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College Basketball Top 100: Top scorer projections
3:31 | College Basketball
College Basketball Top 100: Top scorer projections
Dan Hanner & Luke Winn
Thursday October 15th, 2015

Over the coming weeks, SI will reveal its player projections, conference forecasts and national rankings for the 2015-16 season. These are derived from our statistical projection system, a collaboration between economist Dan Hanner and SI's Luke Winn and Chris Johnson that's now in its second year.

We used the projection model to generate individual stats for every player in the top 11 conferences (AAC, ACC, Atlantic 10, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Missouri Valley, Mountain West, Pac-12, SEC and West Coast). The individual projections are based on many factors, including players' past advanced-statistical performance in the context of more than a decade of D-I player data; the predictive power of recruiting ratings, both on immediate freshman performance and longer-term development; coaches' abilities to develop and maximize talent, as well as their playing-time distribution tendencies; teams' estimated pace of play; and intel from teams on how their rotations will be structured, which helps us better forecast how many minutes and shots will be available to each player.

The second reveal of SI's projection-system output is our top 100 scorers, by raw points per game:

Projected Top 100 scorers: 1-10
Rank Name Team Projected PPG Last year’s PPG
1 Kyle Wiltjer Gonzaga 21.0 16.8
2 D.J. Balentine Evansville 20.6 20.1
3 Stefan Moody Mississippi 19.1 16.6
4 Jared Brownridge Santa Clara 18.7 15.9
5 Jordan Price La Salle 18.4 17.2
6 D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera Georgetown 17.8 16.3
7 Buddy Hield Oklahoma 17.7 17.4
8 E.C. Matthews Rhode Island 17.5 16.9
9 Jack Gibbs Davidson 17.5 16.2
10 DeAndre Bembry Saint Joseph's 17.4 17.7

On Wednesday, SI named Gonzaga's Kyle Wiltjer (No. 1) a frontrunner for national player of the year, so he needs no additional hype. Evansville's D.J. Balentine (No. 2) on the other hand, might be the best scoring guard you've yet to see on TV: He averaged 27.2 points in Evansville's five CIT games last postseason and has averaged 20-plus points for the past two seasons. Our projections view him as Wiltjer's primary challenger for the national scoring title. Balentine has an outside shot at making his first NCAA tournament appearance this season, too; we project the Aces as the best Missouri Valley Conference team not named Wichita State.

Projected Top 100 scorers: 11-20
Rank Name Team Projected PPG Last year’s PPG
11 Ben Simmons LSU 17.2 N/A
12 Marcus Posley St. Bonaventure 17.1 16.7
13 Shavon Shields Nebraska 17.0 15.4
14 Chase Fischer BYU 16.9 13.2
15 Cullen Neal New Mexico 16.9 17.0
16 Kris Dunn Providence 16.9 15.6
17 Jaylen Brown California 16.8 N/A
18 Taurean Prince Baylor 16.7 13.9
19 Phil Forte Oklahoma St. 16.7 15.0
20 Georges Niang Iowa St. 16.6 15.3

After transferring to BYU from Wake Forest, Chase Fischer (No. 14) spent 2014-15 as an auxiliary option to volume scorer Tyler Haws. SI's projections expect Fischer to emerge as one of the country's top scorers as a senior. He's already an accomplished three-point shooter, having ranked 10th nationally in long-range makes last season, and he'll be playing in a fast-paced offense alongside an elite distributor in Kyle Collinsworth (No. 30).

Projected Top 100 scorers: 21-30
Rank Name Team Projected PPG Last year’s PPG
21 Anthony Beane Jr. Southern Illinois 16.6 16.1
22 Marvelle Harris Fresno St. 16.5 16.4
23 Grayson Allen Duke 16.4 4.5
24 Denzel Valentine Michigan St. 16.4 14.5
25 DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell Illinois St. 16.4 12.3
26 Perry Ellis Kansas 16.3 13.8
27 Melo Trimble Maryland 16.3 16.2
28 Codi Miller-McIntyre Wake Forest 16.2 14.5
29 Yogi Ferrell Indiana 16.2 16.3
30 Kyle Collinsworth BYU 16.1 13.8

No one on SI's top 100 scorers list is projected to make a bigger leap than Duke's Grayson Allen (No. 23), who averaged 4.5 points per game as a freshman and could realistically exceed 16 as a sophomore. Meanwhile, our projections expect Illinois State's DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell (No. 25) to emerge as a mid-major scoring star and the leader of a tourney darkhorse.

Projected Top 100 scorers: 31-40
Rank Name Team Projected PPG Last year’s PPG
31 Nigel Hayes Wisconsin 15.7 12.4
32 Andrew Andrews Washington 15.7 15.0
33 James Blackmon Jr. Indiana 15.7 15.7
34 Brandon Ingram Duke 15.6  
35 Kellen Dunham Butler 15.6 16.5
36 Anthony Barber North Carolina St. 15.4 12.1
37 Stacy Davis Pepperdine 15.4 15.7
38 Bronson Koenig Wisconsin 15.4 8.7
39 Josh Scott Colorado 15.3 14.5
40 Louis Dabney Tulane 15.3 13.6

After two years of being led in scoring by Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, Wisconsin is now Nigel Hayes's (No. 31) and Bronson Koenig's (No. 38) team. SI projects the Badgers' junior-co stars to each average 15-plus points per game. Hayes is already a natural, high-volume scorer, but look for Koenig to evolve from an occasional shooter into UW's primary source of backcourt offense.

Projected Top 100 scorers: 41-50
Rank Name Team Projected PPG Last year’s PPG
41 Demetrius Jackson Notre Dame 15.2 12.4
42 Damian Jones Vanderbilt 15.1 14.4
43 Zach Auguste Notre Dame 15.0 12.8
44 Sheldon McClellan Miami (Fla.) 15.0 14.5
45 Josh Hawkinson Washington St. 15.0 14.7
46 Jalen Reynolds Xavier 15.0 9.9
47 T.J. Wallace Pacific 14.8 13.0
48 T.J. Cline Richmond 14.8 11.8
49 Ron Baker Wichita St. 14.8 14.7
50 Billy Garrett DePaul 14.7 12.3

Notre Dame's Demetrius Jackson (No. 41) is ready to make the transition from Jerian Grant's sidekick into one of the nation's best point guards. There are plenty of shots available after the departures of Grant and Pat Connaughton, and Jackson and Zach Auguste (No. 43) project to be an elite point guard/center scoring duo.

Projected Top 100 scorers: 51-60
Rank Name Team Projected PPG Last year’s PPG
51 Craig Sword Mississippi St. 14.6 11.3
52 Eli Carter Boston College 14.6 8.8
53 Dion Wright St. Bonaventure 14.5 13.5
54 Anthony Drmic Boise St. 14.5 15.0
55 Caleb White East Carolina 14.5 12.2
56 Malcolm Brogdon Virginia 14.4 14.0
57 Jamal Murray Kentucky 14.4  
58 Alec Wintering Portland 14.3 12.3
59 Warren Jones Bradley 14.3 11.9
60 V.J. Beachem Notre Dame 14.3 5.9

You may have forgotten about Boise State's Anthony Drmic (No. 54), a proven scorer who played just seven games in 2014-15 before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. The Australian import was granted a fifth year of eligibility by the NCAA as a medical hardship case and should contend for Mountain West player of the year honors.

Projected Top 100 scorers: 61-70
Rank Name Team Projected PPG Last year’s PPG
61 Malik Newman Mississippi St. 14.3  
62 Nic Moore SMU 14.3 14.5
63 Marcus Paige North Carolina 14.3 14.1
64 Isaiah Taylor Texas 14.3 13.1
65 James Woodard Tulsa 14.3 14.5
66 Danuel House Texas A&M 14.3 14.8
67 Tyrone Wallace California 14.3 17.0
68 ShawnDre' Jones Richmond 14.2 10.3
69 Isaiah Whitehead Seton Hall 14.2 12.0
70 Bryce Alford UCLA 14.2 15.4

SI projects two members of Mississippi State's backcourt to crack the top 100: senior Craig Sword (No. 51) and freshman Malik Newman (no. 61). There may not be enough talent around them for the Bulldogs to reach the NCAA tournament in coach Ben Howland's first season—our projections view them as an NIT team—but regardless, the Sword-Newman duo will be fun to watch.

Projected Top 100 scorers: 71-80
Rank Name Team Projected PPG Last year’s PPG
71 Nate Mason Minnesota 14.2 9.8
72 Duane Wilson Marquette 14.1 11.9
73 Caris LeVert Michigan 14.1 14.9
74 Malcolm Hill Illinois 14.1 14.4
75 Fred VanVleet Wichita St. 14.0 13.6
76 Brandon Taylor Penn St. 14.0 9.1
77 Jalen Moore Utah St. 14.0 15.2
78 Shep Garner Penn St. 14.0 9.2
79 Myke Henry DePaul 14.0 12.0
80 B.J. Tyson East Carolina 14.0 12.6

Getting Caris LeVert (No. 73) back for his senior season—after a foot fracture cut his junior campaign to just 17 games—is a boon for Michigan. SI's projections have the versatile guard putting up 14.1 points per game, but that could be conservative if wing Zak Irvin is slow to recover from a back injury that's sidelined him in the preseason.

Projected Top 100 scorers: 81-90
Rank Name Team Projected PPG Last year’s PPG
81 AJ West Nevada 13.9 12.1
82 Jarrod Uthoff Iowa 13.9 12.4
83 Mandell Thomas Fordham 13.8 13.3
84 Micah Mason Duquesne 13.8 12.8
85 Skal Labissiere Kentucky 13.8  
86 Terry Allen Richmond 13.8 13.0
87 Brice Johnson North Carolina 13.8 12.9
88 Shevon Thompson George Mason 13.7 12.5
89 Katin Reinhardt USC 13.7 12.5
90 Brian Sullivan Davidson 13.7 12.7

Kentucky, just as it did last season, projects to have a ultra-balanced scoring attack. SI expects freshmen Skal Labissiere (No. 85) and Jamal Murray (No. 57) to be the co-leaders in what will likely be their only season in Lexington. Both are projected Lottery Picks in the 2016 NBA Draft.

Projected Top 100 scorers: 91-100
Rank Name Team Projected PPG Last year’s PPG
91 Elgin Cook Oregon 13.6 13.0
92 Josh Adams Wyoming 13.6 12.8
93 Melvin Johnson VCU 13.6 12.3
94 Henry Ellenson Marquette 13.6  
95 Dillon Brooks Oregon 13.5 11.5
96 Mike Young Pittsburgh 13.5 13.4
97 Monte Morris Iowa St. 13.4 11.9
98 Justin Jackson North Carolina 13.4 10.7
99 Xavier Rathan-Mayes Florida St. 13.4 14.9
100 Steve Vasturia Notre Dame 13.4 10.1

The prize of Marquette's 2015 recruiting class, stretch-four Henry Ellenson (No. 94), projects to be the highest-scoring freshman in the Big East. He and sophomore guard Duane Wilson (No. 72) will lead a Golden Eagles team that we expect to get back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013.

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