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College Basketball Season Preview: Top projected scorers
7:14 | College Basketball
College Basketball Season Preview: Top projected scorers
Dan Hanner & Luke Winn
Tuesday October 14th, 2014

How do you project a college basketball season?

Preseason polls are an average of perceptions -- of teams' returning talent and key additions, and their coaching staff's ability to convert it all into wins. Sports Illustrated's preview-issue rankings have always relied on that human-perception model, but this season, we've opted for something more scientific. Economist Dan Hanner has spent four seasons working on a statistical projection model that works from the bottom up, projecting advanced statistics -- including offensive rating, possession usage and rebounding rates -- for all Division I players, and using the results to project overall team performance. Hanner's model simulates the season 10,000 times, accounting for fluctuations in individual performance and health, and ranks teams according to their median performance. We'll reveal the entire 1-351 team rankings on Nov. 4 in SI and on SI.com, and in the lead-up, examine the model's most interesting individual-stat projections.

This is the first season Hanner, working with SI's Luke Winn, has attempted to forecast (and publish) raw points-, rebounds- and assists-per-game totals for every player in the top 11 conferences. The player projections are based on many factors: past advanced-statistical performance in the context of more than a decade of player data; the predictive power of recruiting rankings, both on immediate freshman performance and longer-term development; the quality of teammates and coaches; specific coaches' playing-time distribution tendencies; the estimated pace at which a team will play; and intel from coaches on how their rotations will be structured, which helps us better understand how many minutes and shots will be available to each player.

The first data-drop includes SI's projection of the nation's top 100 scorers according to raw points per game, as well as lists of the top 20 high-usage, high efficiency scorers, the top 20 rebounders, and the top 20 assist leaders. In the coming days we'll roll out our forecast of the top-scoring freshmen, the top-scoring transfers and the biggest breakout scorers. (Remember that these numbers exist within a team context; you won't find any Kentucky players here, because their proposed platoon system -- in which 10 players could each play around 20 minutes per game -- led to our system capping their top scorer, Aaron Harrison, at 11.4 points per game.)

projected Top 100 Scorers: 1-10
 
Rank name class pos. team ppg ORtg Poss (%)
1 Tyler Haws Sr. SG BYU 24.6 118 29
2 Chasson Randle Sr. SG Stanford 20.0 115 26
3 Joseph Young Sr. SG Oregon 19.7 130 24
4 DaVonte Lacy Sr. SG Washington St. 19.4 112 27
5 D.J. Balentine Jr. SG Evansville 19.4 110 30
6 Jarvis Summers Sr. PG Ole Miss 18.8 114 27
7 Myles Mack Sr. PG Rutgers 18.8 114 26
8 Terran Petteway Jr. SG Nebraska 18.6 104 31
9 Georges Niang Jr. PF Iowa St. 18.4 114 28
10 Olivier Hanlan Jr. PG Boston College 18.2 113 28

It was only four seasons ago that a BYU senior shooting guard was the nation's leading scorer and most talked-about player: Jimmer Fredette. The Cougar who could take that crown this season is far less famous: Tyler Haws, who was the country's sixth-leading scorer in 2013-14, on a team that lost its NCAA tournament opener to Oregon. Three of the players ahead of Haws graduated, one turned pro early and the other, Antoine Mason, transferred from Niagara to Auburn, where we forecast a scoring drop-off due to the increased level of competition. Haws' high-volume shooting tendency, reasonable efficiency and BYU's fast tempo makes him the most likely No. 1. The other prime contenders are also senior two-guards from the West Coast. Stanford's Chasson Randle (2) is another under-the-radar star who may have to shoulder a bigger offensive load now that Cardinal co-star Dwight Powell is in the NBA, and Oregon's Joseph Young (3) is a high-efficiency shooter/transition scorer on a roster that was decimated by transfers and player-ineligibility issues.

projected Top 100 Scorers: 11-20
 
rank name class pos. team PPG OTRG poss (%)
11 Jerian Grant Sr. PG Notre Dame 18.1 124 26
12 D'Angelo Harrison Sr. SG St. John's 18.0 114 26
13 D.J. Newbill Sr. SG Penn State 17.8 106 27
14 K.T. Harrell Sr. SG Auburn 17.8 109 28
15 Kellen Dunham Jr. SG Butler 17.6 108 25
16 Brandon Clark Sr. PG Santa Clara 17.4 112 27
17 Jared Brownridge So. SG Santa Clara 17.4 118 23
18 Brad Waldow Sr. PF Saint Mary's 17.4 120 27
19 Marcus Paige Jr. PG North Carolina 17.2 120 22
20 Marcus Foster So. SG Kansas State 17.2 105 27

Notre Dame's Jerian Grant (11) is somewhat of a forgotten man after missing last season's final 19 games due to an academic-related suspension. Grant was allowed to re-enroll at the school and, assuming he's the same player we saw early in '13-14, should battle with Boston College's Olivier Hanlan (10) and North Carolina's Marcus Paige (19) for the ACC scoring title. Santa Clara, meanwhile, looks poised to have the country's highest-scoring backcourt duo in senior point guard Brandon Clark (16) and sophomore shooting guard Jared Brownridge (17).

projected Top 100 Scorers: 21-30
 
Rank name class POs. team ppg otrg poss (%)
21 Evan Payne So. SG Loyola Marymount 17.2 100 29
22 Jon Severe So. SG Fordham 17.2 98 29
23 D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera Jr. SG Georgetown 17.2 122 24
24 Yogi Ferrell Jr. PG Indiana 17.1 120 25
25 Daniel Bejarano Sr. SG Colorado St. 17.1 113 26
26 Johnny Dee Sr. SG San Diego 17.1 120 23
27 Buddy Hield Jr. SG Oklahoma 17.0 118 24
28 Le'Bryan Nash Sr. SF Oklahoma St. 16.9 109 25
29 James Woodard Jr. SG Tulsa 16.7 120 22
30 Juwan Staten Sr. PG West Virginia 16.6 114 26

With Doug McDermott gone to the Bulls, the Big East should have a more open scoring-title competition between St. John's guard D'Angelo Harrison (No. 12), Butler guard Kellen Dunham (15) and Georgetown guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (23). And with Oklahoma State missing its two leading scorers from last season, Marcus Smart and Markel Brown, Cowboys guards LeBryan Nash (28) and Phil Forte (36) are both projected to become 16-point-plus per-game contributors.

projected Top 100 Scorers: 31-40
 
Rank name class pos. team PPg otrg poss (%)
31 Kendall Anthony Sr. PG Richmond 16.3 110 26
32 Stacy Davis Jr. PF Pepperdine 16.3 108 27
33 Will Cummings Sr. PG Temple 16.3 110 25
34 Seth Tuttle Sr. PF Northern Iowa 16.3 120 27
35 Treveon Graham Sr. SF VCU 16.2 116 26
36 Phil Forte Jr. SG Oklahoma St. 16.2 124 19
37 Perry Ellis Jr. PF Kansas 16.1 127 23
38 Jahlil Okafor Fr. C Duke 16.1 121 24
39 Rashad Vaughn Fr. SG UNLV 16.0 118 23
40 Andre Hollins Sr. SG Minnesota 15.9 117 24

The first freshmen appear! Duke's Jahlil Okafor (38), the No. 1 overall recruit in our aggregate Class of 2014 rankings, is a legit national player-of-the-year candidate. He's stepping into a perfect opportunity, with no one blocking him at the center position in the Blue Devils' rotation, two efficient point guards helping him in Quinn Cook and Tyus Jones, and plenty of shots available after the departure of Jabari Parker. UNLV's Rashad Vaughn (39) is the top talent in a huge Rebels recruiting class, and they need him to inherit the shots freed up by Bryce DeJean-Jones' transfer to Iowa State.

projected Top 100 Scorers: 41-50
 
rank name class pos. team ppg otrg poss (%)
41 Craig Sword Jr. SG Mississippi St. 15.9 99 29
42 Jordan Sibert Sr. SG Dayton 15.8 117 22
43 Codi Miller-McIntyre Jr. PG Wake Forest 15.7 106 25
44 Rayvonte Rice Sr. SG Illinois 15.6 110 26
45 Anthony Drmic Sr. SF Boise St. 15.6 118 24
46 Patrick Holloway Jr. SG George Mason 15.5 109 22
47 Sindarius Thornwell So. SG South Carolina 15.5 107 27
48 Derrick Marks Sr. PG Boise St. 15.4 108 30
49 Charles Mann Jr. PG Georgia 15.4 101 29
50 Jordan Loveridge Jr. SF Utah 15.3 111 24

Boise State, which was on the outside of the NCAA bubble last season after making the tournament in 2013, returns the projected Nos. 2 and 3 scorers in the Mountain West in wing Anthony Drmic (45) and point guard Derrick Marks (48). Utah, meanwhile, has two projected 15-plus point per-game scorers in Jordan Loveridge (50) and Delon Wright (57), who could help the Utes reach their first NCAA tournament since 2009.

Continue reading: 51-100 scorers, top rebounders and leading assist men

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Wichita State's Fred VanVleet (L) and Ron Baker are both projected as top-90 scorers.
Wichita State's Fred VanVleet (L) and Ron Baker are both projected as top-90 scorers.
Peter G. Aiken/Getty

 
projected Top 100 Scorers: 51-60
 
rank name class pos. team ppg otrg poss (%)
51 Trevor Cooney Jr. SG Syracuse 15.3 119 20
52 JayVaughn Pinkston Sr. PF Villanova 15.2 120 26
53 Cezar Guerrero Jr. PG Fresno St. 15.1 111 25
54 Sheldon McClellan Jr. SF Miami (Fla.) 15.1 114 24
55 Josh Scott Jr. PF Colorado 15.1 121 21
56 Anthony Beane Jr. Jr. SG Southern Illinois 15.1 112 22
57 Delon Wright Sr. PG Utah 15.1 121 22
58 Aaron White Sr. PF Iowa 15.0 124 21
59 Montrezl Harrell Jr. PF Louisville 15.0 122 23
60 Kevin Bailey Sr. SF Portland 15.0 109 28

Trevor Cooney (51) should be the leading scorer by default for offensively challenged Syracuse. The model projects the junior shooting guard to increase his average from 12.1 to 15.3 points per game. All-America candidate Montrezl Harrell (59) is projected to average 15.0 points for Louisville; while he's the Cards' lone frontcourt scoring threat, he'll have to share shots with the backcourt duo of Chris Jones and Terry Rozier, both of whom are projected to score 12.5 points per game.

projected Top 100 Scorers: 61-70
 
rank name Class pos. Team ppg otrg poss (%)
61 Frank Kaminsky Sr. C Wisconsin 15.0 126 25
62 Kyle Collinsworth Jr. PG BYU 15.0 109 24
63 Marcus Marshall Jr. PG Missouri St. 14.8 115 25
64 LaDontae Henton Sr. SF Providence 14.7 115 21
65 E.C. Matthews So. SG Rhode Island 14.7 106 25
66 Kyan Anderson Sr. PG TCU 14.6 107 25
67 Nigel Williams-Goss So. PG Washington 14.5 111 24
68 Ryan Boatright Sr. PG Connecticut 14.5 110 24
69 Darrun Hillard Sr. SG Villanova 14.5 116 23
70 Ron Baker Jr. SG Wichita St. 14.3 124 23

Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky (61), one of the preseason frontrunners for the Wooden and Naismith awards, has a 15.0-point projection. While the Badgers' pace of play limits its leaders' raw point totals, Kaminsky should be regarded as one of the country's most efficient, high-usage scorers. At UConn, the system projects senior point guard Ryan Boatright (68) to average 14.5 points; freshman Daniel Hamilton and N.C. State transfer Rodney Purvis are the other Huskies who could reach double-digits.

projected Top 100 Scorers: 71-80
 
rank name class pos. team ppg otrg poss (%)
71 Dezmine Wells Sr. SG Maryland 14.2 112 25
72 Kethan Savage Jr. SG George Washington 14.2 107 25
73 Kevin Pangos Sr. PG Gonzaga 14.2 127 20
74 Zak Irvin So. SF Michigan 14.1 121 21
75 Milton Doyle So. PG Loyal Chicago 14.1 98 30
76 J.J. Avila Sr. PF Colorado St. 14.0 113 27
77 Pat Connaughton Sr. SF Notre Dame 14.0 127 19
78 Aaron Thomas Jr. SG Florida St. 13.9 107 25
79 Jalen Jones Sr. SF Texas A&M 13.9 109 24
80 Michael Perez Sr. PG Nevada 13.8 105 21

Gonzaga point guard Kevin Pangos (73) has made a career out of efficient, moderate-usage scoring, and that should continue this season. We project him to crack the top 100 at 14.2 points per game and be the leader of a Zags offense that could have four other double-digit scorers in Kyle Wiltjer, Gary Bell Jr., Przemek Karnowski and Byron Wesley. At Michigan, our projections see wing Zak Irvin (74) making a big jump from 6.7 points per game as a freshman to 14.1 as a sophomore.

projected Top 100 Scorers: 81-90
 
rank name class pos. team ppg otrg poss (%)
81 Jonathan Stark So. PG Tulane 13.8 109 24
82 Quenton DeCosey Jr. SG Temple 13.8 107 22
83 Sam Dekker Jr. SF Wisconsin 13.8 105 22
84 Thomas Van Der Mars Sr. PF Portland 13.8 121 22
85 Daishon Knight Sr. SG Illinois St. 13.8 98 27
86 Louis Dabney Jr. SG Tulane 13.7 103 28
87 Fred VanVleet Jr. PG Wichita St. 13.7 130 21
88 Jordan Mickey So. PF LSU 13.7 112 20
89 Larry Nance Jr. Sr. PF Wyoming 13.7 114 24
90 DeAndre Mathieu Sr. PG Minnesota 13.7 109 23

Fred VanVleet (87) isn't forecasted as Wichita State's leading scorer -- that would be Ron Baker (70) -- but its senior point guard is projected to put up an incredibly efficient 13.7 points per game with an offensive rating of 130, while also dishing out 5.5 assists. The system has Larry Nance Jr. (89), who's coming back from a February ACL tear, regaining his status as Wyoming's leading scorer, but that's contingent on a full return to health.

projected Top 100 Scorers: 91-100
 
RANK NAME CLASS POS. TEAM PPG OTRG POSS (%)
91 Tyrone Wallace Jr. PG California 13.6 110 22
92 Kadeem Jack Sr. PF Rutgers 13.6 105 24
93 Nic Moore Jr. PG SMU 13.6 117 21
94 A.J. Hammons Jr. C Purdue 13.6 106 25
95 Billy Garrett So. PG DePaul 13.6 108 24
96 Adam Smith Jr. SG Virginia Tech 13.6 106 25
97 Cady Lalanne Sr. PF Massachusetts 13.6 111 21
98 Jerrell Wright Sr. PF La Salle 13.6 110 27
99 Matt Carlino Sr. PG Marquette 13.5 106 23
100 Brian Sullivan Jr. SG Davidson 13.5 112 22

Even though SMU won't have super-recruit Emmanuel Mudiay -- he chose the Mustangs but opted for a pro deal in China instead -- it has an efficient lead guard in Nic Moore (93), who's projected to score 13.6 points per game. In order to surprise anyone in the Big Ten, Purdue probably needs a huge year out of 7-foot junior A.J. Hammons (94), but our system projects a modest 2.8-point jump from his sophomore year average, to 13.6 points per game.

Continue reading: Top efficient, high-usage scorers; leading rebounders and assist men

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Jerian Grant was playing at an elite level last season before an academic suspension sidelined him. He projects strongly in our raw and efficiency-based projected stats.
Jerian Grant was playing at an elite level last season before an academic suspension sidelined him. He projects strongly in our raw and efficiency-based projected stats.
Joe Robbins/Getty

Projecting the most efficient, high-usage scorers

Anyone familiar with advanced stats (or really, basketball at all) knows that the top 100 scorers in raw points per game aren't the 100 most valuable scorers in the game. That's why we've broken out a separate projection chart of the 20 most efficient scorers whom the system expects to use at least 24 percent of their team's possessions, thus making them "high-usage" players.

This is where Kaminsky's value to Wisconsin really becomes evident. He's projected to use a quarter of the Badgers' possessions at a 1.259-points-per clip -- the best of anyone in the country. Okafor's All-America candidacy also becomes clearer, and this suggests that pundits should be talking more about Saint Mary's senior forward Brad Waldow in the preseason:

Efficient, High-Usage Scorers
 
rank name class team pred. volume pred. otrg
1 Frank Kaminsky Sr. Wisconsin 25% 125.9
2 Jerian Grant Sr. Notre Dame 26% 124.0
3 Jahlil Okafor Fr. Duke 24% 120.6
4 Brad Waldow Sr. Saint Mary's 27% 120.0
5 Seth Tuttle Sr. Northern Iowa 27% 120.0
6 Yogi Ferrell Jr. Indiana 25% 120.0
7 JayVaughn Pinkston Sr. Villanova 26% 119.7
8 Tyler Haws Sr. BYU 29% 118.2
9 Anthony Drmic Sr. Boise St. 24% 117.9
10 Treveon Graham Sr. VCU 26% 115.6
11 Chasson Randle Sr. Stanford 26% 115.4
12 Joshua Smith Sr. Georgetown 26% 114.9
13 Marcus Marshall Jr. Missouri St. 25% 114.7
14 Georges Niang Jr. Iowa St. 28% 114.5
15 Jarvis Summers Sr. Mississippi 27% 114.3
16 Larry Nance Jr. Sr. Wyoming 24% 114.3
17 Juwan Staten Sr. West Virginia 26% 114.2
18 D'Angelo Harrison Sr. St. John's 26% 114.1
19 Myles Mack Sr. Rutgers 26% 113.6
20 Daniel Bejarano Sr. Colorado St. 26% 113.5

Projecting the top 20 rebounders

Many of the college game's elite rebounders (Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes, Kentucky's Julius Randle, Boise State's Ryan Watkins, etc.) either turned pro or graduated after last season, and thus no player from the top 11 conferences is projected to average double-digit boards. UMass senior Cady Lalanne, who averaged 7.9 rebounds last season, is the system's top pick. Three players who made the most-efficient high-usage scorers list -- Okafor, Waldow and Northern Iowa's Seth Tuttle -- also appear among the top glass-cleaners.

Top rebounders
 
rank player class team rpg
1 Cady Lalanne Sr. Massachusetts 9.2
2 Nate Austin Sr. BYU 9.1
3 Jahlil Okafor Fr. Duke 9.1
4 Steve Zack Sr. La Salle 8.8
5 Ricardo Gathers Jr. Baylor 8.7
6 Egidijus Mockevicius Jr. Evansville 8.7
7 Ryan Rhoomes Jr. Fordham 8.6
8 Josh Scott Jr. Colorado 8.5
9 A.J. Hammons Jr. Purdue 8.5
10 Kameron Woods Sr. Butler 8.5
11 Ryan Spangler Jr. Oklahoma 8.5
12 Brad Waldow Sr. Saint Mary's 8.5
13 Seth Tuttle Sr. Northern Iowa 8.4
14 Myles Turner Fr. Texas 8.2
15 Kennedy Meeks So. North Carolina 8.2
16 Domantas Sabonis Fr. Gonzaga 8.1
17 Jordan Mickey So. LSU 8.0
18 Stacy Davis Jr. Pepperdine 7.9
19 A.J. West Sr. Nevada 7.9
20 David Kravish Sr. California 7.8

Projecting the top 20 assist leaders

Notre Dame's Grant isn’t just a high-volume, high-efficiency scorer: He's also projected to chase the national assist title, which makes him a strong All-ACC candidate. Christopher Anderson, a senior point guard at San Diego who averaged 5.0, 5.7 and 6.2 assists during his first three seasons, is forecasted to be the No. 1 distributor in our 11-conference sample. VanVleet's presence in the top five, combined with his low turnover rate and smart shot selection, is what makes him an All-America candidate. Duke's Tyus Jones, a five-star point guard recruit, is projected as freshman who will have the most assists -- with plenty of them expected to go to Okafor.

Top assist men
 
rank player class team apg
1 Christopher Anderson Sr. San Diego 6.5
2 Jerian Grant Sr. Notre Dame 6.2
3 L.J. Rose Jr. Houston 5.8
4 Matt Carlino Sr. Marquette 5.7
5 Fred VanVleet Jr. Wichita St. 5.5
6 Juwan Staten Sr. West Virginia 5.2
7 T.J. McConnell Sr. Arizona 5.1
8 Shannon Scott Sr. Ohio St. 5.1
9 Tyus Jones Fr. Duke 4.9
10 Austin Chatman Sr. Creighton 4.9
11 Delon Wright Sr. Utah 4.9
12 Nic Moore Jr. SMU 4.8
13 Anthony Collins Sr. South Florida 4.8
14 Jeremy Major So. Pepperdine 4.8
15 Alex Caruso Jr. Texas A&M 4.8
16 James Robinson Jr. Pittsburgh 4.7
17 Myles Mack Sr. Rutgers 4.6
18 Marcus Paige Jr. North Carolina 4.6
19 Kenny Chery Sr. Baylor 4.6
20 Jarvis Summers Sr. Missisippi 4.6

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