Chase for 180: Sterling Gibbs’ improved shooting a significant factor in Seton Hall’s 6-0 start


The “Chase for 180” is back for a second year, and for those who may not be familiar with the project it’s our attempt to identify some of the best shooters in America. But what makes one an “elite shooter?” For some it’s merely the ability to knock down perimeter shots at a high rate, but that isn’t the case for all players. High-level shooting requires proficiency from three, the field overall, and from the foul line. 

“180” refers to the resulting number when adding a player’s field goal, three-point and free throw percentages, with the best shooters either approaching or surpassing that mark. 50 percent or better from the field overall, 40 percent or better from three and 90 percent or better from the foul line. This achievement has occurred more often in college basketball than it has in the NBA, where just six players (Steve Nash did it in four different seasons) have done it in the history of the league. 

This season we’ll update this list weekly, with players also needing to qualify to be ranked by the NCAA in each of the three percentage categories in order to be considered. In order to qualify to be ranked a player needs to have played in at least 75 percent of his team’s games and have averaged: 

  • five or more field goal attempts per game;
  • two or more three-point attempts per game;
  • 2.5 or more free throw attempts per game.

Note: Provisional Division I member Incarnate Word was not included, as four of their first five games have been played against non-Division I competition.  

After finishing the 2013-14 season with a 17-17 overall record, the hope for the Seton Hall Pirates entering this season was that a highly regarded recruiting class would help them take a step forward in the Big East. In this current era of college basketball the tendency is to focus on “who’s next” while a decent number of returnees are viewed as “yesterday’s news.” In regards to Seton Hall Isaiah Whitehead and company may have been the focus, but there is no doubt that the Pirates need their returnees as well if they’re a factor in the Big East conversation.

One of those returnees is junior guard Sterling Gibbs, and his play to start the season is a significant reason why the Pirates are currently 6-0. Gibbs is currently averaging a team-best 18.3 points per game, an increase of more than five points from a season ago (13.2 ppg). Part of that has to do with the loss of three of the team’s top five scorers from last season in Fuquan Edwin, Eugene Teague and Patrik Auda.

The bigger factor: Gibbs is not only taking better shots, but he’s also made them at a far greater clip through five games.

After shooting 41 percent from the field, 34.4% from three and 72.4% from the charity stripe in 2013-14, Gibbs has been a “50-40-90” player for Willard’s Pirates thus far. Gibbs is currently shooting 52.5% from the field (14th in the Big East), 58.3% from three (first) and 91.4% from the foul line (third). And a look at Gibbs’ percentages in certain areas of the floor reveal that he’s done a better job of converting around the rim than he did a season ago.

According to Gibbs attempted 53.5% of his shots at the rim in 2013-14, making 44.8% of those shots. Through six games in 2014-15 Gibbs has taken 47.5% of his shots in that area of the floor, shooting 55.2%. Gibbs has also made strides with regards to his effective field goal and true shooting percentages, going from 46.7% to 63.9% in the former and from 55.2% to 70.8% in the latter per

Those numbers may very well change when the Pirates begin conference play, thanks to opponents being more familiar with Gibbs and his skill set. Or they could remain where they are, with the junior building on the quality start his team needed. As Seton Hall’s underclassmen find their way in Willard’s system, the play of the “elder statesman” Gibbs is a big reason why the Pirates are currently on the edge of the Top 25.

“50-40-90 Club”

1. Sean Sellers (Ball State)
Percentages: 51.7 (FG), 63.2 (3PT), 90.0 (FT) = 210.3

Sellers (19.5 ppg) is one of two freshmen leading the way for the Cardinals, with guard Jeremie Tyler being the other.

2. Sterling Gibbs (Seton Hall)
Percentages: 52.5, 58.3, 91.4 = 202.2

3. Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga)
Percentages: 58.3, 46.2, 90.0 = 194.5

Pangos’ assist-to-turnover ratio has received a lot of attention thus far, but he remains one of the nation’s best shooters.

4. Tyler Haws (BYU)
Percentages: 50.5, 42.4, 91.1 = 184.0

Haws has picked up where he left off last season, averaging 22.1 points per game on a team that’s averaging nearly 96 points per contest.

Seven more “180” players 

1. Alec Peters (Valparaiso)
Percentages: 59.8, 55.0, 84.6 = 199.4

After averaging 12.7 points per game as a freshman, the 6-foot-9 Peters is up to 19.2 and is one of the top shooters in the Horizon League.

2. Marc Loving (Ohio State)
Percentages: 57.9, 57.9, 81.8 = 197.6

D’Angelo Russell is the headliner offensively, but keep an eye on the sophomore Loving as the season wears on as he gives the Buckeyes a solid pick-and-pop option.

3. Austin Richie (Western Michigan)
Percentages: 54.7, 58.3, 83.3 = 196.3

The senior guard has made improvements across the board, with his scoring (13.1 ppg) increasing by more than five points from last season (7.9 ppg).

4. Tim Douglas (Portland State)
Percentages: 55.9, 61.1, 78.6 = 195.6

Douglas (12.0 ppg) is one of five Vikings averaging double figures, with the balance being one reason why they’re currently 4-1.

5. Anthony Livingston (Arkansas State)
Percentages: 63.9, 62.5, 68.8 = 195.2

The 6-foot-8 sophomore is currently averaging 20.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest.

6. Wade Baldwin IV (Vanderbilt)
Percentages: 54.8, 58.3, 80.0 = 193.1

Baldwin’s part of a freshman class that’s being asked to hit the ground running at Vanderbilt, and he’s averaging 8.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest.

7. James Blackmon Jr. (Indiana)
Percentages: 51.2, 53.7, 87.5 = 192.4

Blackmon Jr.’s ability to score has taken some of the scoring load off of Yogi Ferrell’s shoulders.


Vince Edwards (Purdue): 63.5% FG, 47.6% 3PT, 80.0% FT
Trevon Bluiett (Xavier): 55.7% FG, 50.0% 3PT, 86.4% FT

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

kansas mccullar
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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”

Clemson leading scorer Hall withdraws from NBA draft, returns to Tigers

clemson pj hall
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson leading scorer PJ Hall is returning to college after withdrawing from the NBA draft on Thursday.

The 6-foot-10 forward took part in the NBA combine and posted his decision to put off the pros on social media.

Hall led the Tigers with 15.3 points per game this past season. He also led the Tigers with 37 blocks, along with 5.7 rebounds. Hall helped Clemson finish third in the Atlantic Coast Conference while posting a program-record 14 league wins.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell said Hall gained experience from going through the NBA’s combine that will help the team next season. “I’m counting on him and others to help lead a very talented group,” he said.

Hall was named to the all-ACC third team last season as the Tigers went 23-10.

George Washington adopts new name ‘Revolutionaries’ to replace ‘Colonials’

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WASHINGTON — George Washington University’s sports teams will now be known as the Revolutionaries, the school announced.

Revolutionaries replaces Colonials, which had been GW’s name since 1926. Officials made the decision last year to drop the old name after determining it no longer unified the community.

GW said 8,000 different names were suggested and 47,000 points of feedback made during the 12-month process. Revolutionaries won out over the other final choices of Ambassadors, Blue Fog and Sentinels.

“I am very grateful for the active engagement of our community throughout the development of the new moniker,” president Mark S. Wrighton said. “This process was truly driven by our students, faculty, staff and alumni, and the result is a moniker that broadly reflects our community – and our distinguished and distinguishable GW spirit.”

George the mascot will stay and a new logo developed soon for the Revolutionaries name that takes effect for the 2023-24 school year. The university is part of the Atlantic 10 Conference.