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

High school basketball player collapses, dies at AAU event

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James Hampton, a member of Team United and a senior at Liberty Heights, a private high school in Charlotte, collapsed and died during a Nike Elite Youth Basketball League game on Saturday night.

Hampton was 17 years old.

In the second half of a game against Nike Phamily, a Phoenix-based program that is run by the father of Marvin Bagley III, Hampton collapsed to the floor unresponsive. Trainers at the event began CPR on and administered chest compressions. Parademics arrived within 10 minutes, but Hampton could not be revived.

The cause of death has not yet been released, but this is not the first time that Hampton had an issue. Last spring, at an event in the Washington D.C. area, Hampton collapsed on the court and had to be given CPR.

“He just fell down on the floor,” Team United director Jacoby Davis told the Charlotte Observer. “He had seizures a year ago and I remember (one of the Team United coaches) telling me that, ‘I saw his eyes rolling back in his head.’ I ran on the court thinking he was having a seizure. A trainer came over and said he didn’t know what was wrong. Another trainer checked his pulse. He said he didn’t have a pulse. It got crazy after that.”

RIP James Hampton.

Nevada’s Jordan Caroline pulls out of 2018 NBA Draft

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Jordan Caroline has opted to pull his name out of the 2018 NBA Draft as he will return to Nevada for his senior season, he announced on Saturday.

The 6-foot-7 Caroline put together a strong season for the Wolf Pack as he averaged 17.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game as Nevada made the Sweet 16 behind one of the most talented offenses in the country.

Caroline’s return is a huge boost for Nevada as they still await the NBA draft decisions of Caleb and Cody Martin.

Currently ranked No. 17 in the NBCSports.com Preseason Top 25 (without the Martin twins), the Wolf Pack will still have a ton of talent around Caroline next season. Five-star freshman center Jordan Brown recently committed to Nevada. The program also a number of talented transfers entering the mix, including Tre’Shawn Thomas, Nisre Zouzoua and Ehab Amin.

If the Martin twins return to school (and that is a big if) then Nevada could have a potentially elite offense next season. But even if the Martin twins go pro, Nevada should still be the favorite in the Mountain West and a threat to once again make the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Dewan Huell returning to Miami for junior season

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Miami received some positive news on Saturday afternoon as the school announced the return of forward Dewan Huell for his junior season.

After testing the NBA draft waters without an agent, the 6-foot-11 Huell will be back for the Hurricanes. Starting all 32 games for the program last season, Huell averaged 11.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting 57 percent from the floor.

“After getting feedback from NBA teams and talking it over with my family and coaches, I would like to announce that I will be returning to Miami for my junior season,” Huell said in the release. “I’m really excited to get back to work with my brothers so we can accomplish more than ever during the 2018-19 season.”

A former McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school, Huell’s return gives the Hurricanes stability in the front court for next season as he’ll play with other returning players like Sam Waardenburg and Ebuka Izundu. With Miami losing both Lonnie Walker and Bruce Brown early to the 2018 NBA Draft, Huell could be expected to provide more offensive production as a junior.

Bruce Weber receives contract extension at Kansas State

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Kansas State and head coach Bruce Weber have agreed to a two-year contract extension, according to a release from the school.

After leading the Wildcats to a surprising Elite Eight appearance in March, Weber will be the head coach at Kansas State through the 2022-23 season, which gives him another five seasons to work with. Weber will be paid $2.5 million in 2018-19 and he’ll receive a $100,000 increase to his salary in each remaining contract year.

Weber had already signed a two-year extension in August 2017, but this move gives the veteran head coach more job security (and positive recruiting perception) for the next few seasons.

“We are very fortunate to have not only such an outstanding basketball coach but also a man in Coach Weber who conducts his program with integrity and class and is widely respected across the nation,” Kansas State Director of Athletics Gene Taylor said. “Certainly last season was one of the most memorable postseason runs in our program’s history, and we are excited for next season and the years ahead under Coach Weber’s leadership.”

With Kansas State returning most of its roster from last season, including the return of guard Barry Brown from the 2018 NBA Draft process, expectations are sky-high for Weber and the Wildcats this season. Currently ranked as the No. 8 team in the NBCSports.com Preseason Top 25, Kansas State’s veteran club could give Kansas a serious run for a Big 12 regular season title this season.

Northwestern loses incoming freshman point guard

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Northwestern and incoming freshman point guard Jordan Lathon are parting ways. The 6-foot-4 Lathon was viewed as a potential candidate to replace Bryant McIntosh at lead guard for the Wildcats this season, but Northwestern has reportedly revoked his offer of admission and basketball scholarship.

It is unclear why Lathon was unable to be admitted into Northwestern, but the school’s VP for University Relations, Alan Cubbage, gave a statement to Inside NU’s Davis Rich and Caleb Friedman.

“Northwestern University has revoked its offers of admission and an athletic scholarship for Jordan Lathon, a recruit for the Northwestern men’s basketball team,” the statement said. “Out of respect for the privacy of the student, the University will have no further public comment.”

Lathon later acknowledged the situation in a tweet explaining to fans that he will no longer be attending Northwestern.

While it is unclear why Lathon and Northwestern are parting ways, other high-major programs are already very interested in bringing in Lathon for next season. Oklahoma State immediately jumped in with a scholarship offer. There is also speculation that Lathon, a native of Grandview, Missouri, could also hear from the in-state Tigers as well.

It’ll be interesting to see where Lathon lands, and how this also affects Northwestern’s point guard situation. The loss of a four-year starter like McIntosh will be tough to fill, especially since Lathon was committed to Northwestern since last June. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Wildcats and head coach Chris Collins seek out a veteran point guard graduate transfer to try and get some immediate help.