Gonzaga's Kyle Wiltjer leads Top 100 projected scorers in college hoops

3:31 | College Basketball
College Basketball Top 100: Top scorer projections
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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:

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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