The Chase for 180: Joseph Young climbs into Top 10

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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.

When Joseph Young made the decision to transfer from Houston to Oregon during the summer, it was known that the Ducks would be gaining a player more than capable of putting points on the board. As a sophomore Young averaged 18.0 points per game, shooting 45.8% from the field and 42.0% from beyond the arc. Different programs mean getting used to different systems, and for much of the 2013-14 season Young has adjusted well offensively. Young’s raised his field goal percentage up to 48.2%, and one reason for the increase has been the increase in the number of shots he’s attempted at the rim.

According to hoop-math.com just 19.3% of Young’s shot attempts last season were at the rim and nearly 42% of his shots were two-point jumpers. In his first season at Oregon, 36.3% of Young’s shot attempts have come at the rim and 20.9% of his shots have been two-point jumpers. And with that change his offensive rating (131.6), effective field goal (57.2%) and true shooting (63.9%) percentages have all increased while his shot percentage has remained about the same (26.9; 26.6 last season) per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers.

However it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Young (or his teammates, for that matter) this season, as evidenced by a four-game slump he was mired in last month.

Beginning with a loss to Stanford on January 12 and ending with a win at lowly Washington State on January 26, Young shot 11-for-39 (28.2%) from the field and 5-for-20 (25.0%) from beyond the arc. On the season just over 41% of Young’s field goal attempts have been three-pointers. During that four-game stretch the percentage rose to 51.3%. When attacking the opposition Young has proven to be a difficult matchup, something that wasn’t the case during a stretch in which the Ducks went 1-3.

Young got back on the right track, shooting 50% or better from the field in four of the seven games that followed that rough patch. And while the schedule has helped Oregon win three straight games ahead of their trip to Los Angeles this week, the improved offensive production of players such as Young has also been a factor. Can a team that was at one point ranked in the Top 10 fight its way into the NCAA tournament? If Young (Sunday’s 4-for-12 night against Washington State notwithstanding) can continue to perform at the rate he has for much of this season, the Ducks will most likely hear their name called on Selection Sunday.

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)
50.7% FG, 51.2% 3PT, 91.0% FT = 192.9
Shot %: 18.8
eFG %: 58.5
True shooting %: 63.1

2) Austin Tillotson (Colgate)
60.5, 53.0, 73.6 = 187.1
Shot %: 18.8
eFG %: 68.9
True shooting %: 70.4

3) Jason Calliste (Oregon)
51.5, 48.4, 85.0 = 184.9
Shot %: 17.1
eFG %: 64.6
True shooting %: 70.4

4) Doug McDermott (Creighton)
52.1, 44.3, 88.4 = 184.8
Shot %: 37.6
eFG %: 59.2
True shooting %: 64.3

5) Brett Olson (Denver)
47.5, 43.0, 92.6 = 183.1
Shot %: 22.1
eFG %: 57.5
True shooting %: 63.6

6) Johnny Dee (San Diego)
44.0, 43.8, 93.8 = 181.6
Shot %: 29.9
eFG %: 54.8
True shooting %: 60.6

7) Phil Forte III (Oklahoma State)
45.5, 45.8, 89.5 = 180.8
Shot %: 22.2
eFG %: 63.1
True shooting %: 67.7

8) Trevor Releford (Alabama)
50.8, 40.4, 88.6 = 179.8
Shot %: 27.7
eFG %: 60.5
True shooting %: 65.5

9) Joseph Young (Oregon)
48.2, 42.1, 89.5 = 179.8
Shot %: 26.9
eFG %: 57.2
True shooting %: 63.9

10) Jay Hook (Tulane)
46.7, 49.6, 83.3 = 179.6
Shot %: 22.3
eFG %: 60.0
True shooting %: 65.6

Five Perimeter Marksmen (25 or fewer two-point attempts)

1) Ethan Wragge (Creighton)
50% 3PT; 2-for-6 2PT

2) Anthony Lindauer (High Point)
49.2%; 8-for-25

3) Ben Cherry (Charlotte)
47.7%; 9-for-24

4) Jeff Elorriaga (Boise State)
46.9%; 8-for-17

5) Kikko Haydar (Arkansas)
46.3%; 2-for-10

Previous Installments
November 11
December 4
December 11
December 18
January 8
January 15
January 22
January 29
February 5
February 12
February 19

Wake’s Collins declares for NBA draft without hiring agent

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Wake Forest’s John Collins is entering the NBA draft but will not hire an agent and is keeping open the option of returning to school for his junior season.

In a statement Wednesday announcing the decision, Collins said he wants “to make an informed decision about what is best for my future.”

Collins is a 6-foot-10 forward who as a sophomore blossomed into one of the best big men in the Atlantic Coast Conference and was voted to the Associated Press all-ACC team.

He averaged 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds, putting together a string of 12 consecutive 20-point games late in the season.

His progression was a big reason why the Demon Deacons earned their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2010. Kansas State beat Wake Forest in the First Four.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org

Porter, Jr. will ask for Washington release

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There may be an overwhelming assumption on where Michael Porter, Jr. – and his father – will ultimately end up, but the five-star recruit is said publicly that he see his re-recruitment process through.

Porter, Jr. said in a teleconference Wednesday that he will ask for his release from Washington, and his father, a former Huskies assistant, has been offered a job at Missouri by new Tigers coach Cuonzo Martin.

“Right now I’m just trying to take it slow with my family and weigh my options,” Porter Jr. said, according to the Kansas City Star. “I plan to get my (national letter of intent) from Washington back and just go from there, not saying that I’m not going to Washington anymore, but I just want to get it back and weigh my options.”

The prevailing thought has been that the Porters will ultimately land in Columbia, where they have significant history.

Still, it would appear at least publicly that Porter, Jr., a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, will weigh his options in at least the short-term.

Calipari signs two-year extension with Kentucky

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Kentucky continues to take care of John Calipari.

The Wildcats coach has received a two-year extension, keeping him under contract in Lexington through the 2024 season, the school announced Wednesday.

The contract will pay Calipari $7.75 million next season and increase to $8 million per season thereafter.

“John has achieved consistent championship-level performance at Kentucky,” Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement. “No one in America is better suited for everything that comes with being the coach here. Not only has he attained incredible success on the court, he is also a leader in our community and in college basketball.

“We have been blessed to have him and Ellen here for the last eight years and we are blessed they will continue to call Kentucky home.”

Not only does the deal extend Calipari, but it continues to keep Kentucky competitive with the NBA, which would seem to be the only outlet that would even potentially tempt Calipari away from Kentucky. An NBA franchise would have to make him among the highest-paid coaches in the league to even match Kentucky financially.

Of course, given that Calipari has spurned interest from the league since returning to college in 2000, it seems unlikely that financial considerations would be the lone or heaviest variable in making a decision to move on.

Certainly, Calipari has an excellent thing going at Kentucky as the premier recruiting program in the country that has enjoyed serious success on the court, culminating in a 2012 national title and a 38-0 start to the 2015 season before a loss in the Final Four.

“The last eight years at the University of Kentucky have been a terrific ride,” Calipari said in a statement. “This extension shows our full commitment to each other. I believe this school is the gold standard and I’m so thankful and blessed that this university has given me this opportunity at this point in my career.”

The Wildcats face UCLA in the Sweet 16 on Friday.

Louisville’s Mitchell declaring for draft, won’t hire an agent

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Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell is the latest to decide to see what the NBA might offer.

“I have decided to test the waters and not hire an agent!” Mitchell wrote in an Instagram post Wednesday. “I am excited to work out this summer for teams and hopefully participate in the NBA combine! I want it to be clear I have not decided to leave Louisville!”

Mitchell, who is expected to be joined by dozens of players, is taking advantage of new NCAA rules that allow him to work out for teams and attend the NBA draft combine before making a decision on whether to remain in the draft and return to school.

Players have until May 24 to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

Mitchell averaged 15.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a sophomore, shooting 40.8 percent overall and 35.4 percent on 3-point attempts.

The 6-foot-3 guard is projected as a potential first-round pick, but should he return, the Cardinals would project as one of the top teams in the country with nearly the entire core returning from this year’s 25-9 squad.

Moe-mentum: Wagner stands tall for Sweet 16-bound Michigan

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Ask Moe Wagner who he looked up to when he was younger, and suddenly the Michigan big man’s fiery demeanor makes a little more sense.

“Kevin Garnett was always my biggest idol, even though our play isn’t really similar. Just the way he brings intensity and energy to his team,” Wagner said. “That always was something that really impressed me.”

Now Wagner is providing his own emotional leadership to a Michigan team that has become one of college basketball’s most remarkable stories this March.

The Wolverines have won six in a row since they were involved in a plane accident on the eve of their Big Ten Tournament opener.

After winning that conference tourney, they opened the NCAAs with victories against Oklahoma State and Louisville – with Wagner scoring 26 points in the win over Louisville that sent Michigan to the Sweet 16.

The 19-year-old Wagner is in his second season with the Wolverines. He showed some promise in 2015-16, but averaged only 8.6 minutes a game as a freshman. He’s been a starter the whole way this season, teaming up with D.J. Wilson to give Michigan some unexpected production in the frontcourt.

The Wolverines entered the season with high hopes thanks to the presence of seniors Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin.

The 6-foot-11 Wagner has made them even tougher to defend. The sophomore from Berlin is averaging 12.2 points a game, and unlike Mitch McGary and Jordan Morgan – two of Michigan’s top big men of the recent past – Wagner is a threat from beyond the arc. He’s made 41 percent of his 3-point attempts in 2016-17, putting even more pressure on opposing teams.

An expressive player on the court, Wagner admits he’s still learning how to keep his emotions under control.

Coach John Beilein says Wagner can be hard on himself, but he has an upbeat attitude the Wolverines can appreciate.

“I don’t want to rob him of his energy and his passion,” Beilein said. “If you heard him in timeouts – I mean, he is really into it. And it’s encouraging things he’s saying.”

The key for Wagner is to stay on the court. He’s been whistled for 100 fouls this season – no other Michigan player has more than 80 – and he picked up two in the first 3:11 when the Wolverines faced Oklahoma State in their NCAA Tournament opener Friday. Wagner played only 14 minutes in that frenetic game, which Michigan won 92-91 .

Against Louisville in the round of 32 , Wagner went 11 of 14 from the field and kept his poise after being called for his second foul late in the first half.

“He’s always just been an excited guy – play hard and play with a lot of passion,” Walton said. “I don’t think anything has changed. I think he’s just channeling it a little better.”

The seventh-seeded Wolverines face third-seeded Oregon on Thursday night in a regional semifinal. Michigan has won seven in a row, a streak that began with the team’s last game of the regular season.

What happened next is well documented. The day before its opening game in the conference tournament, Michigan’s plane slid off the runway .

There were no serious injuries, and the Wolverines arrived in time to play. Then they won four games in four days to take the title.

Now, Michigan is two victories away from an improbable Final Four appearance. If the Wolverines actually make it that far, Wagner will be a big reason why – and he’ll probably be as excited as anyone.

“One of my youth coaches actually used to say that I was somebody who, like, sees the basketball court as a stage and really enjoys it,” Wagner said. “Last year, I started to understand what that actually means, and kind of embraced that this year. That’s just me. I really love it. I really enjoy it.”