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The Chase for 180: Billy Baron’s become even more lethal

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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.

In his first season at Canisius guard Billy Baron proved to be one of the MAAC’s best players, posting averages of 17.2 points and 5.0 assists per game. And with shooting percentages of 43.9% from the field, 38.2% from three and 82.4% from the foul line, Baron was also an efficient shooter who ranked in the top ten in the MAAC in both effective field goal (51.5; 8th) and true shooting (57.0; 6th) percentages.

So what would Baron do for an encore? To this point in the season, all he’s done is become an even more lethal scorer while averaging nearly the same number of assists per game (4.9 apg) for a team that’s currently tied for first place in the MAAC.

Baron’s scoring has increased to 24.2 points per game, which is quite the achievement when considering just how much attention he receives from opponents on a daily basis. That’s an impressive number, one that ranks third nationally and second in the MAAC, but what makes it even more impressive is the fact that Baron’s done this while raising all of his shooting percentages.

He’s currently shooting 48.0% from the field, 45.5% from three and 91.0% from the charity stripe, and since shooting just 33.3% in a win over Lamar on December 21 Baron’s shot at least 45% from the field in nine straight games. And in those nine games Baron’s attempted an average of 17 shots per game. And according to hoop-math.com Baron’s improved his percentage on two-point jumpers, making 37.6% of those shots after connecting on just 32.1% a season ago.

Add to that his improvements at the rim (62.5% from 57.7%) and beyond the arc, and the end result is a player who’s likely the early favorite for MAAC Player of the Year and possibly some national recognition as well.

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 kenpom.com.)

1) Jason Calliste (Oregon) 
53.2% FG, 55.6% 3PT, 88.4% FT = 197.2
Shot %: 15.5
eFG %: 65.9
True shooting %: 73.2

2) Phil Forte III (Oklahoma State)
46.8, 49.6, 91.8 = 188.2
Shot %: 23.2
eFG %: 66.2
True shooting %: 71.0

3) Jarvis Summers (Ole Miss)
51.7, 55.0, 79.1 = 185.8
Shot %: 25.2
eFG %: 59.5
True shooting %: 64.4

4) Billy Baron (Canisius)
48.0, 45.5, 91.0 = 184.5
Shot %: 29.1
eFG %: 58.6
True shooting %: 64.7

5) Doug McDermott (Creighton)
50.0, 43.9, 89.3 = 183.2
Shot %: 37.9
eFG %: 57.5
True shooting %: 62.5

6) Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga)
46.4, 45.1, 91.2 = 182.7
Shot %: 22.9
eFG %: 57.9
True shooting %: 62.7

7) Anthony Brown (Stanford) 
50.3, 50.0, 81.7 = 182.0
Shot %: 19.0
eFG %: 59.6
True shooting %: 63.4

8) Riley Grabau (Wyoming)
44.9, 45.7, 90.4 = 181.0
Shot %: 17.6
eFG %: 61.7
True shooting %: 67.6

9) Johnny Dee (San Diego)
44.2, 43.0, 93.5 = 180.7
Shot %: 30.8
eFG %: 54.3
True shooting %: 59.8

10) Austin Tillotson (Colgate)
58.1, 49.0, 73.6 = 180.7
Shot %: 18.5
eFG %: 66.0
True shooting %: 68.1

Five Perimeter Marksmen (20 or fewer two-point attempts)

1) Kikko Haydar (Arkansas)
50% 3PT; 1-for-9 2PT

2) Anthony Lindauer (High Point)
50% 3PT; 2-for-11 2PT

3) John Gage (Stanford)
50% 3PT; 4-for-10 2PT

4) Ethan Wragge (Creighton)
49.7% 3PT; 2-for-6 2PT

5) Ben Cherry (Charlotte)
49.2% 3PT; 8-for-10 2PT

Previous Installments
November 11
December 4
December 11
December 18
January 8
January 15
January 22

Indiana lands four-star Class of 2017 wing Justin Smith

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Indiana landed an athletic wing commitment on Monday night as four-star small forward Justin Smith pledged to the Hoosiers on Twitter.

The 6-foot-6 Smith is a native of Lincolnshire, Illinois and comes from Stevenson High School as he’s regarded as the No. 105 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2017 rankings.

A high-flying wing who is great in the open floor, Smith should fit the Hoosiers’ uptempo system perfectly and if he’s able to get a more consistent perimeter jumper then he has a chance to be a really nice piece for Indiana.

Smith joins three-star guard Al Durham in Indiana’s recruiting Class of 2017.

Michigan State addingTom Izzo Hall of History wing in remodeled Breslin Center

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 22:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts against the Virginia Cavaliers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has already been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this fall and the longtime Spartans head coach is receiving another unique honor in the remodeled Breslin Center.

The school announced over the weekend that the Tom Izzo Hall of History will be added to the Breslin Center renovations as the building is supposed to be completed by the fall of 2017.

“The Tom Izzo Hall of History will become a great gathering place on our campus where together we can celebrate the excellence of Spartan Basketball and MSU Athletics,” athletic director Mark Hollis said in a release. “When this facility project is complete it will be the finest college basketball facility in the country, so it’s only fitting that Tom’s name will be a permanent part of it.”

Overall, this is a nice addition to the Breslin Center, especially since Izzo and Michigan State basketball will forever be associated with one another. It should be cool for fans to go through it and re-live great moments in Michigan State history and the wing is another nice recruiting tool that can help point out all of Izzo’s biggest accomplishments.

 

Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament moving to Orlando amid Zika concerns

Lon Kruger
(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
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Amid concerns over the Zika virus, the annual Puerto Rico Tip-Off announced a change in venue on Monday. Rather than staying on the island, the tournament will move to Orlando and all games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney.

The dates and teams will remain the same for the event as it will be played Thursday, Nov. 17, Friday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 20. The field for the event includes Arizona State, Clemson, Davidson, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Tulane and Xavier.

“We enjoy the beauty and accommodations that are afforded in Puerto Rico and wanted to make every effort in playing the event in San Juan, but the concern for student-athlete and spectator welfare became the primary driver in the decision,” Pete Derzis, senior vice president of ESPN Events said in the official release.  “We intend to return to Puerto Rico in the future.”

Puerto Rico is currently under a Level 2 alert for Zika according to the CDC. Since there have been cases of Zika on the island with native mosquitoes, it’s probably a smart move to eliminate all concerns over the virus if they can easily move the tournament elsewhere. It probably isn’t ideal for fans who purchased travel packages to Puerto Rico to watch the event, but it’s a small price to pay for the safety of everyone involved.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company is also upset with the decision as Executive Director Ingrid Rivera Rocafort released a statement on Monday night.

“We are disappointed about this decision that we believe has been based on fear not the facts about Puerto Rico,” the statement read.

“There is no public health reason to cancel the Puerto Rico Tip Off or any sporting event in Puerto Rico. There is no doubt that our strong fan base and local spectators would have turned out to support their teams. Less than one percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million population has contracted Zika, a far cry from projections. The hype and misinformation is fostering irrational decisions.”

PHOTO: Purdue unveils statue of John Wooden outside Mackey Arena

John Wooden (Purdue Athletics)
Purdue Athletics
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John Wooden will forever be associated with the UCLA program for what he did while coaching there.

10 national titles in 12 years, including seven in a row. Not bad, right?

What some people may forget is that before he got into coaching, Wooden was one of the best basketball players in the world. He played his collegiate ball at Purdue, where he was a three-time all-american and the 1932 National Player of the Year.

To honor Wooden’s legacy as one of the greatest Boilermakers ever, Purdue built a statue of Wooden and unveiled it in front of Mackey Arena this weekend:

“Not many people think of Johnny Wooden as a Boilermaker, but when I got here in 1957, some of the old-timers still remembered him as a player,” Jim Hicks, the alumnus that donated the statue, said. “I’m so delighted that people will see this statue and read his Pyramid of Success because I think the pyramid was his most important contribution.”

One of the neat touches of the statue: Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is right there for all to see.

North Carolina lands third commitment in 2017 class

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 23: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Iowa State Cyclones at the AT&T Center on March 23, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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North Carolina picked up their third commitment in the Class of 2017 on Monday in big man Brandon Huffman.

A four-star prospect who will play his final season of high school ball at Word of God Academy in North Carolina, Huffman’s strength at this point in his development is as a defensive presence around the basket. He stands 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan and should be able to help replace Kennedy Meeks, who graduates this spring.

Huffman’s development on the offensive end of the floor isn’t quite there yet. A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Huffman is still learning how to be more influential on that end.

Huffman joins Jalek Felton and Andrew Platek in UNC’s 2017 class.