NCAA Tournament 2013: 25 Sharpshooters You Must Know Heading into March Madness
As we continue the build-up to the 2013 NCAA tournament, there has been much ado about the demise of offense in college basketball.
Talks of control-freak coaches suffocating offensive flow with grinding, conservative offenses has become almost as big of a talking point as which Cinderella teams will make a big run. And, in a macro sense, people are right to be talking about the extinction of offensive explosion. It's something that needs to be changed sooner rather than later and is a cultural conversation far more important than whether Belmont can pull an upset.
Nevertheless, there is just one facet of that paradigm shift that has gone mostly unrecognized: Having top-notch shooters is more important than ever. Having fewer possessions puts a heightened emphasis on every single opportunity, so having plus shooters on the floor—especially beyond the arc—could shift the national championship picture.
In other words, even the nation's biggest schools are relying more heavily on classic mid-major strategy nowadays. Slowing the ball down, knocking down good shots and keeping possessions low is no longer what a 13-seed does to take down a 4-seed—it's what everyone does.
Luckily, while offense has gone down, the abundance of great dead-eye shooters has not. With that in mind, here is a complete breakdown of all the top shooters you need to know in the 2013 NCAA tournament.
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Doug McDermott (F, Creighton)
One of the nation's most prolific scorers in each of the past two seasons, Doug McDermott is a name known by every good college basketball fan. A sorcerer with the stroke, he's averaging 23.1 points per game, which ranks second in the nation behind Virginia Tech’s Erick Green.
With the Hokies nowhere near tournament contention this season, it’s very fair to say McDermott is the best scorer in the 2013 tourney—especially considering his efficiency from the field. The junior forward is knocking down 56.1 percent of his shots, including a 49.7 percent rate from beyond the arc.
Ken Pomeroy measures McDermott’s true shot percentage at 67.9 and his effective field-goal percentage at 63.7, ranking fourth and 13th in the nation, respectively.
As Creighton walks into the 2013 tournament with hopes high after a stellar run through the Missouri Valley Conference, McDermott will ultimately hold the key to that journey. Utter brilliance like he displayed all regular season long, and the Bluejays could do some damage.
However, if his performance stagnates a bit as it did in 2012, then making the second week will be a tall task.
Nate Wolters (G, South Dakota State)
Following an illustrious career that includes taking South Dakota State to its first two NCAA tournament bids, it’s safe to say Nate Wolters’ legacy is firmly cemented. The sharpshooting senior has led the team in points per game in each of the last three seasons and has gotten more efficient with every passing year.
In 2012-13, Wolters was once again among the nation’s best all-around players. He scored 22.7 points per game while dishing out 5.8 assists and grabbing 5.6 rebounds per game heading into the tournament.
More importantly, the Jackrabbits' star showed vast improvement with shot selection—especially beyond the arc. As a junior, Wolters knocked down just 44.8 percent of his field goals and 24.1 percent of his three-point attempts. Though still an all-around good player, he was more of a shot-jacker than what anyone was comfortable with.
Wolters came back as a senior and was vastly improved on that front. He is hitting 49.3 percent of his shots, which is a very solid overall mark. But Wolters’ true improvement came beyond the arc, where he upped his three-point percentage nearly 15 points to 39.0 percent.
South Dakota State has one-and-done written all over it, but Wolters has the ability to instantly shift that paradigm.
Ramon Galloway (G, La Salle)
If a scout finally got around to looking at La Salle—and in particular Ramon Galloway—in the team's last two games, he or she would probably wonder what all the fuss was about. The Explorers lost by a combined 35 points to conference rivals Butler and St. Louis, essentially placing themselves at the mercy of the selection committee and the incompetency of other bubble teams.
Galloway, the team’s star throughout the season, wasn’t much help. He shot a combined 4-of-22 in those two contests, missing all 11 three-point attempts while combining for just 12 points. It was a ghastly performance when Galloway’s team needed him most.
Luckily for La Salle and Galloway, there were 28 other games to impress this season—and impress they did. The Explorers finished 11-5 in the Atlantic 10, the nation’s most underappreciated conference, and Galloway was the shining beacon of light.
A transfer from South Carolina, Galloway has improved his scoring prowess in each season. As a senior in 2012-13, he’s averaging about 17-5-4 a night while knocking down a shade under 41 percent of his three-pointers. Though his volume-shooting ways have gotten him into a bit of hot water recently, Galloway has a 31-point game in a win over VCU and a 26-point night against Villanova.
While he hasn’t been particularly impressive lately, Galloway’s overall resume far overcomes any recent bias.
Jordan Hulls (G, Indiana)
Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo get much of the credit for Indiana’s success, and rightfully so. They are two of the 10 best players in the nation, dominant forces who will probably be NBA lottery picks come June.
However, behind every superstar, there is a group of role players who allow that guy to shine without getting any of the recognition. A senior, guard Jordan Hulls may be the quintessential star-helper. Not gifted with elite athleticism, speed or even the slickest of handles, Hulls is a hard-nosed player who excels in his role as a three-point specialist.
Scoring 10.4 points per game for the season, Hulls is knocking down a relatively unspectacular 46 percent of his shots. Not exactly what you would call a sharpshooter on the surface. But that middling overall percentage is mitigated by the fact that Hulls hits 46.4 percent of his three-pointers while taking 68.6 percent of his overall shots from distance.
Hulls’ ability to knock down three-pointers forces opposing defenses to respect him from that area, oftentimes keeping them from crashing down on Zeller or Oladipo in the paint. In turn, that keeps the floor spaced well and allows the Hoosiers’ athletes to shine offensively.
He may not get the recognition of his counterparts, but Hulls is an integral part of everything Indiana does.
Ian Clark (G, Belmont)
Making an appearance in their third consecutive NCAA tournament, the Belmont Bruins have become an in-vogue sleeper for many filling out their bracket. A No. 11, the Bruins will face off against a vulnerable Arizona squad that may well be ripe for the picking.
If Belmont is able to find its Cinderella slippers, Ian Clark will almost certainly be the man leading the charge. The senior guard has ascended to new heights in his final collegiate season, emerging from a vital cog in the Bruins’ attack in 2011-12 to the vital cog this season.
Drilling shots from all over the court, Clark heads into the March Madness festivities with a shooting percentage of 54.1—an astounding number for a guard.
And though most would assume Clark is a drive-and-finish style of player, the opposite is actually true. He has taken more than half of his shots beyond the arc this season, knocking down 46.3 percent en route to leading Belmont to a Ohio Valley Conference championship.
Nik Stauskas (G, Michigan)
When you share a backcourt with Trey Burke, it’s hard to get all that much recognition. But as a freshman, Nik Stauskas has carved himself a niche as a three-point specialist and secondary ball-handler, a role that will undoubtedly help him as his offensive responsibilities grow in Ann Arbor next season.
The Canadian import has been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week multiple times, was on the fringes of the Wayman Tisdale Award chase and has done a brilliant job of staying in his lane.
Heading into the Big Dance, Stauskas is averaging 11.5 points per game while making just a shade under 45 percent of his three-pointers. However, he struggled mightily from the field in the Wolverines' loss to Wisconsin, making just one of eight shots and missing each of his four attempts from beyond the arc.
Inconsistency is a familiar mistress for freshman, and not even a shooter as gifted as Stauskas is immune.
As Michigan looks to contend for a Final Four berth this season, Burke and Tim Hardaway jr. will need someone to help take the glaring defensive spotlight off them at times. Stauskas has been that man from the outside this season, and he will have to come up with a big shot one or two times for Michigan to reach its ultimate goal.
Malcolm Miller (G, Southern)
We all know Southern—and as a result, Malcolm Miller—won’t make it to the weekend. We can feign a false sense of optimism all we want, but Southern isn’t winning and Miller will likely be remembered as that plucky school from “where was that, again?” that could hang with the big boys.
Nevertheless, it would be wholly unfair to leave him off a “players to watch” list—especially among shooters. Miller, a junior college transfer in his first season at Southern, is right alongside Derick Beltran leading the Jaguars’ offensive charge.
But while Beltran is a hit-and-miss shooter who plays a bit too big for his britches, Miller is a sweet-stroking star in the making for next season. He averaged a 16-6 nightly average while making better than 50 percent of his shots overall and taking more than half of them beyond the arc, where he hit shots at a 46.1 percent rate.
If he gets hot and knocks down a few jumpers, it could be fun to watch for a bit before the inevitable fade.
Scott Wood (F, North Carolina State)
The interior presence of C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell has kept the Wolfpack afloat all season long. The duo of forwards head into the NCAA tournament averaging 27.6 points and 18.1 rebounds per game, leading N.C. State to an early ascent before faltering toward the end of the regular season.
For the Wolfpack to make any sort of noise during the tournament, they need outside shooting. They need a player who can help space the floor for their forward trio, a guy who defenses respect enough to stick with on the outside. In other words, they need Scott Wood to play up to his capabilities.
A senior forward, Wood has long been the team’s most vital outside force. Wood is averaging 12.7 points per game this season, getting right around nine points per game from beyond the arc. Of Wood’s 124 made field goals in 2012-13, 102 have been three-pointers.
While his percentages are very good—he’s a 44.3 percent shooter from beyond the arc—what’s most important is how he fits inside the N.C. State offense. Without a great performance from Wood in the tournament, the Wolfpack may be one and done.
Rotnei Clarke (G, Butler)
As Indiana learned in December, it’s nearly impossible to stop Rotnei Clarke when he catches fire. The Arkansas transfer led Butler to a shocking overtime victory over the then-No. 1 Hoosiers, knocking down five three-pointers and critical late-game buckets in what has been a season-defining victory.
The problem with Clarke is that he’s not been getting hot with much frequency of late. Since coming back from a scary neck and head injury suffered against Dayton in January, the senior guard has simply not been the same. He hasn’t made more than half of his shots in a game since Feb. 6, a downturn that has now has him making just 40.8 percent of his field goals.
Nevertheless, Butler will only go as far as Clark takes them. He scores nearly six points per game more than any other Bulldogs player and is still an exceedingly efficient outside scorer, knocking down 41.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Vital to Butler's hopes will be Clarke finding a way to knock those shots down consistently, as Butler will try to make its third Final Four in four seasons.
Seth Curry (G, Duke)
Following in his brother and father’s footsteps, young Seth Curry has emerged into one of the most widely respected and feared shooters in the nation. Slowly building his way to star status in Mike Krzyzewski's rotation, Curry is second behind Mason Plumlee on the Blue Devils in scoring at 17 points per game, knocking down by far the most three-pointers on the team.
What’s most notable about Curry’s style is his unpredictability. There are times, likely to the disdain of Coach K, that Curry will flash down the floor in an instant and pull up for a jumper—only to drill it in the face of whomever decided to guard him. There is and likely will never will be a lack of confidence in the Curry family.
Nor should there be, though. Curry is knocking down 43 percent of his shots from beyond the arc this season, a product of a jumper so beautiful it makes grown men cry. And considering you never know when Curry will drop nine points in a minute, teams have to account for him on every possession—even in games when he’s struggling.
Duke walks in as a favorite to cut down the nets once again this March. If they do, Curry will have had at least one game where his hot hand has spurred the final result.
Christian Watford (F, Indiana)
Christian Watford is widely regarded as one of the nation’s hardest workers. He’s a guy who never takes plays off, tries hard on both ends of the floor and has seemingly been a good teammate for each of his four seasons in Bloomington. The only problem is that he could never quite develop with his shot—until the 2012-13 campaign.
Building on the improvements he made as a junior, Watford emerged as one of the nation’s most reliable three-point threats this season. He’s making a stellar 49.1 percent from beyond the arc this season, a mark that’s shockingly better than his two-point percentage. Excelling in spot-up situations, Watford has been on the end of plenty Yogi Ferrell passes in the corner this season.
As with all efficient role players, Watford is efficient because he knows when to take shots. You’re not going to see Watford chuck up a 23-footer with 25 seconds remaining on the shot clock unless it’s open. He’s been through that phase, grown out of it and is a tantalizing talent to watch in his final games at Indiana.
Raymond Cintron (G, Middle Tennessee)
Playing on a team far better known for its defensive prowess than anything on the offensive end, Raymond Cintron is an underrated and vital cog to Middle Tennessee’s attack. A fully committed defender in Kermit Davis’ tenacious defensive system, Cintron also adds a dimension that many of his teammates lack: outside shooting.
The senior point guard is shooting 44 percent this season from distance and has made 70 three-pointers compared to just 19 buckets inside the arc. Considering Middle Tennessee gets just 22.6 percent of its points from beyond the arc, ranking 296th nationally, Cintron is not just taking on a role as a “good” shooter—he (along with Kerry Hammonds) is essentially their outside lifeblood.
Without Cintron shooting well, Middle Tennessee has a hard time spacing the floor. It’s a fact that cannot be corrected before the team’s first-four matchup versus St. Mary’s, but is something to look at going forward.
Ben McLemore (G, Kansas)
Kansas guard Ben McLemore is better known for being an all-around superstar and contender for the No. 1 overall pick than his prowess as a sharpshooting demon from beyond the arc. However, that doesn’t mean he is without skill from long range—far from that, actually.
The Jayhawks star is shooting 43.7 percent while taking king a team-high 4.6 shots per game from long distance. Kansas is not a three-happy team overall, ranking just 255th in the country at 16.4 attempts per game, so that amplifies McLemore’s importance from that range even more.
We already knew McLemore was one of the most vital individuals in this tournament, period. He and center Jeff Withey challenge Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo for the best one-two punch in the nation, especially from an inside-out perspective.
But McLemore and Travis Relaford are almost solely responsible for the Jayhawks’ outside production. Elijah Johnson would like to think he plays some part in helping that cause, but shooting 33.1 percent isn’t exactly what Bill Self would likely call “help.”
So not only is McLemore Kansas’ best player, he’s the guy the team will rely on most to create space inside for Withey. No pressure or anything, though.
Laurent Rivard (G, Harvard)
Ivy League schools don’t get to go through any of the conference postseason tournament hysterics, so it’s often easy for their players to fall through the cracks. And with this season’s conference winner, Harvard, coming in with a questionable overall resume, it’s even easier to blank on a few names.
That said, New Mexico will need to do plenty of scouting work on guard Laurant Rivard. The junior guard does not get the major recognition of leading scorer Wesley Saunders or even top distributor Siyani Chambers, but Rivard remains one of the most prolific dead-eye shooters in the nation.
Scoring 10.4 points per game, nearly everything Rivard does involves the three-point arc. He’s shooting 40.2 percent from distance, but that doesn’t cover the scope of his reliance on the three-ball. The most pertinent stat: Rivard has made just seven two-point shots all season long. No, that’s not a misprint. That’s one-tenth as many as he made during his first two seasons at Harvard.
While the Crimson are highly likely to wind up being a one-and-done team, any sign of Rivard heating up could spell trouble.
Cameron Ayers (G, Bucknell)
This spot ultimately came down to a battle between Cameron Ayers and Bryson Johnson. Both are equally adept for Bucknell beyond the three-point line, both shooting 40.3 percent from distance.
While Johnson takes more shots from beyond the arc, it’s Ayers’ consistency from other areas on the floor that gets him the nod here. Ayers has a 47.9 total field-goal percentage, while Johnson is more than seven points below that mark.
What’s more, Ayers also holds up exceedingly well metrically. Ken Pomeroy has Ayers with the second-best offensive rating in the Patriot League, where Johnson ranks fifth. It’s the thinnest of all margins—and perhaps both deserve mentioning among great shooters—but Ayers is the better overall shooter, and that gets him the tiebreaker here.
With the Bison likely in dire straits heading into their first-round tilt against Butler, the three-ball may be the only way they can keep up. Center Mike Muscala is the team’s star, but it may wind up falling on Ayers to carry the team in March.
Erik Murphy (F-C, Florida)
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better shooting big man in the country than Erik Murphy. A stretch power forward with the ability to play inside when Patric Young is on the bench, Murphy has consistently been an underrated cog in Billy Donovan’s lineup.
The senior is the team’s leading scorer despite taking the third-most shots on the team, which is a product of both his unselfishness and efficiency when choosing his shots. Murphy is knocking down 53.9 percent of his shots overall from the field, including 46.8 percent from beyond the arc,
To put it another way: Murphy has made three more three-point attempts than star guard Kenny Boynton...on 54 fewer attempts. There's a difference between being a prolific scorer and an efficient one. Murphy has been both this season.
With the Gators sometimes looking vulnerable down the stretch offensively, it will be up to Murphy to take a more aggressive approach. He’s fantastic in catch-and-shoot situations, particularly on the spot-up. So it’s up to Donovan to draw up plays that get Murphy into the corner in advantageous spots to make things happen.
If Murphy gets the opportunity, all indications point to the ball falling and Florida making it easily into the second week.
Ryan Kelly (F, Duke)
Perhaps the biggest reason Murphy isn’t unarguably the best shooting forward in college basketball is because, well, Ryan Kelly exists. Kelly, who should be called “the savior” in Durham if he isn’t already, has been nothing short of fantastic when on the floor this season.
Showing an adept ability to knock down shots from literally anywhere, the senior forward is averaging 14.3 points per game on 48 percent shooting. What’s awe-inspiring is Kelly’s ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc. He’s nailing 48.6 percent of his shots from distance this season, somehow emerging as the most consistent shooter on a team that includes Seth Curry.
And while he spent 13 games out of the lineup this season due to injury, Kelly hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down since he returned. Kelly infamously scored a career-high 36 points in first game back against Miami, and the good times have only followed until the ACC tournament.
Playing against a Maryland team led by an astonishing performance from Dez Wells, the Blue Devils—and in particular Kelly—faltered. Kelly made just three of his 11 shots against the Terrapins, including missing all six of his three-pointers. The entire Duke team struggled from beyond the arc, so the blame isn't totally on Kelly.
What will be interesting to watch is whether he fades back into a secondary role during crunch time. He didn’t against Miami, but he was so hot that it was literally impossible to keep the ball out of his hands.
But the Blue Devils had to have built some level of crunch-time comfort with Kelly out. If they get into a close-game situation and revert to that form, it could render Kelly ineffective.
Kevin Pangos (G, Gonzaga)
Gonzaga’s dynamic interior duo of Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris would have a far more difficult time if it weren’t for the excellent long-range shooting of guard Kevin Pangos. Like many of the players we’ve mentioned before, it’s Pangos’ ability to keep opposing defenders from collapsing that helps Olynyk and Harris to dominate inside.
Whenever you watch Gonzaga play, notice how many post-ups head to Pangos’ side of the floor. That, of course, is in large part due to his overall ball-handling duties, but Mark Few is also schematically begging opposing teams to leave Pangos open.
Of course, they want Pangos open because he will invariably knock down just about anything put in front of him. The sophomore guard is averaging 11.5 points on 42.2 percent shooting from distance this season, numbers that denote a slight efficiency increase from his time as a freshman.
All that being said, Pangos does have a few bad games on his resume. He had just seven points, including a horrific 1-of-12 performance from deep, against BYU in a game that was far closer than it should have been. The same can be said for both of the Bulldogs’ losses this season, where Pangos combined for just 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting.
For a team like Gonzaga, where every star will have to perform optimally as the tournament goes along, those games can only happen early—if at all. So while Pangos is a guy who could knock down a paradigm-shifting shot, he could very easily be at the crux of a Gonzaga upset.
Reggie Bullock (G-F, North Carolina)
Already recognized as one of the nation’s most underrated players, Reggie Bullock has been an absolute star since Roy Williams switched over to a four-guard lineup. Bullock, a natural shooting guard, has bought in fully to his new pseudo-power forward role on the defensive end.
He’s battled for rebounds, grabbing six or more boards in all but one game since the switch, and held his ground admirably from a strength perspective as well.
What’s been most impressive, though, is how much of a fire the new lineup has lit under Bullock offensively. The Tar Heels’ second-leading scorer over the course of the season, Bullock has been especially hot of late.
Exempting the Duke game—in which the entire North Carolina team was embarrassed—Bullock has emerged as the team's most reliable player down the stretch. He’s shot 44 percent from beyond the arc, a mark that’s continued to tick up during the ACC tournament.
With North Carolina coming into the tournament with plenty of viability questions, Bullock’s responsibility will only be heightened. For all of the recognition James Michael McAdoo gets, it’s Bullock who has been the heart and soul of this team all season long.
Will he be able to carry over that excellence to the Big Dance? That remains to be seen, but Carolina’s tournament life depends on it.
James Southerland (F, Syracuse)
Following his record-setting performance in the Big East tournament, it’s highly likely any college basketball fan worth his or her weight in orange leather knows James Southerland.
The Syracuse senior put on a shooting display that would make even Carmelo Anthony swoon. He knocked down a Big East record six three-pointers without a miss in Syracuse’s win over Pittsburgh and set a conference tournament record with 19 makes from distance overall.
Southerland faltered a bit against Louisville in the championship game—finishing just 3-of-9 from the field—but the damage was done. He had almost single-handedly resurrected the Orange from a floundering abyss, taking them to the precipice of a Big East championship.
While it remains to be seen whether he can rise on the big stage again, it’s hard to bet against him. A senior, Southerland has shown vast improvement as a shooter in each of his four collegiate seasons. He’s gone from shooting below 30 percent from beyond the arc as a freshman to setting records from distance a mere three years later.
Part of that ascent has come from an expanded role.
As recently as last season, Southerland was a little more than a role player; a happy-go-lucky, smart bench player who was just happy to be rotating with the Syracuse monoliths. That’s changed in 2012-13, thanks in large part to Southerland’s improvement from distance—and especially because of how much the Orange struggle offensively.
If this team is making it anywhere in March, Southerland may be the overarching reason.
Trey Burke (G, Michigan)
When you think of Trey Burke, the first mini-highlight playing in your head is probably one of a slashing drive to the cup. Whether he finishes that drive himself or dumps it off to a teammate like Tim Hardaway Jr., Burke is invariably remembered for his shot-creating ability off the dribble.
That’s ultimately a fair assessment. Burke is a lottery pick in waiting, a guy who fits the pick-and-roll NBA style of play—though there are some other questions that need answering before June—and has brought the Wolverines’ offense to life with his top-notch skill set.
All of the accolades in the world are headed Burke’s way this spring, so it’s a little unfortunate we continue to underrate his shooting. As a dribble-drive creator, Burke almost always has to set himself up for the shots he takes. He isn’t camping at the corner three spots or coming off droves of screens designed to get him a quick-release shot.
So while Burke’s 40.1 percent rate from beyond the arc seems just “very good” on paper, it’s actually pretty ascendant. He knocks down tough shots, often with defenders within centimeters of his release point when he follows through.
We’ll always remember Burke for how brilliantly he played the point guard position, but lest we forget, he’s a pretty darned good shooter too.
Markel Starks (G, Georgetown)
Perhaps better known as Otto Porter’s partner in crime, Markel Starks has been vastly underrated throughout the Hoyas’ 2012-13 campaign. The junior guard is a solid ball-handler and terrific defender; we all know that. But he’s also become a vastly improved jump shooter during his three years under John Thompson III, something that is paying massive dividends for Georgetown this season.
Not exactly what one would call an expert offensive club, the Hoyas keep the three-ball to a minimum. Heading into the tournament, they rank just 257th in the nation with just 16.4 attempts per contest. And while they rank 80th in the nation in overall efficiency, per Ken Pomeroy, that comes in large part thanks to Starks (and to a lesser extent Porter).
After arriving at Georgetown a mediocre-at-best shooter from beyond the arc, Starks has developed into one of the Big East’s best. He’s shooting 41.8 percent from three-land this season on 4.5 attempts per game, which puts him in fourth place in the Big East.
Porter is also being an efficient, smart player when taking jumpers. So while Georgetown isn’t an offensive powerhouse, it is often able to win games with the Porter-Starks duo carrying the offense in tandem while keeping all involved on the defensive end.
Starks isn’t the nation’s best rainmaker, but he’s among its most underrated.
Tyrus McGee (G, Iowa State)
Iowa State is one of the most intriguing teams in the Big Dance. The Cyclones are a major conference outlier, emphasizing a pick-and-roll, uptempo attack when college basketball slows down to the pace of your average family game of croquet. That can be attributed to coach Fred Hoiberg’s decade in the NBA, where he learned the value of floor spacing and three-point shooting.
Though he plays just the sixth-most minutes per night (24), guard Tyrus McGee may be the human embodiment of the Hoiberg era. A junior college transfer, McGee is already in his senior year of eligibility and shoots like a man with that level of experience. He’s the team’s second-leading scorer in those aforementioned minutes, knocking down threes at a rate reminiscent of Cougar Town’s wine consumption.
A viral video of McGee draining 16 straight three-pointers made the rounds leading up to the Big 12 tournament, which was merely par for the course in Ames. McGee takes a little less than two-thirds of his shots beyond the arc and knocks down 45.7 percent of them for the season.
He knocked down six bombs in Iowa State’s overtime loss to Kansas on Feb. 25, matched it the next game against Oklahoma and knocked down four or more three-pointers in 11 games.
Iowa State probably isn’t long for the tournament due to its seeding, but don’t be surprised if McGee puts on a show before his eligibility runs out.
Ethan Wragge (F, Creighton)
There are plenty of players who deserve mentioning because hitting three-point shots is among the many things they do offensively. Creighton forward Ethan Wragge is not one of those players. He is a three-point specialist first and only, a guy who makes San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner look like Shaquille O’Neal in the paint.
Heading into the tournament, Wragge is averaging 7.7 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. He’s not a brilliant on-ball defender, nor is he even all that active. Wragge plays only 16.2 minutes per game for the Bluejays, which represents a career high for the junior.
When Wragge is in the game, though, he shoots. Often. And almost always from beyond the arc. Wragge has made 79 shots this season, 74 of which have come from beyond the arc. He’s attempted 181 shots overall; 170 have been three pointers.
In other words, Wragge is 5-of-11 on two-point shots all season long. However, when he does stroke it from beyond the arc—something he does quite often, averaging 12.5 three-pointers per 40 minutes—it goes in quite often.
You’ll see plenty more complete players in March, but almost none whose effectiveness is predicated more on his shot.
Marshall Henderson (G, Ole Miss)
When Marshall Henderson is feeling his shot, there may be no more exciting player in the nation. The junior guard led Ole Miss through a rampage all the way to the SEC tournament championship game, solidifying the team’s resume in just a nick of time. He scored more than 20 points in each of those resume-boosting performances, including a 20-point second half versus Missouri.
Sudden bursts aren’t just normal for Henderson—they’re expected. He has 17 games with 20 or more points this season, and when he bursts, you’ll certainly know it. Developing a reputation as one of the nation’s most controversial and braggadocious players, opposing teams revel in his failures almost as much as Henderson basks in theirs.
Among sharpshooters, Henderson is the human embodiment of a jagged edge when playing well—and no, not that Jagged Edge. When Henderson is off, however, his jagged edges may cut the life supply from Ole Miss’ NCAA tournament run.
For the season, Henderson shoots right around 38 percent. He takes a bit fewer than 12 three-pointers a game, makes a little fewer than four. He has performances so bad that you wonder sometimes if he’s suddenly gone blind midway through the game—like his ghastly 3-of-18 shooting performance from three against Mississippi State on March 2.
It’s a constant roller-coaster ride for the Rebels; a ride many have wondered if it's worth all of the trouble. Considering where they stand now, that answer is an emphatic “yes."