Chase for 180: Marc Loving’s game-winner the latest step in his development

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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. 

We’ll update this list throughout the season, 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.

To read prior installments of the Chase for 180, click here

With the loss of their top three scorers from a team that won 25 games a season ago, Ohio State had some questions to answer heading into the 2014-15 campaign. Freshman guard D’Angelo Russell has emerged as the team’s primary scoring option, with Shannon Scott being the team’s best distributor and the athletic Sam Thompson emerging as a double-digit scorer in his final season.

While the addition of Russell has been the biggest key for the 22nd-ranked Buckeyes, it progression of sophomore forward Marc Loving is another reason why they’re 13-3 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten.

To describe Loving as a bit player last season would be accurate, as he accounted for 4.4 points and 1.7 rebounds in just over ten minutes of action per game. With the departure of leading scorers LaQuinton Ross, Lenzelle Smith Jr. and Aaron Craft it was obvious that more scoring opportunities would be available, and to Loving’s credit he’s taken full advantage thus far. Loving’s now averaging 12.3 points per game, shooting well from the field (52.1%), from three (54.5%) and from the foul line (83.3%).

Those numbers are all far superior to what Loving posted as a freshman, as he’s shown himself to be capable of not only handling an increased workload but also doing so in an efficient manner. Loving’s true shooting (up to 69.8% from 51.2%) and effective field goal (66.4% from 43.2%) percentages have increased substantially, and per hoop-math.com the sophomore has also improved his field goal percentage around the rim by some 24 percentage points (69.2% after making 45.2% of those shots last season).

As a result Loving’s scored in double figures in 13 of Ohio State’s 16 games, which includes a current streak of seven straight with the sophomore scoring 13 in the Buckeyes’ 74-72 overtime win at Minnesota Tuesday night. By comparison Loving reached double figures just four times all of last season, with two of those games coming in Big Ten contests in early January. The strides made between his freshman and sophomore seasons have positioned Loving as a player the Buckeyes have no issue giving scoring opportunities to, even if he isn’t their primary scoring option.

Tuesday night, that confidence resulted in a game-winning basket.

50-40-90 Club

Jack Gibbs (Davidson)
54.4% FG, 44.1% 3PT, 92.1% FT = 190.6
Gibbs is one of the reasons why the Wildcats are off to a 10-3 start despite being picked to finish 12th in the Atlantic 10.

He’s Really Close

Marcus Marshall (Missouri State)
47.4% FG, 47.7% 3PT, 89.1% FT = 184.2
Marshall didn’t have his best night in the Bears’ loss at Indiana State, scoring 11 points on 3-for-12 shooting.

Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga)
50.4, 46.2, 86.4 = 183.0
The senior continues to balance efficient shooting with running the show for one of the best teams in the country.

Ten More “180” Players

1. Derrick Marks (Boise State)
52.2% FG, 57.7% 3PT, 84.4% FT = 194.8
With Anthony Drmic (back/ankle) out for the remainder of the year, Marks becomes even more important for the Broncos.

2. Marc Loving (Ohio State)
52.1, 54.5, 83.3 = 189.9

3. Justin Anderson (Virginia)
53.7, 56.7, 77.3 = 187.7
Anderson shot just 5-for-14 in the Cavaliers’ win over NC State, including a 4-for-9 night from distance.

4. Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington)
51.6, 50.0, 82.5 = 184.1
Saturday’s 4-for-12 night in a win over Idaho State ended a streak of four straight games in which Harvey shot 63 percent or better from the field.

5. Corey Hawkins (UC Davis)
50.6, 48.6, 81.7 = 180.9
Hawkins scored 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting in the Aggies’ win over CSUN.

6. Sean Sellers (Ball State)
45.5, 47.9, 87.5 = 180.9
Sellers’ game-winner pushed the Cardinals past Eastern Michigan in overtime Wednesday night, but he’s shot 38.5% or worse from the field in four of the last five games.

7. Alec Wintering (Portland)
46.4, 50.0, 84.4 = 180.8
The sophomore followed up a 30-point outing in a loss at BYU with 20 in the Pilots’ loss to No. 7 Gonzaga on Saturday.

8. Alec Peters (Valparaiso)
50.5, 46.5, 83.6 = 180.6
Peters has hit a rough patch these last two games, shooting 9-for-29 from the field.

9. Frank Mason III (Kansas)
48.8, 48.7, 82.5 = 180.0
Mason’s performed better than many expected, and he’s shot 50 percent or better from the field in five of his last seven games.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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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

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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.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.