Shooting is the most valuable skill a player can have in the basketball ecosystem we live in.Why? For starters, three is worth more than two. Duh. But there’s much more to it. The mere threat of the 3-point shot opens up driving lanes for slashers, gives post players room to operate and makes the defense guard much more real estate than it would have had to otherwise. Slot four shooters into your lineup at the same time, and you’re golden. Five? You rarely (if ever) see it on any level of basketball.
That’s why it’s fun to concoct fake teams, like we will below. Here are the best shooters at their respective positions in college basketball.
PG: London Perrantes, Virginia
Perrantes is living proof of what an offseason spent in the gym can do for a player.
As a sophomore in 2014-15, the Virginia floor general shot 31.6 percent from 3-point range. As a junior, that percentage skyrocketed to 48.8. Perrantes was a one-man zone buster last season; before Virginia’s late collapse against Syracuse in the Elite Eight, the Cavalier point guard propelled his team ahead with shots like these:
Perrantes’ icy sophomore season was likely an anomaly. As a freshman, he shot 43.7 percent from 3-point distance. Perrantes is an outstanding shooter, but open looks might be more scarce this season without Malcolm Brodgon and Anthony Gill in the fold. Those guys had gravity (albeit for differing reasons); Perrantes was not high on defenses’ priority lists a year ago. That will change in 2016-17. His percentages will likely dip a bit this season based on shot difficulty, but his makes and attempts will increase substantially.
SG: Giddy Potts, Middle Tennessee State
Michigan State fans, feel free to skip to the next position. Potts had 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting in the Blue Raiders’ upset over the Spartans in the opening round of the 2016 NCAA tournament, and he delivered dagger after dagger when it mattered most.
As it turns out, Potts had been doing that all season long. It just took a bigger stage for America to notice. A legitimate team captain candidate on next year’s all-name team, Potts snags the shooting guard spot on our all-shooting squad thanks to his precision from 3-point range.
As a sophomore, the Athens, Ala., native shot a scorching 50.6 percent from beyond the arc on 5.6 attempts per game. When high volume meets high efficiency, you’re dealing with a special shooter. Potts was a beacon of consistency last season. He canned three 3’s or more on 16 different occasions, and he was the biggest reason why Middle Tennessee State was so hard to guard in 2015-16.
SF Matthew Fisher-Davis, Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt made no sense last season. It had NBA players at the point guard and center spots with shooters such as Luke Kornet, Riley LaChance and Fisher-Davis flanking them, and yet, the Commodores struggled to make the NCAA tournament.
Despite all of that, Fisher-Davis is an excellent marksman with impeccable form. He lets his stroke do the talking.
His shooting efficiency numbers are plenty loud, too. Fisher-Davis drained 44.6 percent of his 3’s on 5.5 attempts per game last season; Vandy lost Damian Jones and Wade Baldwin to the NBA, so Fisher-Davis could tack a few attempts onto to his per game average in 2016-17. Commodore fans will take that all day. Offensive trips ending in Fisher-Davis 3’s netted a robust 1.34 points per possession a year ago.
No. 5 in black and gold is a catch-and-shoot dynamo, and new head coach Bryce Drew isn’t shy about giving his players the green light from deep. Expect Fisher-Davis to have a breakout campaign in 2016-17.
PF: Kris Jenkins, Villanova
Jenkins isn’t as accurate as the other shooters on this team, but he’s still very potent from distance.
That shot will go down as one of the greatest in college basketball history. Jenkins was cold-blooded in that moment, and when the lights shined brightest, so did he.
He was also wide open. That’s not a knock on the shot at all. If anything, it illustrates how beneficial it is to have big men that can shoot. North Carolina wanted to have an interior defender at the rim to contest a Ryan Arcidiacono drive. That’s understandable in most cases; it’s not when a 39 percent 3-point shooter is trailing the play left unattended.
The Tar Heels had to guard a ton of space in order to stifle the Wildcats. They were unsuccessful, and as a result, they were toast. Jenkins is prone to jacking contested 3’s that may appear reckless at first glance, but even if they’re not the most profitable shot attempts, they keep defenses honest. ‘The Big Ticket’ will launch from anywhere, and he still hovers around 40 percent from 3-point land. That’s mightily impressive.
C: Alec Peters, Valparaiso
Peters elected to return to Valparaiso for his final season of eligibility, and Crusader fans have to be grinning from ear to ear.
An all-around force, Peters averaged 18.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game last season while connecting on 44 percent of his triples. At 6-9, 230 pounds, Peters is a matchup nightmare for opponents. Slot a big man on him, and he’ll drag a valuable rim protector out to the perimeter. Get cute and try a smaller guy on him, and Peters will use his strength to dominate in the post.
Peters’ best shooting season came as a sophomore, when he sank 46.6 percent of his 3’s on 5.2 attempts per game. There’s no telling what he’s capable of doing in his senior season.