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Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | October 11, 2018

The most efficient college basketball players who didn't attempt a single three-pointer last season

Bob Donnan | USA Today Sports Images Kansas center Udoka Azubuike dunks against Michigan in the Final Four

We're in the midst of a three-point boom in basketball, and the college ranks are no exception. College basketball teams are taking, and making, three-pointers at an increasing rate. Here's the proof.

In the last six seasons, the number of Division I teams that shot at least 40 percent from three-point range increased from five to 2013 to six in 2014 to 10 in 2015 and 2016 to 15 in 2017 and then to 18 last season. Meanwhile, the number of teams that have attempted at least 800 three-pointers in a season has increased nearly tenfold during that same time span, increasing from nine teams in 2013 to 82 in the 2018 season. (There's nothing particularly significant about the 800 three-point attempt cutoff, we could have just as easily chosen 700, 900 or any other mark to prove our point.)

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However, despite the increasing prevalence and accuracy of three-pointers in the college game, there are still traditional big men who are incredibly efficient on offense without having an outside shot. We set out to find the players who didn't take a single three-pointer during the 2017-18 season.

Here are the most efficient returning Division I college basketball players who didn't shoot any threes last season.

De'Quon Lake, Arizona State

Height/weight: 6-10, 225 pounds

Position: Forward

Offensive rating: 138.3 (1st nationally)

FG-FGA: 91-128 (71.1%)

Lake had the best offensive rating in the country last season, among the 2,152 players who qualified on kenpom.com, despite not attempting a single three and shooting just 66.2 percent from the free throw line. The reserve forward shot 71 percent from the field on four attempts per game, averaging 7.2 points per contest – the sixth-best average on the team.

Arizona State graduated its top three scorers from last season – starters Tra Holder, Shannon Evans and Kodi Justice – which means there's an opportunity for Lake to shoulder a heavier load offensively but it could come at a cost in terms of his incredible efficiency.

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Matt Heldt, Marquette

Height/weight: 6-10, 240 pounds

Position: Center

Offensive rating: 138.2 (2nd nationally)

FG-FGA: 55-85 (64.7%)

Marquette has three players last season who averaged more than five three-point attempts per game and made more than 40 percent of their outside shots, so the Golden Eagles were able to stretch the floor without needing starting center Matt Heldt to shoot three-pointers.

Heldt played 21.9 minutes per game and averaged 3.9 points as a junior. Almost 65 percent of his shots came at the rim, where he shot 67.3 percent.

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Paul Atkinson, Yale

Height/weight: 6-10, 220 pounds

Position: Forward

Offensive rating: 125.8 (36th nationally)

FG-FGA: 110-159 (69.2%)

Yale's Paul Atkinson set a high bar for himself during his freshman campaign as he ranked in the top six nationally in both effective field goal percentage (68.9%) and true shooting percentage (69.4%). That's what happens when you shoot 69.2 percent from the field and lead your team in free throw attempts on the season.

James Thompson IV, Eastern Michigan

Height/weight: 6-10, 241 pounds

Position: Forward/center

Offensive rating: 123.8 (59th nationally)

FG-FGA: 201-299 (67.2%)

James Thompson IV was the only player to start in all 35 of Eastern Michigan's games last season and he played more than 34 minutes per contest, but he never attempted a three. He was the Eagles' third option on offense but he was by far the most efficient player on the team as he made 67 percent of his 8.5 field goal attempts per game.

Thompson also got to the free throw line with regularity, averaging a team-best 4.9 attempts per game.

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Charles LeClaire | USA TODAY Sports Images Alabama's Donta Hall dunks against Virginia Tech

Donta Hall, Alabama

Height/weight: 6-9, 230 pounds

Position: Forward

Offensive rating: 123.7 (61st nationally)

FG-FGA: 151-208 (72.6%)

Everyone on Alabama's roster last season played a secondary role on offense alongside former Crimson Tide guard Collin Sexton, who had a 32.8 percent usage rate (meaning roughly a third of the team's possessions ended with Sexton making shot, missing a shot rebounded by the defense or turning the ball over)  – a mark that ranked 12th in the country. But Hall thrived in his supporting role, making 72.6 percent of his shots to average a career-best 10.6 points per game.

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Mattias Markusson, Loyola Marymount

Height/weight: 7-3, 261 pounds

Position: Center

Offensive rating: 122.9 (75th nationally)

FG-FGA: 118-190 (62.1%)

It should not come as a surprise that a 7-3 big man is efficient in the paint. While Markusson is curiously listed as a guard on Loyola Marymount's roster, the junior from Sweden is coming off of a sophomore campaign in which he ranked in the top five in West Coast Conference play in offensive rating, two-point percentage, effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage and turnover rate.

Markusson closed the season on a high note, reaching double figures in five of Loyola Marymount's last seven games, including scoring 17 and 19 points in back-to-back road games at San Francisco and Santa Clara, respectively. He averaged 8.6 points per game on the season.

Rick Osentoski | USA TODAY Sports Images Jacksonville's Jalyn Hinton shoots against Michigan

Jalyn Hinton, Jacksonville

Height/weight: 6-5, 195 pounds

Position: Guard

Offensive rating: 121.9 (96th nationally)

FG-FGA: 119-180 (66.1%)

If we ignore Loyola Marymount listing the 7-3 Markusson as a guard, Hinton is the only guard on this list. Despite being 6-5, his shot chart from his freshman season would show field goal attempts exclusively inside the arc.

He was the Dolphins' fourth-leading scorer at nine points per game as a regular rotation player who moved into a starting role from late December to early February. Hinton's teammates JD Notae and Jace Hogan each took more than 30 percent of the team's shots when they were on the floor, putting Hinton in a complementary scoring role where he made 66.1 percent of his 5.6 field goal attempts per game.

Bob Donnan | USA Today Sports Images Kansas center Udoka Azubuike dunks against Villanova in the Final Four

Udoka Azubuike, Kansas

Height/weight: 7-0, 270 pounds

Position: Center

Offensive rating: 121.0 (121st nationally)

FG-FGA: 211-274 (77.0%)

As a redshirt freshman, Udoka Azubuike led the country with a 77 percent field goal percentage. That's because 214 of his shots, or 78 percent of his offense, were at the rim, meaning layups or dunks.

Flanked by a quartet of dangerous three-point shooters – Devonte' Graham, Malik Newman, Svi Mykhailiuk and Lagerald Vick – Azubuike had room to operate inside the paint last season, where his 7-foot, nearly 300-pound frame is tough to contain. He needed just 7.6 shots per game to average 13 points, good for the fourth-best average on the Jayhawks, but he still managed seven 20-point games on the season.

Bob Donnan | USA Today Sports Images Loyola Chicago's Cameron Krutwig shoots over Michigan's Moritz Wagner

Cameron Krutwig, Loyola Chicago

Height/weight: 6-9, 260 pounds

Position: Center

Offensive rating: 118.0 (221st nationally)

FG-FGA: 158-264 (59.8%)

You might recognize Krutwig's name or his game from Loyola Chicago's Final Four run last season, where the true freshman was the Ramblers' starting center and their only rotation player taller than 6-6.

He averaged 10.5 points per game in Loyola Chicago's balanced offensive attack that saw five players average double figures. Krutwig shot nearly 60 percent from the field and 73.5 percent from the free throw line, a respectable mark for a freshman center.

_________________

Here are some other notable returning players who just missed the cut either due to their efficiency or because they attempted a three-pointer last season. In many cases, these shots came in desperation at the end of the shot clock or game clock and not within the flow of the offense.

Kyle Alexander, Tennessee

Offensive rating: 130.7

Three-point shooting: 1-1

Trayvon Reed, Texas Southern

Offensive rating: 124.5

Three-point shooting: 1-9

Deivydas Kuzavas, St. Francis (PA)

Offensive rating: 123.3

Three-point shooting: 0-1

Kaleb Wesson, Ohio State

Offensive rating: 123.2

Three-point shooting: 4-14

Rob Marberry, Lipscomb

Offensive rating: 121.4

Three-point shooting: 0-2

Trey Porter, Nevada

Offensive rating: 118.7

Three-point shooting: 1-1

Mike Watkins, Penn State

Offensive rating: 118.3

Three-point shooting: 0-1

Nick Ward, Michigan State

Offensive rating: 116.8

Three-point shooting: 1-1

Noah Dickerson, Washington

Offensive rating: 116.4

Three-point shooting: 2-5

Devontae Cacok, UNC Wilmington

Offensive rating: 114.1

Three-point shooting: 0-0

Max Mahoney, Boston University

Offensive rating: 109.3

Three-point shooting: 0-0

Anthony Green, Northeastern

Offensive rating: 108.7

Three-point shooting: 0-0

Ethan Happ, Wisconsin

Offensive rating: 105.1

Three-point shooting: 1-11

Stats courtesy of kenpom.com, sports-reference.com and hoop-math.com.