Who’s going to be the best three-point shooter in the land this season? If you can predict that, you can call yourself very good at predicting things although I would call you very lucky. I don’t have any special powers here, but I thought it might be fun to put together five shooters that would shoot very well this season. So well that it would be difficult to come up with another five-man team that would beat these guys.
True to my hermit-like nature, I didn’t consult a bunch of coaches or scouts to come up with this list. I used each player’s shooting numbers over the past two seasons to predict their three-point percentage this season, all from the comfort of my basement. The numbers I used were three-point, two-point, and free throws made and attempted. The three-point and free throw numbers are indicative of a player’s shooting touch. The two-point numbers probably pick up on a mix of shooting touch and size, or at least ability to get off a shot.
So did you make team? That’s a dumb question, because chances are you don’t play college basketball and you probably suck at three-point shooting. But these five guys do play and they can’t stop and won’t stop making shots.
Micah Mason, Duquesne (prediction: 42.6%)
In 2014, Mason posted the best three-point shooting season in this millenium (minimum 100 3PA’s) by connecting on 65-of-116 attempts as a sophomore (56.0%). But this selection still has some risk as there isn’t a ton of statistical information on Mason, and that’s reflected in a rather stark regression according to the model. It’s a fact that he also topped the 50 percent mark as a freshman at Drake but that was in just 79 attempts. And he’s attempted just 41 free throws over those two seasons. History suggests this prediction passes the laugh test, though it may be slightly on the low side. Among the 25 all-time best shooting seasons, 15 of those players returned the following season. After making an aggregate 55.8 percent of their threes in their hot year, they followed with an aggregate success rate of 44.0%, and five of the 15 seasons were worse than the model’s prediction for Mason.
Brett Olson, Denver (prediction: 42.3%)
Olson has made 44 percent of his 440 attempts from behind the arc over his first three seasons at Denver, so he’s no joke. He may be the only player to post consecutive 40+% seasons in three different conferences. He’s also made 92 percent of this free throws. Among players with a track record, he has a claim as the best shooter in the country. He’s 6-5 and he’ll get good looks in Joe Scott’s system again this season, whatever conference they choose to play in. He’s not Doug McDermott or Ethan Wragge, but in 2015, he passes for one of the safest bets of long-range success.
Michael Frazier, Florida (prediction: 41.0%)
Frazier has knocked down 45 percent of his 375 attempts in his first two seasons as a Gator. He’s not exactly a high-volume shooter, taking just 21 percent of Florida shots last season. But on a team without many perimeter threats, he was responsible for about half of the team’s three-point attempts when he was on the floor. Florida’s offense had enough threats so that defenses couldn’t key on Frazier’s shooting and that figures to be the case again this season.
Seth Hinrichs, Lafayette (prediction: 40.9%)
Hinrichs missed ten games last season with a knee injury and therefore attempted just 91 threes on the season. Still, his 41.8% accuracy rate was the worst of his three seasons with the Leopards. He’ll probably be Lafayette’s go-to guy, so he’ll get plenty of looks, and at 6-7 he’s a matchup problem on the perimeter.
Devante Wallace, High Point (prediction: 40.7%)
We’re pretty far in the depths of Division-I now, but if you’re a serious fan, you’ve heard of High Point’s stud big man John Brown. He won the Big South’s kPOY on account being above average in every basketball skill the box score measures. Brown’s ability down low is the focus of opposing scouting reports and Wallace benefits with a bevy of good looks from deep. As a junior last season, Wallace connected on 76-of-153 three-point attempts (49.7 percent) against D-I foes. He also made 51-of-56 free throws. He can shoot the ball and at 6-5, he’s another matchup problem. The looks should be there again in his senior season.
Those are my five. Feel free to pick your own. Maybe you can beat my group. Sure, I got the first five picks and that’s an unfair advantage I’ve given myself. But between the departures of Travis Bader and Doug McDermott and Ethan Wragge, there aren’t many obvious choices to start a team with. Plus, I’ve limited myself to guys with a track record. You’re welcome to pick a freshman or juco import that has a sharpshooting reputation.
My team’s probably going to shoot 40 percent, but maybe not because these things are hard to predict. So you have a really good shot at making yourself look smart. Even if you don’t beat me, I may give you some attention anyway since it’s always cool when people copy something I do. Feeding the ego and all that.