Defense-first teams have put a stranglehold on college basketball’s national title in recent years, but even the best D needs some players who can put points on the board. The best offensive weapons can even take an unremarkable defensive team and turn it into a contender.
One player hoping to make that jump in 2013-14 is Tyler Haws, who destroyed West Coast Conference defenses as a sophomore. The 6’5” guard just missed the national top 10 in scoring last season, and he should have no trouble reaching that lofty perch as his Cougars vie with Gonzaga for the league title.
Read on for more on Haws and the rest of the 25 most dangerous point producers in college hoops for this season.
Syracuse isn’t known as an elite fast-breaking team, but this year’s Orange are going to be tough to handle in transition thanks to C.J. Fair.
The senior forward is one of the country’s most impressive dunkers, and stopping him when he gets a step or two of runway is too tall a task for even the best defenders.
Fair is a capable mid-range jump shooter as well, a skill he’ll have more chances to display with Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche gone. Look for him to leave last year’s 14.5 point-per-game average in the dust in his ACC debut this year.
Of Michigan’s trio of elite sophomore forwards, the most dangerous offensively would be Glenn Robinson III, but he’s stuck at power forward where he can’t use the full measure of his athletic ability.
That leaves Nik Stauskas as the Wolverines’ standard-bearer, and coach John Beilein is hardly going to complain about having an offense led by one of the premier three-point shooters in college hoops.
As a freshman, Stauskas drained 44 percent of his treys en route to scoring 11 points per game, finishing in a dead heat with Robinson for the lead among returning Wolverines.
Now that he’s not fighting Tim Hardaway Jr. for shots, the Ontario native should see his scoring average soar to match his impeccable shooting stroke.
Even in 2012-13, when he was frequently stuck wrestling with bigger, stronger opponents underneath, James Michael McAdoo left no doubt of his enormous potential.
The 6’9” PF led North Carolina with 14.4 points per game in the regular season, edging out now-suspended P.J. Hairston.
McAdoo’s combination of agility and mid-range shooting touch make him a deadly offensive weapon when he can attack slower defenders away from the rim.
Now that freshmen Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks have arrived to take some of the rebounding pressure off him, look for the junior’s point totals to jump.
Although Dan Hurley’s rebuilding effort at Rhode Island has leaned heavily on transfers from other Division I schools, it’s JUCO addition Xavier Munford who will carry this year’s Rams.
In his D-I debut last season, Munford poured in 17.4 points a night, best among Atlantic 10 returnees.
At 6’2”, he's none too big for a shooting guard, meaning that he needs to keep his jump shots falling in order to succeed.
That fact accounts for the senior's iffy .394 field-goal shooting, though opponents are more likely to notice his three-point accuracy (a dangerous .343).
Virginia’s team-oriented defensive mindset doesn’t produce many individual stars, but Joe Harris has managed to buck the trend. The heart of the Cavaliers’ offense is a lethal three-point threat who hit 42.5 percent of his long-range tries last season.
Deadly as he is from beyond the arc, the 6’6” Harris does plenty of scoring elsewhere. His 4.0 rebounds per game speak to a willingness to mix it up inside, just one of the factors that helped him pile up 16.3 points per game as a junior.
Ex-Georgetown players aren’t usually the place to look for elite offense, but Jerrelle Benimon has grown into a star in that department since transferring to Towson. As a junior, the 6’8” PF torched the CAA for 17.1 points per game.
Benimon gets second-chance points in bunches thanks to his 11.2 rebounds per game, the nation’s third-best figure a year ago. Of course, his .533 shooting (and .408 three-point shooting, albeit on just 49 tries) don’t hurt matters either.
On a team that lives and dies with defense, it’s not easy to get noticed for scoring points.
Even so, Treveon Graham carved out a niche for himself as the most versatile and talented backcourt scorer of Shaka Smart’s impressive run at Virginia Commonwealth.
Graham led the Rams with 15.1 points per game last season, shooting a remarkable .450 from the field.
The 6’5” junior could rack up even bigger numbers if he improves on his .366 accuracy from long range now that three-point specialist Troy Daniels has graduated.
The breakout sophomore season is a college basketball cliché, and there are few players better positioned than Isaiah Austin to provide an example this season. Already a solid starter for the NIT-champion Bears, Austin is a superstar waiting to happen in 2013-14.
The slender 7’1” center isn’t quite as good a shot as he thinks he is, but he did hit 30 three-pointers at a .333 clip. His length and mobility also make him virtually unstoppable in the paint, where he got most of his 13 points per game as a freshman.
The Huskies have fallen on some tough times lately, and C.J. Wilcox isn’t going to be able to reverse that trend as a senior. He will, however, provide plenty of highlights in his own right to console the Washington fans.
The 6’5” Wilcox amassed 16.8 points per game last season, even though he shot a career-worst .366 from three-point range. With promising freshman PG Nigel Williams-Goss setting him up, he’s a safe bet to post another career high in scoring in his swan song in Seattle.
Jabari Parker gets a lot of credit for his defense and his intangibles, and rightly so. That doesn’t mean, however, that Duke’s prize freshman isn’t equipped to put up some serious point totals in his first collegiate season.
The 6’8” Parker isn’t a three-point specialist, but he’ll drain his share of jumpers from beyond the arc, especially in a Blue Devil offense that loves to play its forwards on the perimeter.
He’ll get even more points attacking the basket, where his length and athleticism can really take over.
Another year, another superstar transfer arriving to carry the Iowa State offense. This time around, it’s ex-Marshall guard DeAndre Kane, whose penetration skills will be an outstanding complement to coach Fred Hoiberg’s usual brigade of three-point gunners.
Kane dished out seven assists a night on an unremarkable Thundering Herd team and still found time to score 15.1 points per game. He’ll easily surpass his career high of 16.5 points per contest in Hoiberg’s wide-open offense.
Julius Randle is the best candidate for the top-scorer role on a Kentucky team that’s a favorite to cut down the nets in 2014.
If that’s not enough pressure to put on the 6’9” freshman, he’s also got a legitimate shot to lead the SEC in scoring (pending the outcome of Marshall Henderson’s indefinite suspension).
Randle has a solid mid-range jumper, but he’ll do most of his damage down low. He’s an accomplished back-to-the-basket scorer, and he’ll also pile up second-chance points in a deep Wildcats offense.
Despite playing without a top-tier point guard for his first two collegiate seasons, D’Angelo Harrison has posted a career average of 17.4 points per game.
Now that ballyhooed freshman Rysheed Jordan has arrived to set him up, Harrison has a chance to turn himself and his Red Storm into household names.
The junior’s 6’3” height hasn’t kept him from attacking the basket on a regular basis, but he also has a strong mid-range game.
If he’s going to help St. John’s contend in the new Big East, though, he’ll need to regain the three-point accuracy he showed as a freshman (.367) after dipping to a shaky .315 last season.
Last year’s Mountain West saw some outstanding defensive teams—New Mexico, Colorado State, UNLV—take center stage, but this year the offenses will get some of their own back.
High-scoring Boise State is poised for a run at the conference title, with junior Anthony Drmic leading the charge.
The 6’6” swingman poured in 17.7 points per game last season, thanks in large measure to his prolific three-point shooting (80 treys with .392 accuracy).
His length also makes him the best penetrator in the Broncos’ rangy backcourt, giving him plenty of chances to show off his .777 foul shooting.
Even more than last year, Cincinnati is going to be a one-man offense thanks to the graduation of Cashmere Wright.
Fortunately for the Bearcats, the one man in question is Sean Kilpatrick, and there are few shooting guards in the country to match his skills.
As a junior, Kilpatrick notched a career-best 17.0 points per game, even as his shooting percentages dipped thanks to constant double-teams.
Don’t be surprised if the Bearcats try to get him inside more this season to take advantage of his muscle (at 221 lbs) and .738 free-throw shooting.
Despite last year’s dismal 10-21 finish, Penn State is one of the country’s most promising sleeper teams. The key to that status is senior PG Tim Frazier, back from a ruptured Achilles and ready to dominate in all phases of the game.
Not only did Frazier score 18.8 points per game in his last full season of action, but (at 6’1”, 170 lbs) he grabbed a team-high 4.7 rebounds a night to go with it.
That kind of toughness lets him penetrate even in the bruising Big Ten, and opponents who are forced to respect his driving ability leave him open for mid-range jumpers.
While stud freshman Shabazz Muhammad was serving his season-opening suspension a year ago, classmate Jordan Adams carried the UCLA offense. With Muhammad off to the NBA, Adams is set for a repeat performance.
Despite sharing the ball with the shot-hungry Muhammad, Adams finished with 15.3 points per game last season. Much of that production came from attacking the rim, where his 6’5”, 220-lb frame serves him just as well as his impressive leaping ability.
There are legitimate questions to be raised about the competition Travis Bader faced in the Summit League, but his own talent is not in doubt. Nobody hits 139 three-pointers in a season (best in the nation) without a big-time shooting stroke.
Bader also ranked fifth in the country in scoring with his 22.1 points per game. As the Golden Grizzlies make the move to the Horizon League, the 6’5” senior will hope for a little more exposure, not to mention a shot at the NCAA tournament to close his career.
There’s not much more Shabazz Napier can do for UConn than he did last season, but he’s certainly going to try. That will include hoping to top his career-best 17.1 point-per-game scoring average in his senior season in Storrs.
Napier, a cat-quick 6’1” point guard, has the toughness—physical and mental—to penetrate and the shooting touch (.398 from deep) to punish a sagging defense.
He’ll be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the creation of the AAC, which won’t feature nearly the night-after-night gauntlet of top defenses that the Big East did a season ago.
These days, being the top-rated freshman in the country carries exorbitant expectations with it, so it can’t hurt to add a bit to the anticipation surrounding Andrew Wiggins.
The Jayhawks newcomer is the instant favorite to lead the Big 12 in scoring in his first year of college ball.
Wiggins, who lit up the McDonald’s All-American Game for 19 points in a losing cause, can score from anywhere on the floor.
He’ll provide KU with a very similar weapon to departed lottery pick Ben McLemore, doling out highlight-reel dunks and clutch treys in equal measure.
In two seasons as the heir apparent to MarShon Brooks, Bryce Cotton has blossomed into a scorer very nearly as dominant as his predecessor.
After he piled up 19.7 points per game last season, Cotton has a legitimate chance to match Brooks’ feat of placing second in the country in scoring in his final year as a Friar.
The 6’1” SG doesn’t have Brooks’ physicality, but his shooting touch is enough to compensate.
He drained 98 three-pointers last season, and he’ll get plenty more points if he can reprise his career-high .891 free-throw shooting from his sophomore campaign.
Archrival Arizona is the heavy favorite for the Pac-12 crown, but it’s Arizona State that features the conference’s Player of the Year frontrunner.
Jahii Carson dazzled as a redshirt freshman, averaging 18.5 points per game while still serving as a high-level distributor.
With Carrick Felix gone, the fleet-footed Carson will be carrying even more of the scoring load. If he can boost his .320 three-point accuracy a bit, he’ll run away with the league scoring title and challenge for the top spot nationally.
He hasn’t reached Jimmer Fredette cult-hero status yet, but Tyler Haws certainly opened some eyes with his breakout 2012-13 season. The 6’5” sophomore exploded for a WCC-high 21.7 points per game, ranking 11th nationally.
Haws is a solid three-point threat (.381 last year) but gets most of his points with his physical 200-pound frame. When he gets inside, defenders foul him at their peril, considering that he shoots a dazzling .877 from the charity stripe.
He may have an unfortunate tendency to drive into double- and triple-teams, but Russ Smith is the biggest reason Louisville stands as the reigning national champion.
The then-junior’s 18.7 points per game were frequently the only reliable offense for Rick Pitino’s squad.
Smith still isn’t much of a three-point shooter, though his .328 accuracy from deep was a major improvement over his previous showings. He does, however, turn defense (2.1 steals per game) into offense better than anyone in the college game.
The top spot on any list of this year’s best offensive players is no contest.
Senior Doug McDermott, the leading returning scorer in the country, is head and shoulders above anybody else in college hoops.
McDermott didn’t just score 23.2 points per game, he did it with unbelievable efficiency. The 6’8” forward shot .548 from the field, .875 from the free-throw line and a ludicrous .490 from beyond the arc in earning his second straight All-America nod.