfect from 3, No. 5 Villanova blows out Lafayette

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ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Mikal Bridges set a school record by hitting all six of his 3-point shots and scored a career-high 24 points in No. 5 Villanova’s 104-57 rout of Lafayette on Friday night.

Jalen Brunson added 22 points and hit 4 of 6 3s in another dominant performance by the Wildcats (3-0), who made 16 of 30 from long range.

Three nights after setting a school record with 13 blocked shots in a blowout of Nicholls, the versatile and deep Wildcats showed another strength and overwhelmed the Leopards (0-3).

Led by Bridges’ 4 of 4 long-distance shooting, Villanova hit 11 of its first 14 3s in racing to a 39-16 lead. The Wildcats had a stretch of nine straight baskets being 3s en route to a 56-23 halftime lead.

Matt Klinewski had 16 points and six rebounds for Lafayette, which was 7 of 29 from 3-point range.

Bridges finished 9 of 10 from the field before he sat out the final 10 minutes. The junior bested his previous career-high by one point set Tuesday.

While it was a Villanova home game, it was played about 50 miles from campus at the PPL Center, home of minor league hockey’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. It was a 20-mile drive for Lafayette, but the Wildcats sure seemed at home.

Villanova spent much of the second half going inside to score. Omari Spellman had 15 points and nine rebounds and Eric Paschall had 14 points and eight boards.

BIG PICTURE

Lafayette: Try as a Patriot League school squaring off against one of the best teams in the nation and watching the opponent shoot like that, Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s alma mater never had a chance.

Villanova: The Wildcats have perimeter shooting, depth inside and play good defense. They’ve been dominant against inferior competition, and will finally get tested next week.

SO MANY 3-POINTERS

Bridges surpassed Doug West in 1988 and John Celestand in 1999, each of whom went 5 of 5 from long range. Villanova finished one shy of the school record of 17 3s set against Lehigh on Nov. 27, 2005.

NO LUCK

Lafayette coach Fran O’Hanlon fell to 0-6 against his alma mater. O’Hanlon still holds the Villanova record for assists in a game with 16 set against Toledo on Feb. 24, 1970.

Only six Division I coaches have been at their schools longer than O’Hanlon, in his 23rd season.

UP NEXT

Lafayette visits Princeton on Wednesday.

Villanova faces Western Kentucky on Wednesday in the first of three games at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. No. 19 Purdue and No. 3 Arizona are possible opponents the following two days.

Mykhailiuk helps No. 4 Kansas rout South Dakota State, 98-64

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — Svi Mykhailiuk scored a career-high 27 points, Lagerald Vick finished with 22 and fourth-ranked Kansas routed Summit League favorite South Dakota State 98-64 on Friday night.

Udoka Azubuike added 17 points and Malik Newman had 13 for the Jayhawks (3-0), who shot 60 percent from the field and didn’t commit a turnover until midway through the second half.

By that point, the Jackrabbits (3-1) were staring at a 30-point deficit.

Mike Daum led South Dakota State with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Tevin King contributed 12 points and David Jenkins Jr. scored 10 off the bench.

Once again without heralded freshman Billy Preston, the Jayhawks were forced to use the same reduced rotation that managed to top seventh-ranked Kentucky on Tuesday night. But their perilous lack of depth became crippling in the first half when Azubuike and Mitch Lightfoot picked up two fouls each.

That forced coach Bill Self to use walk-on Clay Young in the post.

The 6-foot-5 senior turned out to be a bright spot, too, keeping the ball moving on offense and handling the 6-9 Daum inside. The Jackrabbits’ leading scorer at more than 21 points per game had eight on 2-for-8 shooting in the first half, when Young spent a good chunk of time covering him.

Nobody could cover Mykhailiuk, though.

The senior from the Ukraine hit his first three shots — the Jayhawks made eight of their first nine — while getting into an easy rhythm. Even on the seemingly rare occasion that his jumper didn’t splash the net, it often rattled around the rim and dropped through to a thunderous ovation.

Several of his baskets came on feeds from Devonte Graham, who didn’t hit a field goal until deep in the second half. He finished with eight points but also had 11 assists and five boards.

PRESTON SITS

Preston went through early warmups but remained on the bench as Kansas investigates an on-campus incident that raised questions about the “financial picture” of the car he was driving. Self declined to discuss the situation other than to say “we’re definitely going to hold him out until we get to the bottom of this.” Self did say he expects a resolution soon.

BIG PICTURE

South Dakota State can recover from its thumping in paradise with a trip to the Cayman Islands Classic up next. But their next trip to the Sunflower State figures to be just as tough: They visit No. 6 Wichita State on Dec. 5.

Kansas cruised despite a shortened lineup again, and help is only a month away. Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe becomes eligible for a trip to Nebraska on Dec. 16, and there is a chance five-star prospect Silvio De Sousa from Florida’s IMG Academy enrolls at the semester break.

UP NEXT

South Dakota State plays Wyoming on Monday in George Town, Cayman Islands.

Kansas continues a four-game home stand against Texas Southern on Tuesday night.