College Basketball's 10 Most Lethal Three-Point Shooters in the Last Decade

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2013

College Basketball's 10 Most Lethal Three-Point Shooters in the Last Decade

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    Nothing changes the course of a college basketball game quicker than a barrage of three-point shots, especially when they come from a lethal back-breaker who is known for his deadly long-range touch.

    Momentum swings, the crowd gets into it and before the other team knows what happened, it is staring at a double-digit deficit. The three-point shot is especially exciting in March where one hot streak can make the difference between an early exit and a long run to glory.

    Read on to see who the 10 best bets to change the course of a game from long range in the last decade.

    Stats are courtesy of

No. 10: Gerry McNamara

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    The ability of the three-point shot to change the course of a game, or even a season, was never more evident than in the 2006 Big East tournament when Syracuse’s Gerry McNamara went on an absolute tear and led the Orange all the way to the title in the Garden.

    In addition to his impressive postseason accomplishments (he was also an integral part of the team that won the national title behind Carmelo Anthony’s freshman accolades), McNamara hit 400 career threes. Only seven players in the past decade have hit more total shots from downtown.

    Had McNamara’s percentage been a bit higher than 35 percent he would probably be higher on this list, but he is still one of the most dynamic long-range shooters in the past ten years.

No. 9: Chris Lofton

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    In the past decade, only three players have made more career three-point shots than the 431 Chris Lofton made during his four years at Tennessee.

    Lofton was a critical piece of some of Bruce Pearl’s best Volunteer squads. He was a consensus All-American during his final two seasons in Knoxville and averaged an impressive 20.8 points a night as a junior.

    Lofton shot 42 percent for his career from downtown, a mark that would have been higher had he not dipped a bit to 38 percent as a senior thanks to the extra defensive attention that was sent his way. Nevertheless, he made 118 threes that season, which was a career high.

No. 8: Salim Stoudamire

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    Salim Stoudamire doesn’t have the star power name that some of the other players on this list did, but he was about as automatic as they come from behind the three-point line during his career at Arizona.

    Only four players since 1998 have a better career three-point percentage than Stoudamire (46 percent) and only three players had a better single season mark than his 50.4 percent from downtown during his senior year.

    Stoudamire averaged better than 18 points a game that season on his way to becoming a consensus All-American and leading Arizona to the Elite Eight (where the Wildcats lost an absolute heartbreaker to No. 1 seed Illinois).

No. 7: Jimmer Fredette

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    There really was nothing like Jimmer-mania at BYU during the sharp shooter’s four collegiate seasons.

    He swept the fanbase and much of the college basketball-watching nation up when he won the Wooden Award in his senior season behind 124 three-pointers and an astounding 28.9 points per game average. The Cougars made the Sweet 16 that year, but Fredette did enough to earn himself an early spot in the NBA draft.

    During his career, Fredette shot nearly 40 percent from behind the three-point line (including a high mark of 44 percent as a junior) and probably would have shot better had he not been the sole focus of the defense every time out. His high-shot volume and the degree of difficulties on those attempts were always factors in that percentage (he shot 313 threes as a senior alone).

No. 6: Jaycee Carroll

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    Jaycee Carroll played his collegiate ball at Utah State so he never garnered the types of headlines that others on this list did, but percentage-wise, there was only one college basketball player more accurate from behind the three-point line in his career during the past decade than Carroll.

    Carroll hit 46.5 percent of the threes he shot as an Aggie and did so at a very consistent clip. His career low for a season was 43 percent and his career high was 49.8 percent.

    Largely thanks to his three-point prowess, Carroll averaged better than 21 points a game during his final two seasons. He was one of the best players and pure scorers in the entire WAC and helped lead his squad to the 2007-08 regular season conference title.

No. 5: Steve Novak

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    Tom Crean’s Marquette teams were not all about Dwyane Wade in the early 2000s.

    Steve Novak averaged double-digit points a night during the last three years of his career, including an impressive 17.5 a game as a senior. His primary method of scoring was from behind the three-point line, where he hit nearly 47 percent of the threes he took during his collegiate career.

    Only three players since 1998 had a better career percentage from downtown than Novak.

    Novak was a part of a Final Four team during his Marquette years and did most of his damage after Wade left for the NBA. That means Novak wasn’t simply benefitting from Wade’s penetration and kicks and often had to create his own shot despite his most recent role as a three-point specialist on the Knicks.

No. 4: Jon Diebler

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    The Big Ten has a long a storied basketball history, but no player in the conference has ever hit more career three-point shots than Ohio State’s Jon Diebler.

    The most impressive thing about that mark is the fact that he struggled so much from long range as a freshman and still managed to reach the total with a barrage of threes for the rest of his time on campus. He only shot 29 percent from downtown as a freshman, but was at an incredible 50 percent by his senior year. His career average was nearly 42 percent.

    Diebler’s three-point prowess did wonders for his teammates, including the likes of Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger. Diebler would draw so much attention from opposing gameplans and defenders that the lane and block were constantly open for these future pros.

    Diebler is still playing in Europe today.

No. 3: Stephen Sir

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    You may not recognize the name Stephen Sir right away like a number of other players on this list, but no college basketball player in the past decade shot a better percentage from three-point range than the former San Diego State and Northern Arizona guard.

    The most impressive thing about Sir’s career was his overall consistency. He shot 40 percent as a freshman, 46 percent as a sophomore, 48.9 percent as a junior and 49 percent as a senior. Never once did that mark drop below 40 for a single year, and there was consistent improvement each season.

    Largely because of his long-range prowess, Sir averaged better than 15 points a game as a senior for Northern Arizona en route to leading his squad to a regular season Big Sky championship.

No. 2: Stephen Curry

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    Before Stephen Curry was draining threes left and right in the NBA playoffs for the Golden State Warriors he was the leader of a scrappy underdog Davidson squad that made a run all the way to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament.

    During the last decade no collegiate player has made more threes than Curry did in the 2007-08 campaign. He drilled 162 from long range that year as part of his 414 career triples (only five players have more career threes in the past decade).

    Despite the high-quantity of shot attempts and the fact that he was option one, two, three and four for the Wildcats, Curry shot better than 41 percent from downtown in his career. He was a consensus All-American two times and was one of the most exciting college basketball players in recent memory.

No. 1: J.J. Redick

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    There isn’t a more polarizing player on this list (or in recent college basketball history) than Duke’s J.J. Redick, but love him or hate him he was a special shooter when it came to three-pointers.

    His 139 threes in the 2005-06 season ranks seventh all-time in the past decade, but his 457 career treys are unmatched during that span. He shot nearly 41 percent from downtown during his Blue Devils career and was almost always the primary responsibility for opposing defenses.

    Redick won the Wooden Award in his senior year largely due to this three-point prowess. He was a capable player in other areas of the game, but it was his long-range sniping ability that scared opposing coaches and drove rival fans crazy.

    Follow and interact with college basketball writer Scott Polacek on Twitter @ScottPolacek.