The Chase for 180: Phil Forte III’s shooting key factor for Oklahoma State

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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.

Trailing 47-30 at the half at then-No. 15 Kansas on Saturday afternoon, Travis Ford’s Oklahoma State Cowboys needed a spark. The Cowboys shot just 30.8% from the field, with sophomore guard Phil Forte III accounting for three of their eight made field goals. Forte would keep going in the second half, knocking down four more shots from beyond the arc to help get Oklahoma State back into the game, a contest they would lose 80-78. Forte’s final numbers: a season-high 23 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field (7-for-10 3PT).

The sophomore from Flower Mound, Texas has been a valuable reserve for Oklahoma State in each of his two seasons in Stillwater, but this season he’s doing so in a more efficient manner. After shooting 37.0% from the field and 33.8% from beyond the arc as a freshman, Forte’s made 50% of his three-pointers and is shooting 47.4% from the field overall through 18 games. As a result his effective field goal and true shooting percentages have made significant improvements as well.

Forte isn’t asked to create many of his shots off the dribble, with Markel Brown and Marcus Smart being the ones on the perimeter who get those opportunities within the Oklahoma State offense. Their ability to make plays off the dribble results in shot attempts for players such as Forte, with a high number of his shots being of the assisted variety.

According to nearly 80% of the shots Forte’s attempted this season have been three-pointers, with 94.3% of his makes from beyond the arc being assisted. Against Kansas six of Forte’s seven made three-pointers were assisted, with five different Cowboys assisting on those shots. Forte’s possession percentage may currently rank fifth on the team but his shot-making ability is clearly something Oklahoma State needs in order to be at its best offensively.

Through 18 games that’s been the case, helping to make Oklahoma State one of the better offensive teams in the country.

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. Tempo neutral numbers per

1) Jason Calliste (Oregon)
49.5% FG, 54.3% 3PT, 88.1% FT = 191.9
Shot %: 14.7%
eFG %: 61.7%
True shooting %: 71.0%

2) Matt Kennedy (Charleston Southern) 
48.3%, 52.9%, 87.8% = 189.0
Shot %: 18.7%
eFG %: 55.8%
True shooting %: 60.9%

3) Phil Forte III (Oklahoma State)
47.4%, 50.0%, 90.6% = 188
Shot %: 23.2%
eFG %: 67.3%
True shooting %: 71.8%

4) Austin Tillotson (Colgate)
61.0%, 54.8%, 71.2% = 187.0
Shot %: 19.0%
eFG %: 69.3%
True shooting %: 70.3%

5) Anthony Brown (Stanford)
51.4%, 50.9%, 83.3% = 185.6
Shot %: 18.8%
eFG %: 60.8%
True shooting %: 64.8%

6) Doug McDermott (Creighton)
50.2, 44.0, 90.3 = 184.5
Shot %: 37.1%
eFG %: 57.6%
True shooting %: 63.0

7) Riley Grabau (Wyoming)
46.0%, 48.2%, 90.2% = 184.4
Shot %: 17.1%
eFG %: 64.4%
True shooting %: 70.3%

8) Billy Baron (Canisius) 
47.1%, 45.3%, 91.3% = 183.7
Shot %: 28.0%
eFG %: 57.5%
True shooting %: 63.7%

9) Jarvis Summers (Ole Miss)
51.6%, 53.4%, 78.5% = 183.5
Shot %: 25.3%
eFG %: 59.9%
True shooting %: 64.8%

10) Trevor Releford (Alabama)
50.3%, 39.6%, 91.7% = 181.6
Shot %: 28.7%
eFG %: 59.9%
True shooting %: 64.4

Inside the Arc (five or fewer three-point attempts)

1) Dominique McKoy (Duquesne)
FG %: 68.1%
Three-point attempts: 0-for-2

2) Joel Embiid (Kansas)
FG %: 67.9%
Three-point attempts: 1-for-4

3) Sim Bhullar (New Mexico State)
FG %: 67.0%
Three-point attempts: none

4) Ladon Carter (Tennessee Tech) 
FG %: 66.7%
Three-point attempts: none

5) Ryan Rhoomes (Fordham) 
FG %: 66.3%
Three-point attempts: none

Previous Installments
November 11
December 4
December 11
December 18
January 8
January 15

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.


AP Poll: Syracuse, Xavier big winners in college basketball rankings

(Brad Horrigan/The Courant via AP)
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The new college basketball AP Poll is out, and it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to you that Syracuse and Xavier are the big winners.

The Orange steamrolled through a good Battle 4 Atlantis field, while Xavier capped a dominating performance in the Advocare Invitational with a 29-point win over Dayton. It should be no surprise that they are where they are.

[MORE RANKINGS: top 25 | Coaches Poll]

It is a bit surprising, however, that both Texas A&M and Providence made it into the polls with a loss this week. They both deserve to be there, I just wasn’t sure they were both going to be.

Anyway, here is the full poll:

1. Kentucky (59 first place votes)
2. Maryland (4)
3. Michigan State (2)
4. Kansas
5. Iowa State
6. Oklahoma
7. Duke
8. Villanova
9. North Carolina
10. Virginia
11. Purdue
12. Xavier
13. Gonzaga
14. Syracuse
15. Oregon
16. Vanderbilt
17. Cincinnati
18. Texas A&M
19. Arizona
20. West Virginia
21. Miami
22. SMU
23. Providence
24. Louisville
25. Baylor

NEW THIS WEEK: Syracuse, West Virginia, SMU, Providence, Louisville

DROPPED OUT: Indiana, Cal, UConn, LSU, Wichita State