Ranking the 10 Most Efficient Players in College Basketball for 2013-14 Season
Some college basketball players score lots of points, but they have to take a ton of shots to accomplish that.
There are other players who get things done on a minimal amount of shots.
They shoot a good percentage from the field. They also might knock down their fair share from beyond the arc. Or, they get to the line and convert foul shots into easy points.
In this list, we will look at the 10 most efficient college basketball players in 2013-14 using last season’s stats as our benchmark.
Basic shooting percentages are a good place to start, but we’ll have to dig deeper. Another stat that we will consider is free-throw rate (free-throw attempts/field-goal attempts)
Midwestsportsfans.com’s Andy Bottoms says this about free-throw rate:
It [free-throw rate] sheds light on where players tend to take their shots. Low ratios are indicative of spot-up shooters who are less apt to attack the basket, while high ratios are typically associated with inside players or those who aggressively drive the lane.
One more stat that addresses efficiency is points per shot (total points/field-goal attempts). The more points that a player scores compared to his number of FG attempts, the more productive he is.
Some of these players are well known All-American candidates. Others are unfamiliar gamers who may become breakout stars in the coming season.
All of these players deserve props for their economy on the court.
10. Christian Thomas: Loyola (IL)
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Loyola’s Christian Thomas is a classic “tweener,” and he’s making it work just fine.
Last year, the 6’5”, 220-pound wing averaged 12.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and shot a team-best 56 percent (136-of-242) from the field.
His 1.55 points-per-shot average indicates how crafty and capable Thomas is in terms of efficient scoring.
He is almost exclusively an “inside the arc” player, with only 11 three-point attempts in his first two years of collegiate ball.
The fact that Thomas takes fewer than eight shots per game is notable and should help the Ramblers in their first year in the fierce Missouri Valley.
9. John Bohannon: UTEP
UTEP’s John Bohannon has all the tools to become an imposing all-around player for the Miners.
He was their leading rebounder (6.3 RPG) and shot blocker (50 total; twice as many as any of his teammates), as well as their second-leading scorer (10.2 PPG) in 2012-13.
Bohannon shot 57.6 percent from the field. He shot the most free throws of any UTEP player (114). His 1.55 points-per-shot average shows that he made the most of his 6.6 FG attempts per game.
His 24-point, 17-rebound game against Houston last year was a perfect example of what he can do.
Head coach Tim Floyd is ready for the 6’10” center to discover beast mode as he enters his junior season.
8. Adreian Payne: Michigan State
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If you want to see a player who is likely to explode during his senior season, keep your eyes on Michigan State’s Adreian Payne.
He has methodically put together three solid years in head coach Tom Izzo’s system.
Last year, Payne averaged 10.5 points and 7.6 rebounds, hitting 54.6 percent of his shots while only putting up seven shots per contest.
One of the most undervalued parts of Payne’s game is his free-throw shooting. When the 6’10” forward goes to the line, he makes his opponents pay for putting him there. Payne led the Big Ten in FT shooting (84.8 percent). Unreal!
His 1.55 points-per-shot average confirms that Payne is a low-post slayer who could be the key to MSU getting to the Final Four for the seventh time in the Izzo era.
7. Joe Jackson: Memphis
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Memphis’ Joe Jackson is ready to meet the challenge of moving to the newly formed American Athletic Conference.
He led the Tigers in both scoring (13.6 PPG) and assists (4.8 APG) in 2012-13.
Very few guards in the country shot better last year (51.9 percent from the field and 44.7 percent from beyond the arc) than Jackson. Along with being skilled at getting to the rim, Jackson rarely takes a bad shot. His 1.56 points-per-shot average is almost unheard-of from a backcourt player.
Head coach Josh Pastner is counting on Jackson to shine in all facets of the game when the Tigers face more intense competition in the AAC.
6. Cory Jefferson: Baylor
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Baylor’s Cory Jefferson surprised most of the college basketball world when he decided to come back for his senior season.
The 6’9” forward had a fantastic 2012-13, averaging 13.3 points and eight rebounds per game.
Jefferson was an easy-on-the-shot-chart scorer, launching fewer than nine shots per game and shooting a sizzling 61 percent from the floor. He gets his work done almost entirely inside the arc, launching 304 of his 313 shots last year from two-point range.
His 1.57 points-per-shot average will allow the Bears to rely on him again to produce when the ball is in his hands.
5. Doug McDermott: Creighton
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McDermott used the 2012-13 season as a clinic on how to efficiently score over 23 points per game (No. 2 in the nation).
He knocked down 54.8 percent from the floor, 49 percent from beyond the arc (No. 3 in the nation) and 87.5 from the line. Wow!
No wonder the 6’8” coach’s son had an absurd 1.61 points-per-shot average.
After watching McDermott recently go up against some of the NBA’s young stars at the Team USA minicamp in Vegas, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman said that McDermott “appears ready for the step up in competition he'll face in the new Big East.”
4. Aaron White: Iowa
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Iowa’s Aaron White has two super-solid seasons under his belt for the Hawkeyes.
He averaged 12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game last year. The 6’8” forward shot 46.8 percent from the floor last year and 74.8 percent from the line.
He has sneaky athleticism that helps him post up, face up or step out to the perimeter.
His 86.28 free-throw rate (No. 5 in the nation) and 1.63 points-per-shot average demonstrate that he shot almost as many FTs as he did FGs.
3. Alex Poythress: Kentucky
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Before all of you roll your eyes that Alex Poythress is on this list, consider the following:
Poythress was the Wildcats' second-best scorer (11.2 PPG) while needing fewer than seven shots per game to get it done.
The 6’7” forward shot 58.1 percent from the field, with 86 percent of his shots coming from inside the arc. Even though he only shot one three-pointer per game, he hit 42.4 percent from beyond the arc.
His 1.62 points per shot is one of the best rates among returning players.
But, even though Poythress made the SEC’s All-Freshmen team, the 2012-13 season didn’t exactly turn out the way he had planned.
He returns for his sophomore season with a lot to prove with no guarantees about a starting position or playing time.
2. Jake Odum: Indiana State
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Indiana State’s Jake Odum was the Sycamores’ leading scorer (13.6 PPG) and playmaker (4.6 APG) in 2012-13. Because of his outstanding versatility, he was the first ISU player to be named to the First Team All-MVC since 2001.
While Odum shot a decent 47.6 percent from the field, he really makes his living attacking the basket and going to the line. Last year, the 6’4” guard shot 6.9 free throws per game.
It wasn’t rare for Odum to score more points at the line than he did from the field.
He was No. 6 in the nation in free-throw rate, and his points-per-shot average was an outrageous 1.68.
1. Davante Gardner: Marquette
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Marquette’s Davante Gardner is the most efficient returning player in college basketball. The Golden Eagles’ power forward gets it done with very little wasted activity.
Last year, he averaged 11.5 points while playing 21.5 minutes and taking only 6.2 shots per game. Gardner shot a robust 58.5 percent from the field and 83.5 percent from the line.
The 6’8” PF was No. 9 in the nation in free-throw rate at 81.1 percent.
His 1.85 points-per-shot average is almost unheard-of.
Marquette head coach Buzz Williams is counting on Gardner to take charge down low in 2013-14.
ESPN’s Myron Medcalf lists Gardner as one of “the top 10 most indispensable players in America. Not necessarily the best players. Simply the ones who are most important to the success of their team.”