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Daniel Wilco | | October 13, 2018

College basketball's 5 best returning scorers

High Five: Best Basketball Coaches

This year, five of the top 10 scorers in Division I basketball last season return to their teams for a follow-up campaign. Four of them are seniors, one just a sophomore.

Let’s take a look at each:

5. Jon Elmore — Marshall

USA Today Sports Images Jon-Elmore

2017-18 PPG: 22.7 (9th place)
Current year: Senior

Elmore hit the national stage last year when he dropped 27 points in Marshall’s first-round upset of Wichita State in the NCAA tournament — the Herd’s first NCAA tournament win. That performance wasn’t a fluke.

The junior had scored in double figures every game of the season, and led the C-USA in scoring and assists (6.8 per game). Elmore has increased his scoring average steadily since putting up 15.2 per game his freshman year, but even if he just maintains last year’s clip, the Herd will have a good chance of going to back-to-back tournaments for the first time since the 1983-84 and 1984-85 seasons.

4. RJ Cole — Howard

USA Today Sports Images RJ Cole

2017-18 PPG: 23.7 (7th place)
Current year: Sophomore

Last year, four freshmen averaged 20 points or more — Trae Young, Marvin Bagley III, Deandre Ayton, and RJ Cole. Not bad company. Cole is the only player on this list who isn’t a senior this season. The guard averaged 6.1 assists and 3.3 3-pointers on 35.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc, and scored 25 points or more 15 times during the regular season, but his Howard team finished 10-23, in 8th place in the MEAC and lost in the first round of the conference tournament. The Bison haven’t made the NCAA tournament since 1992, but with a young talent like Cole, there’s plenty of firepower to turn that around.

3. Mike Daum — South Dakota State

USA Today Sports Images Mike Daum

2017-18 PPG: 23.9 (6th place)
Current year: Senior

After a two-year hiatus, South Dakota State has now made the NCAA tournament in three straight years, and there’s no question that Daum is a large reason why. As a freshman, the 6-9 forward led the team with 15.2 points and added 6.1 rebounds per game, and he’s only gotten better.

His junior year saw 23.9 points and 10.3 rebounds per game — both the best in the Summit League. Daum also led the conference in 3-point field goals and 3-point field goal percentage, knocking down almost three per game while shooting 42.5 percent from beyond the arc. With as good a season as he had last year — earning him an AP All-American honorable mention — it’ll be hard for Daum to top himself, but don’t be surprised to see the Jackrabbits win the conference for the fourth straight year, something that hasn’t been done in the Summit League since Valparaiso’s six-year run in what was the Mid-Continent Conference from 1995-2000.

2. Justin Wright-Foreman — Hofstra

USA Today Sports Images Justin Wright-Foreman

2017-18 PPG: 24.4 (5th place)
Current year: Senior

Wright-Foreman was the CAA player of the year and an AP All-American honorable mention in 2018 after averaging 24.4 points, 3.2 assists, and 3.3. rebounds. The 6-foot shooting guard has increased his scoring considerably each offseason, helping Hofstra rebound from a 15-17 year in 2016-17 to a 19-12 record last season, but the Pride were 12-6 in conference play and dipped out of the tournament in the quarterfinals.

1. Chris Clemons — Campbell

USA Today Sports Images Chris Clemons

2017-18 PPG: 24.9 (4th place)
Current year: Senior

Last March, Clemons became Campbell’s all-time leading scorer with his 2,156th point in just 95 games. The 5-9 guard has scored double digits in 82 straight games, which is the longest active streak in Division I, and though he tested the waters with the NBA Draft in the offseason, he decided to return for his senior season.

Camels fans should be ecstatic about this one. Though Clemons’ points per game dropped 0.2 between his sophomore and junior years, the guard became more efficient in his third season. Clemons took two fewer shots per game while increasing his FG percentage. But the Camels haven’t made the NCAA tournament since 1992 — their only appearance in program history. With Clemons at the helm, the Camels are riding back-to-back .500 seasons for the first time since 1989-1990, and only the second time ever. If anyone can take them back to the Dance, it’s Clemons.

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