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 hoop-math.com 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 kenpom.com.)

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

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK
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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

Joe Rondone/USA TODAY NETWORK
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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.