Ranking the 10 Most Impressive Individual Stats in College Basketball So Far
Even though college basketball is a very team-oriented game, it's the statistics of the individual players that are often most impressive.
Iowa State is leading the nation with 19.8 assists per game, but the 10.1 assist average of LIU Brooklyn's Jason Brickman is exponentially more interesting.
Fouls are on the rise across the country, but Siena's Lavon Long is feeling the wrath of the officials more than anyone, getting whistled for 4.4 fouls per game.
Syracuse, UCLA and VCU are each averaging better than 10 steals per game, but Oakland's Duke Mondy is on a completely different level, averaging 4.7 steals per game all by his lonesome.
Those are just a few of the eye-popping individual statistics through the first six weeks of the 2013-14 season.
*Unless otherwise noted, all statistics on the following slides are current through the start of play on Thursday, December 19.
10. Antoine Mason's Points
Antoine Mason's points per game: 28.6
Many will probably argue that the nation's leader in points per game should be higher on the list, but I'm not impressed.
Sure, it's noteworthy that Niagara's Mason has 3.3 more points per game than second-place Doug McDermott.
Unless you adore free-throw shooting contests, what's not impressive is the way that he's doing it.
Mason has attempted 25 more free throws than any other player in the country, averaging 12.5 per game. He's shooting just 26.7 percent from behind the arc. His 53.3 percent success rate on two-point attempts isn't nearly as glamorous once you remember that he's getting fouled a lot and missed field-goal attempts don't count when there is a foul.
Furthermore, Mason has absurdly taken 32.2 percent of Niagara's field-goal attempts. McDermott would be averaging 33.1 points per game for Creighton if he was committed to taking as many shots as Mason.
Last but not least, Niagara is 3-8 while playing against the 316th-most difficult schedule in the country. Mason has scored 31 or more points seven times this season, and the Purple Eagles are 1-6 in those games. Comparing him to McDermott one final time, Creighton is 14-0 over the last four years in games in which McDermott scores 31 or more points.
Credit where credit is due, though. Regardless of his method of scoring or the team's winning percentage, if he maintains his current average, Mason would be in a tie with 2008-09 Stephen Curry for most points per game since VMI's Jason Conley averaged 29.3 during the 2001-02 season.
9. Lavon Long's Fouls
Lavon Long's fouls per game: 4.4
This is one of those "impressive in a sad way" statistics, but Siena's Long is quickly becoming the king of Dairy Queens—Clark Kellogg's expression for a player who has been DQ'd (disqualified) from the game for committing five fouls.
Long has committed at least three fouls in each of Siena's 11 games, fouling out six times. He has twice as many personal fouls as he does assists, steals and blocks combined.
Let's also give an honorable mention to Air Force's Justin Hammonds, who has played in just five of his team's games against D-I opponents, fouling out four times and committing four fouls in the other.
8. George Beamon's Free-Throw Shooting
George Beamon's free-throw shooting: 82-of-90 (91.1 percent)
There are 37 players in the country averaging more than 2.5 free-throw attempts per game and shooting better than 89.0 percent, but Beamon has maintained his high percentage while attempting 34 percent more free throws than anyone else in that bunch.
There must be something special about the free-throw lines in the MAAC, as Iona's Lamont "MoMo" Jones was the only player in the country during the 2012-13 season to attempt at least 200 free throws while converting better than 85.2 percent of them—numbers which Beamon will almost certainly surpass unless he suffers a prolonged slump or an injury.
In Manhattan's four games decided either in overtime or by five or fewer points, Beamon shot 38-of-41 from the charity stripe. He averages nine free-throw attempts per game and has missed just eight all season.
With North Carolina shooting an abysmal 59.6 from the free-throw line as a team, the Tar Heels are probably wishing they had recruited Beamon. James Michael McAdoo missed eight free throws in North Carolina's three-point loss to Belmont. He missed another 10 free throws in Wednesday night's three-point loss to Texas.
7. Alan Williams' Shot Rate
Alan Williams' percentage of shots taken: 41.7
When Williams is on the court, he's shooting the ball more often than any other player in the country.
Doug McDermott is "only" responsible for 35.9 percent of Creighton's field-goal attempts while he is in the game. Marshall Henderson is Williams' closest challenger, taking 39.2 percent of Ole Miss' shots when he is on the court.
But both of those high-usage players pale in comparison to Williams—who could end up with the highest percentage of the past decade if his 41.7 percent rate increases a bit.
UCF's Jermaine Taylor had a 43.4 percent mark during the 2008-09 season. Taylor averaged 26.2 points per game while no other Knight scored more than 10.
Williams is averaging 16.2 field-goal attempts, 24.2 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. In five of his six games, he took at least five more shots than anyone else on the team. He twice attempted 11 more field-goals than his next-closest Gaucho comrade.
The craziest part of it all is that Williams isn't an outside shooter. He hasn't even attempted a three-pointer in any of his three years in college. He's merely a 6'7" center who fights for position in the paint about as well as anyone in the country.
6. John Brown's Offensive Rating
John Brown's offensive rating: 130.0
I have no idea how this metric is calculated. In Ken Pomeroy's glossary, the definition for offensive rating is "A measure of personal offensive efficiency developed by Dean Oliver. The formula is very complicated, but accurate. For a detailed explanation, buy Basketball on Paper."
What I do know is that top-five finishers in offensive rating over the last five seasons include Stephen Curry, Jimmer Fredette, Kemba Walker, Nate Wolters, Derrick Williams, Doug McDermott, Damian Lillard, Kelly Olynyk and Trey Burke. Clearly, it's a pretty strong indicator of talent.
Thus far, it suggests that High Point's Brown is the king of offensive efficiency.
Through nine games, he's averaging 20.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game while shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor.
5. Jason Brickman's Assists
Jason Brickman's assists per game: 10.1
During the 2011-12 season, Brickman was fifth in the nation in assists per game, averaging 7.3 dimes per contest. Last year, his mark of 8.5 assists per game was the highest in the country.
This season, he's just making a mockery of the statistic.
Entering play on Thursday, there are 22 teams averaging fewer assists per game than Brickman has as an individual. He already has five point-assist double-doubles this season, including an 11-point, 11-assist effort in LIU Brooklyn's one-point loss to Indiana back in the first week of the season.
If you want to see one of the country's best point guards in action, circle February 6 on your calendar. That game against Robert Morris is LIU Brooklyn's only remaining televised game during the regular season. Coincidentally, Robert Morris was the only team to hold Brickman to fewer than five assists in a game last season.
4. Jeff Elorriaga's Three-Point Shooting
Jeff Elorriaga's three-point shooting: 60 percent (33-of-55)
There are slightly higher three-point shooting percentages out there—most notably, Kasey Shepherd has made 18 of his 27 three-point attempts for a 67 percent clip—but Elorriaga has kept up his high percentage while attempting more than twice as many triples.
Because he also takes such a low number of shots from inside the arc—only six two-point attempts on the year—Elorriaga is the top dog in two of Ken Pomeroy's shooting metrics. His 88.2 true shooting percentage is nearly 10 full percent better than second place. His 89.3 effective field-goal percentage is more than 11 percent better than the next-closest shooter.
It's a shame that high shooting percentage failed him against Kentucky last week. Boise State lost the game by 15 points, but it would have been much closer if Elorriaga had shot better than 1-of-5 from the floor.
3. Chris Obekpa's Blocks
Chris Obekpa's blocks per game: 5.1
It might not seem like much, but five blocks per game is pretty ridiculous. Marshall's Hassan Whiteside averaged 5.4 blocks per game during the 2009-10 season, but he is the only player in the past six years to average at least 5.0.
Obekpa's numbers aren't exactly fluky, either. If not for Nerlens Noel, Obekpa would have led the nation in blocked shots per game last season, too.
According to Ken Pomeroy, he is rejecting 22.6 percent of opponents' two-point field-goal attempts, putting him head, shoulders and freakishly long arms ahead of Michale Kyser's second-place rate of 18.8 percent.
The only person in the past decade to finish a season at better than 20 percent was Alabama A&M's Mickell Gladness, who blocked 20.5 percent of two-point attempts during the 2006-07 season.
2. Jason Calliste's Points Per Shot
Jason Calliste points per field-goal attempt: 2.23
Though it's arguably one of the most useful metrics in determining who should be shooting the ball when it matters the most, we rarely pay any mind to points per shot unless someone puts up a terrible number in a disappointing loss.
For example, BYU's Matt Carlino was 3-of-15 from the floor in Saturday's loss to Utah, scoring just seven points in the game. Similarly, Jahii Carson had just eight points to show for his 14 field-goal attempts in Arizona State's surprising loss to Miami earlier this month. Their respective PPS numbers were 0.47 and 0.57.
Meanwhile, Oregon's Calliste has averaged 2.23 points per shot for the year.
He certainly doesn't shoot it a ton—averaging 4.8 field-goal attempts per game after averaging 10.4 last season with Detroit—but the shots that he does take are quite valuable. He's shooting 52.1 percent from the field, 60.0 percent from behind the arc and 89.4 percent from the free-throw line.
It'll be interesting to see how much playing time Calliste gets now that Dominic Artis is back.
1. Duke Mondy's Steals
Duke Mondy's steals per game: 4.7
It's been nearly a decade since anyone averaged better than 3.4 steals per game for an entire season, but you have to like Mondy's chances of breaking that streak by a mile.
Not only is he stealing like crazy, he's doing so against the ninth-highest strength of schedule.
Mondy isn't puffing up his stat sheet by stealing the ball from the subpar backcourts of Grambling State and Prairie View A&M. Rather, he recorded 20 steals in Oakland's three games against Indiana, Michigan State and North Carolina.
Whereas many major-conference players have impressive numbers that will deflate when they get into conference play, Mondy should theoretically get even better once Oakland's opponents drop in caliber from Big Ten and ACC powerhouses to Horizon afterthoughts.
Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames