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Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | December 28, 2021

We found the best men's basketball 3-point shooters who take the fewest 2-point shots

Predicting which of the 7 remaining undefeated basketball teams will finish with the best record

Recently, I detailed how men's college basketball shot selections are becoming more uniform across the sport, with more teams attempting more 3-pointers and shots at the rim compared to a decade ago, and now I wanted to know, who are the best 3-point shooters who take the fewest twos?

Based on their individual skill sets and roles for their respective teams, what players almost exclusively attempt 3-point shots and make a high percentage or a high volume of them?

I analyzed the individual statistics from all 358 Division I teams to find out.

Here are the parameters I used. Using each player's stats through games played on Dec. 22, 2021, players must have taken at least 50 percent of their shots from 3-point range and averaged at least one made 3-pointer per game to be eligible.

In order to limit the pool of players who fit this criteria, I didn't round up — there are 5,637 players in DI men's basketball, including players who are redshirting or who are injured — so a 50-percent 3-point attempt percentage means 50 percent, not 49.7 percent, and a player who averages 0.96 made 3-pointers per game would fall below the cut line.

In order to quantify my search for the best 3-point shooters who take the fewest twos, I created the THRILL score, which stands for Three-point Hunting Rating Involving Lots of Launches.

Here's how it's calculated.

THRILL score = 3-pointers made per game x 3-point percentage x 3-point attempt percentage

The goal was to "reward" players who, a) make a lot of threes, b) make a high percentage of threes, and c) attempt a high percentage of threes, and that's what the THRILL score does. Below is the complete THRILL score leaderboard, based on the players who fit the criteria through games played on Dec. 22, 2021.

Here are the top players in THRILL score

Based on our inaugural THRILL score calculations, a THRILL score above 1.00 is impressive, as only 31 of the 689 players on the leaderboard reached that threshold.

Just seven players have a THRILL score of at least 1.20.

Here are the top three players in THRILL score.

1. Riley Miller, St. Thomas | 1.67 THRILL score

St. Thomas is the newest DI newcomer, as the Tommies made the leap from the Division III level to join the Summit League. Through our cutoff date of Dec. 22, 2021, they're 6-7 this season with a 1-1 record in conference play and while St. Thomas' defense has struggled in its DI transition (the Tommies currently rank 357th in defensive efficiency, per kenpom.com), the team's offense has seemed to adapt just fine. The Tommies are 87th nationally in offensive efficiency and No. 2 in Summit League play, through their first two conference games.

Miller, a 6-3 senior, is a major reason why. He ranks 49th nationally in offensive rating, per Ken Pomeroy's metrics, as he's averaging roughly 1.31 points during each possession that ends in Miller making a shot, missing a shot that's rebounded by the defense or committing a turnover.

He's leading the team in scoring at 18.2 points per game and on average, 14.1 of those points come from behind the arc, which is why Miller sits atop the THRILL score leaderboard. Eighty-five percent of his shot attempts are threes — that's 10.2 3-point attempts per game compared to just 1.7 2-point attempts — and he's making 43.8 percent of his shots from behind the arc.

Miller's teammate, Ryan Lindberg, ranks 11th in THRILL score, with a score of 1.15.

2. Keller Boothby, Cornell | 1.65 THRILL score

Boothby is exactly the type of player that I was looking for when creating the THRILL score. Through the first month and a half of the season, he's in the top percentile in both 3-point percentage (60.5 percent) and 3-point attempt percentage (95 percent).

This is Boothby's first season competing at the DI level after the Ivy League canceled play for the 2020-21 season and now the 6-7 forward is off to a tremendous start to his college career, as he's leading the nation with an offensive rating of 153.8, per kenpom.com. That means that, on average, when Boothby ends a possession (with a made shot, a missed shot that leads to a defensive rebound or a turnover), Cornell leaves with a point and a half. Not bad.

Thirty-eight of his 40 shot attempts this season have been 3-pointers and he has made 23 of the 38, which gives him the country's best 3-point percentage of 60.5 percent.

After going 0-for-3 from 3-point range in his college debut, he has made at least one three in the seven games since, including a 7-for-9 3-point shooting performance against Coppin State and a 5-for-8 mark against St. Francis (PA).

3. Kaiden Rice, Georgetown | 1.58 THRILL score

Rice, Georgetown's 6-7 senior who transferred from The Citadel in the offseason, stands out because he's the highest-ranking player whose school competes in what is traditionally a multi-bid conference, in regards to the NCAA tournament.

The player from a multi-bid conference with the next-highest THRILL score is Missouri State's Jaylen Minnett (1.17, 10th overall).

Rice is the Hoyas' second-leading scorer at 14.5 points per game and get this, he has taken 101 3-pointers this season compared to just 16 shots inside the arc, meaning 86 percent of his attempts have been from 3-point range. But you can't argue with the results. He's shooting 42.6 percent from deep and just 37.5 percent from 2-point range.

While The Citadel lost Rice in the offseason, the Bulldogs do have a player in the top 10 of THRILL score this season, as freshman Jason Roche has made 28-of-71 3-point attempts and just 1-of-6 2-point attempts, giving him a THRILL score of 1.27 that's good for sixth nationally.

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These players have only attempted, or made, 3-pointers

In the modern era of the sport, it's not unusual for a men's basketball team to attempt more than 85 percent of its shots from behind the arc or at the rim. For example, during the 2019-20 campaign, which was last completed regular season in which there was normal fan attendance, Western Carolina attempted a national-high 89 percent of its shots from 3-point range or at the rim.

Yes, that's a high percentage, but just wait until you see how reliant some individual players are on the three.

Did you know that Lehigh's Jake Betlow has only attempted 3-pointers this year? The Mountain Hawks' eighth-leading scorer (Betlow averages 3.9 points per game) has played 81 minutes this season, attempted 23 3-pointers and zero two-point shots.

Among the 689 players who fit the search criteria (averaging at least one made 3-pointer per game and attempting at least 50 percent of their shots from 3-point range), Betlow led the group with a 100-percent 3-point attempt percentage. Ironically, Lehigh's defense allows the lowest 3-point attempt percentage in the country, per Ken Pomeroy, as just 24.4 percent of opponents' shots this season have been 3-pointers. So the Mountain Hawks limit 3-point attempts better than any team in the country, while having a rotation player who has literally only taken threes this season.

However, even though Betlow is a 39-percent 3-point shooter, which is nearly six percentage points above the national average, he's only averaging 1.29 made 3-pointers per game, which gives him a THRILL score of exactly 0.50, or tied for 193rd among the players examined.

Betlow certainly fits the spirit of our search for the best 3-point shooters who take the fewest — or in Betlow's case, no — 2-point shots, but the THRILL score also rewards players who shoot even better from deep or who average more than one made three per game.

While Betlow was the only rotation player examined to have a 100-percent 3-point attempt percentage, Sacramento State's William FitzPatrick and Wagner's Nigel Jackson each deserve a shoutout because the two players have yet to make a 2-point shot this season.

FitzPatrick is shooting 16-for-43 from 3-point range, or 37.2 percent, and 0-for-10 inside the arc through seven games.

Through five games, Jackson has made 8-of-26 3-point attempts, or 30.8 percent, while he has missed all four of his 2-point shots. The THRILL scores for FitzPatrick (0.69) and Jackson (0.43) aren't among the national leaders, but the locations of their made shots this season are an anomaly and deserve recognition.

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Here's how the THRILL score leaderboard looks on a scatter plot

I took the 689 players from the THRILL score leaderboard and placed them on a scatter plot, where the x-axis represents 3-point attempt percentage and the y-axis represents 3-point percentage. The size and color of an individual player's dot represents 3-pointers made per game.

You'll notice Cornell's Keller Boothby in the upper righthand corner, thanks to his 95-percent 3-point attempt percentage and 60-percent 3-point percentage. Lehigh's Jake Betlow is represented by the rightmost dot, thanks to his 100-percent 3-point attempt percentage.

The top 25 players in terms of THRILL score are labeled on the scatter plot along with their respective score.

THRILL score chart.

You can click or tap here to view an interactive version of the scatter plot.

You'll notice the players with the highest THRILL scores who casual college basketball fans are most likely to recognize — players such as Houston's Marcus Sasser (who's unfortunately out for the remainder of the season), Illinois' Alfonso Plummer, Oral Roberts' Max Abmas, Detroit's Antoine Davis and Ohio State's Justin Ahrens — have THRILL scores that are just above 1.00. Given their schools' conference affiliation and/or their roles on their respective teams, it'd be incredibly difficult for these players to have a higher THRILL score.

All of them are very good 3-point shooters, with 3-point percentages between 39 and 45 percent, but it's early enough in the season that there are role players who are shooting well above 50 percent from three, which gives them a higher THRILL score.

Abmas and Davis — two of the country's top 10 scorers — are each averaging more than four made 3-pointers per game, but 42 percent of their shots come from 2-point range, given how often the ball is in each player's hands and how many shots each player takes.

Fifty-eight of Ahrens' 60 shots so far this season have been 3-pointers — the second-highest percentage of the 689 players examined, behind only Lehigh's Jake Betlow — but Ahrens' average of 2.5 made 3-pointers per game still lags behind higher-volume 3-point shooters.

The top players in THRILL score are elite specialists and so far this season, they're headlined by a player who's new to Division I (St. Thomas' Miller), a player who's new to college basketball (Cornell's Boothby) and a player who's new to his school (Georgetown's Rice), which is fitting for a brand-new metric.

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