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The Chase for 180: Riley Grabau utilizing increased opportunities

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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.

As a sophomore, Wyoming guard Riley Grabau started 30 of the 32 games in which he played but averaged just 6.0 points per game while shooting 35.2% from the field and 32.3% from beyond the arc. With seniors Derrious Gilmore and Leonard Washington leading the team in scoring and both boasting shot percentages around 26%, Grabau was in the position of being a supplementary piece for the Cowboys.

With those two out of eligibility it was clear that there would be more opportunities for players such as Grabau, and to this point in the season he’s taken advantage. Averaging 11.5 points per game, Grabau’s raised his shooting percentages to 45.4% from the field, 46.7% from three and 90.8% from the foul line. According to hoop-math.com nearly 74% of Grabau’s shots have been three-pointers, and he’s avoided taking many of the two-point jumpers (14.3% of his shots) that he hasn’t converted at a particularly high rate thus far (26.9% FG on those shots).

The key for Grabau down the stretch is whether or not he can build on the two games he put together last week, averaging 17.5 points per game in wins over then-No. 5 San Diego State and San Jose State. Against the Aztecs Grabau connected on five of his nine shot attempts from the field, shooting 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. Grabau followed that game up with a 5-for-11 afternoon against San Jose State, performing well offensively in a game that was anything but an offensive masterpiece (Wyoming won, 46-38).

So why would those games be so important moving forward? Wyoming’s lost leading scorer Larry Nance Jr. for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL, which he suffered in their win over Fresno State on Tuesday night. Nance leads Wyoming in shot percentage (27.0%), and the Cowboys will need to find a way to account for the 15.4 points per game (and 8.6 rebounds/game) that he provided if they’re to build on their current three-game win streak.

Among the players who will be asked to do more is Grabau, who scored just six points on Tuesday night (1-for-6 FG). But even with that effort, overall the junior guard has made strides within Larry Shyatt’s system. Can he take another step forward? The Cowboys certainly hope that will be the case.

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) Matt Kennedy (Charleston Southern)
51.0% FG, 51.9% 3PT, 90.8% 3PT = 193.7
Shot %: 19.2
eFG %: 59.0
True shooting %: 63.8

2) Jason Calliste (Oregon)
52.9, 51.2, 84.8 = 188.9
Shot %: 17.0
eFG %: 66.3
True shooting %: 71.9

3) Doug McDermott (Creighton)
51.3, 44.4, 90.1 = 185.8
Shot %: 38.0
eFG %: 58.5
True shooting %: 63.6

4) Brett Olson (Denver)
48.0, 42.5, 93.4 = 183.9
Shot %: 22.6
eFG %: 57.7
True shooting %: 64.0

5) Riley Grabau (Wyoming)
45.4, 46.7, 90.8 = 182.9
Shot %: 18.0
eFG %: 63.2
True shooting %: 68.9

6) Austin Tillotson (Colgate)
59.3, 50.0, 72.7 = 182.0
Shot %: 18.7
eFG %: 67.4
True shooting %: 69.0

7) Johnny Dee (San Diego)
43.9, 43.9, 93.3 = 181.1
Shot %: 30.4
eFG %: 54.6
True shooting %: 60.3

8) Trevor Releford (Alabama)
50.5, 40.1, 90.5 = 181.1
Shot %: 27.5
eFG %: 60.0
True shooting %: 65.5

9) Anthony Brown (Stanford)
49.1, 49.4, 81.8 = 180.3
Shot %: 18.9
eFG %: 58.3
True shooting %: 62.8

10) Tyler Haws (BYU)
47.8, 44.2, 87.2 = 179.2
Shot %: 31.2
eFG %: 51.8
True shooting %: 59.4

Inside the Arc (zero three-point attempts)

1) F Curtis Washington (Georgia State)
66.9% FG, 1.59 points/shot

2) C Sim Bhullar (New Mexico State)
66.1% FG, 1.71 points/shot

3) F Marquise Simmons (St. Bonaventure)
64.1% FG, 1.56 points/shot

4) F Jameel Warney (Stony Brook)
63.9% FG, 1.54 points/shot

5) F Marshall Bjorklund (North Dakota State)
63.6% FG, 1.54 points/shot

Previous Installments
November 11
December 4
December 11
December 18
January 8
January 15
January 22
January 29
February 5
February 12

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

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Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.

 

 

 

Five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt cuts list to nine

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Five-star Class of 2017 forward Jarred Vanderbilt has been one of the most sought-after recruits in the country since he was a freshman in high school.

The 6-foot-8 native of Houston is beginning to wind things down in the recruiting process as he cut his list to nine schools on Friday. Vanderbilt’s list includes some of the most storied programs in college basketball and plenty of schools from his home state of Texas.

“I just followed my heart. Went with the schools I liked the most and who I have the best relationships with. Thear were the schools I could see myself playing for,” Vanderbilt told NBCSports.com.

Regarded as the No. 13 overall prospect in the Rivals.com national rankings, Vanderbilt is currently recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

Vanderbilt will see a doctor in three-to-four weeks as he’s currently in a boot to help his foot heal.

Report: Michigan State and Penn State will play at the Palestra

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Head coach Patrick Chambers of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has previously expressed a desire to coach a game at the legendary Palestra in Philadelphia and it appears he’ll get his chance in a Big Ten game this season.

According to a report from Brendan F. Quinn of MLive, Penn State will use the Palestra as its home gym for the Jan. 7, 2017 Big Ten game against Michigan State. It is the only time the two teams are scheduled to play during Big Ten season and Penn’s home gym will offer a unique setting for the game.

Since the capacity of the Palestra is 8,722, it should make for a fun atmosphere for both programs since this will be a game both fan bases will likely want to attend.

With Nittany Lions head coach Pat Chambers making Philadelphia a major recruiting priority for his program, a game like this in Philadelphia makes sense while Michigan State has always been open to playing games in unique settings such as aircraft carriers.

The Palestra has been a college basketball mainstay since it was built in 1927 as it hosts all Penn home games and, in the past, hosted a lot of Big 5 Philadelphia college games between La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.

Overall, a fun idea that should make for an interesting experience for both programs. It’s not often that a team will change its home venue for a conference game, but it could be the start of something we see other schools look to do.