Chase for 180: Jack Gibbs’ progression a key factor in Davidson’s 12-3 start

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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

Entering the 2014-15 season, their first as a member of the Atlantic 10, not a whole lot was expected of the Davidson Wildcats by outsiders. Bob McKillop’s team lost three starters from last season’s team, with forward De’Mon Brooks (who led the team in both scoring and rebounding) being the biggest departure. As a result the Wildcats were picked to finish 12th in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll.

However through 15 games Davidson has the conference’s biggest surprise, as they’ve put together a 12-3 record and are 3.1 in conference play. After having four players averaging double figures a season ago Davidson has five in 2014-15, with one of the most improved guards in sophomore Jack Gibbs leading the way at 16.3 ppg. After averaging 6.8 points and 2.1 assists per game as one of the Wildcats’ first reserves off the bench as a freshman, Gibbs has raised his scoring by more than nine points per game and also leads the team in assists (4.9 apg) while also adding 4.5 rebounds per contest.

The biggest key for Gibbs thus far is that with increased scoring opportunities, his shooting percentages have improved by substantial margins from both the field (54.0%; 38.2% as a freshman) and from three (43.1%; 32.1). Add in his 91.8% from the foul line, and Gibbs has been one of the best all-around shooters in the country to this point in the season. Gibbs is attempting an average of 9.3 field goals per game, a figure that isn’t all that surprising when taking into consideration the presence of Tyler Kalinoski (16.2 ppg), Jordan Barham (10.8), Brian Sullivan (10.3) and Peyton Aldridge (10.2).

Davidson’s offense, which is ranked fifth nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers, had resulted in quality looks for Gibbs and others and as a whole the Wildcats have taken advantage. The area where Gibbs has made the greatest improvement is his shooting inside of the arc, where he’s increased his shooting percentage from 35.5% in 2013-14 to 55.6% in 2014-15 per hoop-math.com. Two-point jump shots make up just over 20 percent of Gibbs’ attempts this season, with opportunities at the rim and from beyond the arc taken with greater frequency.

Given Davidson’s scoring options, there will continue be open opportunities for Gibbs moving forward thanks to the Wildcats’ spacing on offense. If Gibbs can continue to take advantage at the level he has through 15 games, the Wildcats will continue to be a factor in the Atlantic 10 race.

50-40-90 Club

Jack Gibbs (Davidson)
54.0% FG, 43.1% 3PT, 91.8% FT = 188.9

He’s Close to 50-40-90 Status

Derrick Marks (Boise State)
51.0, 53.3, 82.5 = 186.8

Marks shot 12-for-26 from the field, scoring 28 points, in the Broncos’ overtime win over UNLV on Tuesday.

Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga)
50.8, 48.1, 87.8 = 186.7

We’ve yet to see what kind of impact the addition of Eric McClellan will have on Pangos as the Vanderbilt transfer is sidelined due to injury, but Pangos continues to shoot the ball well for the third-ranked Bulldogs.

Marcus Marshall (Missouri State)
45.9, 45.6, 89.9 = 181.4

Missouri State’s leading scorer was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team on Wednesday, so it remains to be seen when he’ll return to the court.

Five More “180” Players

Justin Anderson (Virginia)
53.3, 55.7, 78.0 = 187.0

Anderson hit half of his shots from the field (5-for-10) and from three (3-for-6) in the second-ranked Cavaliers’ win over Clemson on Tuesday.

Alec Wintering (Portland)
47.3, 51.3, 84.8 = 183.4

Wintering will look to help the Pilots rebound from their loss to San Francisco with a win over Loyola Marymount Thursday night, and he shot 2-for-10 from the field in two meetings with the Lions last season.

Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington)
50.8, 49.0, 83.1 = 182.9

Harvey shot below his percentage for the season in an 89-86 win over Idaho on Saturday, shooting 6-for-15 from the field, but he still managed to score 23 points.

Corey Hawkins (UC Davis)
51.4, 49.4, 80.3 = 181.1

Hawkins led the Aggies to their first win over Long Beach State since 2009 on Saturday, scoring 28 points on 8-for-13 shooting from the field and 8-for-10 from the foul line.

Rayvonte Rice (Illinois)
51.5, 48.3, 80.3 = 180.1

Rice is currently sidelined with a broken left hand, suffered in early January, and could miss anywhere from three to six weeks.