Last season, I did this thing where I picked five guys that would shoot the you-know-what out of the ball and called it the #ShootersClub. The hashtag never did trend on twitter, or was used even ten times, but that doesn’t matter. If you just quit on things because nobody else cares then you wouldn’t do things like take out the trash or eat breakfast, and before you know it you’ll be starving in a house full of garbage.
The point of the #ShootersClub is to identify a group of five high-volume shooters that will collectively make 40% of their 3-point attempts this season. It is not easy to make 40% of one’s three-point attempts, even in a closed gym. And with the nation’s best athletes playing defense on you and a little bit of fatigue thrown in? It’s practically impossible.
But not for members of the #ShootersClub. This five-man group will knock down 40% of their threes this season. And I’m not even going to count action against non D-I teams because that would be cheating. No, this group will make 40% against legitimate opponents, in games that mean something, providing inspiration to impressionable youth that with a little practice, the seemingly impossible can be achieved.
Membership in the club is determined by a computer, and only players with two seasons of college experience are eligible because the computer can’t go to a gym and scout guys. It needs actual data to make decisions. That data includes past three-point shooting, naturally, but also past free throw shooting and two-point shooting. It also includes a player’s size, the quality of the offense he plays in, and his eligibility class (juniors get a slight bump).
Let’s review and congratulate last season’s club on its fine work. Here was my five-man crew that, as expected, burned up nets across the land:
Micah Mason, Duquesne (Predicted: 42.6%, Actual: 85-191, 44.5%)
Brett Olson, Denver (Predicted: 42.3%, Actual: 67-160, 41.9%)
Michael Frazier, Florida (Predicted: 41.0%, Actual: 57-150, 38.0%)
Seth Hinrichs, Lafayette (Predicted: 40.9%, Actual: 48-127, 37.8%)
Devante Wallace, High Point (Predicted: 40.7%, Actual: 62-154, 40.3%)
Total: 319-782, 40.8%
And now, for this season’s club…
Micah Mason, Duquesne (Prediction: 41.8%)
Our only returning member, Mason improbably made over half of his 3’s in each of his first two seasons. That he came as close as he did (44.5% last season) to doing it three seasons in a row is commendable, especially considering he attempted about as many as a junior as he did over his first two years combined. For the first time in a while, Duquesne will be able to hang with the best teams in the A-10 season, and the guy who once scored 64 points in a high school game will help make Dukes’ offense difficult to defend.
Isaiah Williams, Iona (41.3%)
Maybe it’s not so hard to find five guys that will shoot 40%. I suppose you could just take the five returning players that shot the best last season and get by. Depending on what threshold is used for attempts, Williams would have qualified based on that method. But more information is better and though Williams made 44.2% of his 3’s last season, he also made 42.7% two seasons ago. He’s also hit over 70% of his 2’s over that time, including an individual 2-point percentage title in 2014. Which means he’s super-duper efficient, finishing in the top ten nationally in offensive rating in each of the last two seasons. At 6-7, he’ll continue to get good looks against scrambling defenses that face the Gaels’ uptempo offense.
Jared Brownridge, Santa Clara (41.2%)
In his first two seasons, Brownridge has made 43.4% of his threes and he gives us additional confidence he can crack 40% again because he’s made 86% of his free throws. From the school that gave us Kevin Foster (whose 1,184 career 3-point attempts ranks third all-time), it’s a little surprising Brownridge doesn’t shoot it more. He’s hoisted 323 shots from inside the arc and made just 45% of those. A concern here is that Brownridge will be the go-to-guy on a team that might struggle offensively.
John Simons, Central Michigan (40.7%)
Keno Davis’s run at Providence didn’t go as well as PC fans would have liked, but he’s working some magic at Central Michigan, using the formula that produced incredible results for him at Drake. The Chips are leveraging math to win games. The formula: 3>2. They’ve ranked in the top ten in three-point attempt percentage in each of Davis’s three seasons in Mount Pleasant, and they’ll probably do it again – this season’s offense is ranked 22nd in the preseason.
Simons was a revelation last season as a junior, making 46.2% of his threes. He’s a shooter and that’s about it, but at 6-8 he’s a match-up nightmare in that regard. He also converted 68% of his very rare 2-point attempts and 85% of his slightly less rare free throws. In the end, his 141 offensive rating led the land. He’s going to come back down to earth a bit, but in this offense, he’s going to get high quality shots.
Jalan West, Northwestern State (40.7%)
There was no team more wacky that the Demons last season. They were ranked 37th offensively, 350th defensively, and 4th in tempo. Five times they were involved in non-overtime games where the winning team scored 100. Two other times the winning team scored 99. The Demons single-handedly kept last season from being the lowest-scoring in college basketball’s modern history.
And West was a big reason why. He’s the rare #ShootersClub candidate that can make 3’s and get to the free throw line in decent numbers. In his three seasons at Natchitoches, West has made 40.1% of his bombs against D-I opponents. He’s also attempted 418 free throws, making 86% of those. At 5-10, he’s the shortest member of this season’s club, so don’t let size get in the way of your sharpshooting dreams, kids. He popped up on at least one top 100 list and he may find himself on an NBA summer league roster in a few months.
And that, my friends, is this season’s #ShootersClub. One thing about this season’s group is that we have some guys that are going to get up some shots. Last season, the club registered 782 attempts, but this season’s group should be able to launch at least 1,000. And at least 410 of them will go in.