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

SI projections put Gonzaga's Kyle Wiltjer as the top scorer in the country, with Ole Miss's Stefan Moody, Oklahoma's Buddy Hield and Rhode Island's E.C. Mathews also appearing in the top 10.
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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 DanHannerand 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; andintelfrom 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 isour 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.