Ranking the 10 Best Gunners in College Basketball

Scott HenryFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2013

Ranking the 10 Best Gunners in College Basketball

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    College basketball has seen thousands of good three-point shooters since the line's national introduction in 1986.

    The best of the best, however, are the players who don't simply hoist a long shot at every opportunity. A truly great shooter knows how to make his opportunities count.

    The 10 shooters you'll read about here don't simply make a lot of shots because they take a ton of triples. They're also among the college game's most efficient at their craft.

    A shooter's volume is taken into account, via his number of threes made. His three-point percentage helps determine efficiency. A truly prolific gunner gets the vast majority of his points from outside the arc, so that statistic goes into the mix as well.

    Finally, a player's usage ratethe percentage of each player's team's possessions that he ends via basket, turnover or missed shotdetermines how much opportunity each man's coach allows him to shoot the rock.

    Of course, there are countless other players who very easily qualify as reliable gunners, so feel free to suggest some. We're a highly cultured lot here at B/R, so I have no doubts that you will all be capable of doing so in a polite, civilized, cultured manner with plenty of statistical evidence to back up your choices.

    Once we're all done laughing, we can get started with No. 10.


    All statistics through games of January 16

10. Tyrus McGee, Iowa State

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    As many long shots as Iowa State senior Tyrus McGee likes to hoist, one would think that Getty or Presswire could capture one in a picture. Alas, no, but take our word for it, McGee shoots it whenever he's in the mood.

    And like Glenn Miller, he's nearly always in the mood. (Kids, ask your grandparents.)

    Shooting 46 percent from deep so far this season, McGee has taken fewer than five triples in only four games. He hurls them up at an impressive rate for a guy who only plays 23 minutes a night.

    Against Texas, McGee took eight and made four en route to a 15-point night and did it in only 17 minutes. He has only started two of his 50 games in an ISU uniform, making him a guy who can distract a defense simply by coming to the scorer's table.

    If an opposing player seems slightly heavy-footed on defense, coach Fred Hoiberg (a fair shooter in his own day) can send McGee into the game with instructions to exploit that matchup to the fullest.

9. Ian Clark, Belmont

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    Belmont joined the Ohio Valley Conference this season after more than a decade of running roughshod over the Atlantic Sun. Senior guard Ian Clark won several individual awards in the old league and now appears poised to add an OVC Player of the Year award if he continues his current pace.

    Clark ranks ninth in America with 58 three-pointers made, and he's only needed 119 attempts to hit those. His .487 shooting percentage from deep is also in the top 10 nationwide.

    Clark's 18.8 points per game currently ranks third in the OVC, but there is no one in the conference even close to his offensive efficiency. His .722 true shooting percentage and .712 effective FG percentage place second and third in the nation, respectively.

    Over the Bruins' past three games, Clark has shot a sizzling 30-of-38 (79 percent), including 14-of-21 from behind the arc. Earlier this season, he torched VCU's vaunted "Havoc" defense for 24 points on perfect 10-of-10 form.

    The moral of the story is that Ian Clark will score on you from anywhere at any time. Get used to it.

8. Nik Stauskas, Michigan

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    Another member of the 50-percent bombers' club, Michigan's Nik Stauskas isn't the grizzled veteran that Jordan Hulls is. The freshman shot a sizzling 56 percent from long range in his first 13 collegiate games.

    Unfortunately for Wolverine fans, the Canadian cannon has misfired a bit more often in his first few conference games. He's hit 7-of-22 from behind the arc (32 percent) in Michigan's first four conference matchups.

    Ohio State took him completely out of the game on Sunday, handing the maize and blue its first loss of the season and pitching Stauskas his first career shutout. He hadn't scored in single figures since his debut against Slippery Rock.

    While he's been hit with a bit of cold, hard reality since Big Ten play began, Stauskas is still a major focus of any opponent's scouting report. He's hovering near the top 20 nationally in both eFG percentage and TS percentage to go with the aforementioned .505 success rate on his triples.

    Don't be surprised if that donut he took against the Buckeyes is the last of Stauskas' career.

7. Jordan Hulls, Indiana

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    There are a half-dozen players in college basketball who have made more triples than they've missed this season. The leader of the pack is Indiana sniper Jordan Hulls.

    At almost 52 percent from long range, Hulls leads the nation in long-range efficiency, getting nearly two-thirds of his points from the outside.

    Wisconsin put the shackles on Hulls in its impressive victory at Assembly Hall Tuesday night, allowing him only one three-point attempt, a miss. That was only the third time this season Hulls has failed to knock down a three, and it was only the fourth night this season that he's shot less than 50 percent from distance in a game.

    Hulls also ranks in the nation's top 20 in both eFG percentage and TS percentage, reminding opponents that they can't sleep on him when he's inside the arc, either. A hand must be kept in his face at all times, lest the opposing coach keep a hand in his own face.

6. Sean Armand, Iona

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    No player had ever drained 10 three-pointers in one game at Madison Square Garden until Sean Armand dropped 32 points on Siena last January.

    He nearly equaled the feat last weekend when he hit 9-of-15 from deep on his way to another 32-point night, this one against Canisius.

    Armand and backcourt mate Lamont "Momo" Jones are the highest-scoring guard pair in America, combining for 40.9 PPG. Armand has slightly diversified his game from the player who got more than 75 percent of his points from threes last season, but his current 63 percent says he's not about to become a full-time slasher any time soon.

    Fifth in the country with 68 made threes, Armand has already had five games of five-plus makes. With Armand playing 35 minutes a night at Iona's frenetic tempo, shots will always be plentiful for the Gaels' mad bomber.

5. Jeff Elorriaga, Boise State

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    For those seeking the truly dedicated gunner, the shooter with an allergic reaction to any area within 21 feet of the basket, we give you Boise State's Jeff Elorriaga.

    The junior from Portland gets an amazing 86.8 percent of his points off of three-point shots, the second-highest rate in America (we'll meet the leader in a slide or two). He's only attempted 20 two-point shots this season, making nine for a 45 percent success rate.

    By contrast, he knocks down 49.1 percent of his threes, the seventh-best percentage in the nation. None were bigger than last week's buzzer-beater to topple Mountain West rival Wyoming from the ranks of the undefeated.

    Elorriaga is a bit of a silent assassin, as he's third on the Broncos in scoring despite playing three more minutes per game than top producers Derrick Marks and Anthony Drmic. He only uses 13 percent of the Broncos' possessions while he's on the court, but as Wyoming found out, he makes them count.

4. Ryan Sypkens, UC Davis

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    Ryan Sypkens played in only four games as a junior last year before suffering a knee injury that ended his season. One would be forgiven for expecting that his arm fell off, as he found time to put up 37 three-point shots in those four outings.

    Sypkens is not quite at such a rate this year, but he has hoisted 113 threes in his 15 games, a rate of about 7.5 a night. He's taken more than 10 three-pointers for every free throw, showing you exactly how often he ventures into the lane.

    Sypkens is in the top 11 nationally in both three-pointers made (55) and three-point percentage (.487), so he's a threat that must always be accounted for.

    He came close to leading the Aggies to a win over Nevada by making eight three-pointers, the last of which gave UCD a one-point lead with 13 seconds remaining. A Deonte Burton basket ended the upset dream, but Sypkens still finished with 24 points on the night.

3. Rotnei Clarke, Butler

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    A career 43-percent shooter from deep, Rotnei Clarke was expected to remedy the shooting woes that kept Butler out of last season's NCAA tournament. On several nights, he's done just that.

    Witness the 6-of-9 long-range effort in the pictured game against Vanderbilt. Then, last week, he dropped 6-of-10 on St. Joseph's, scoring 28 points in the Bulldogs' Atlantic 10 debut.

    In other games, though, Clarke's results have been somewhat ugly. His second game as a Bulldog was a 1-of-7 effort in a loss to Xavier. Back-to-back games in January saw him make a combined 2-of-15 in wins over Penn and New Orleans.

    Still, Clarke is currently in the top 40 nationwide in three-point percentage and top 12 in both makes and attempts. And that's with missing all but five minutes of Butler's last two games after suffering a neck injury in a headfirst tumble into the basket support at Dayton.

    Rest assured that when Clarke returns to coach Brad Stevens' lineup, he'll come up firing.

2. Parker Smith, North Florida

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    Unlike many of our other shooting stars, North Florida's Parker Smith isn't averse to taking some contact. He's attempted 45 free throws already this season, a number that players like Elorriaga and Sypkens may not reach by March.

    That hasn't stopped Smith from hoisting 163 triples (fifth-most in America) and making a nation-leading 76. In six of his last seven games, Smith has attempted nine or more shots from range, making 35 of his 68 tries in that span.

    Early in the season, the Ospreys traveled to big guns like Memphis, Kansas State and Florida State, ostensibly to collect beatings for hire. Smith drained a combined 10-of-22 in those games, helping UNF hang within five points of the Seminoles in the last two minutes.

    Smith is one of only three players on this slideshowRotnei Clarke and Ian Clark being the otherswho leads his team in scoring, meaning he's more than a mere complementary piece who's easily forgotten while someone else does work.

    Even though the defense knows what's coming, though, stopping it can often be another matter.

1. Troy Daniels, VCU

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    Ninety-one percent. That's the portion of Troy Daniels' points that have come from behind the arc this season. Needless to say, that percentage leads the nation.

    As a sophomore in 2010-11, all but one of his points came from threes, but that was a season in which he averaged 2.1 PPG. As a 13.5-PPG man this season, Daniels has a bit larger sample size to work with.

    Volume is the name of Daniels' game, as he sits in the top six in the nation in both makes and attempts.

    No shooter in the country had a better holiday season than Daniels did over Christmas and New Year's. He went absolutely berserk in wins over Longwood, Fairleigh Dickinson and East Tennessee State, scoring a combined 85 points and making 27-of-49 from three.

    Daniels hammered in 11 long ones against ETSU, the first player since 2009 to make that many in one game. That set the school record, which Daniels established with nine against FDU four days prior.

    That's not exactly Battle 4 Atlantis-caliber competition, but still, stroking is stroking. Coach Shaka Smart trusts Daniels implicitly, calling him "the best shooter I've ever coached."

    If VCU needs a big jumper to launch another deep March run, expect Daniels to be the one pulling the trigger.


    For more from Scott on college basketball nationwide, check out The Back Iron (now on CollegeBasketballTalk's #NBCMustFollow College Hoop Directory).