Ranking the 10 Streakiest Shooters in College Basketball for 2014-15 Season
A streaky shooter can bring college basketball fans to their feet in excitement one night and then make those same diehards despondent with a tall column of bricks the next time he takes the court.
Even some of the nation's best shooters can have terrible nights, but they're among the best because they're able to minimize the clunkers. Guys who aren't quite as well-known are still highly capable of great games, but those guys can also struggle, especially if they're on mid-major teams playing a higher-level opponent.
The 10 players and five honorable mentions here aren't all the best shooters in America, but they're certainly guys who are capable of epic streaks, both good and bad.
Explanation of Terminology
The game logs of 50 or so of the nation's top shooters were pored over for this examination, looking for three things:
- Games with four or more three-pointers made (3PM);
- Games where the shooter hit 50 percent or better from long range (minimum two 3PM);
- Games where the shooter made 20 percent or less (minimum two attempts).
Either of the first two points classified the game as a "hot" game. The third constituted a "cold" game. The first two were totaled together and divided by the player's total career games to determine his Hot Game Percentage (HG%). The same was done with the cold games to determine the Cold Game Percentage (CG%).
The two percentages were added together to determine the shooter's Streak Percentage (S%). This is the figure used to sort the shooters in the list. Players who had more cold games than hot were immediately disqualified. Syracuse's Trevor Cooney had 22 of each, placing him squarely on the borderline.
Using the total career figures may penalize certain players who weren't major options in their teams' offenses as freshmen, such as Indiana's Yogi Ferrell—pictured above, looking quite agitated at his omission from this list.
Ferrell struggled badly with his shot as a freshman, but he put together a very strong sophomore campaign in 2013-14. In his 32 games last season, Ferrell made four or more triples eight times, shot 50 percent or better 11 times and only struggled through three cold games. His 68.8 S% from last season would have qualified him as an honorable mention.
Also, Ferrell's 9.4 CG% would have placed him second-lowest in that category behind Florida's Michael Frazier.
Games with four makes and 50 percent accuracy frequently overlap, but the overlapping games were counted in both categories. Call it extra credit for the guys who regularly get in a groove. Going back to Cooney, this double-dipping was the only thing that saved him from disqualification.
Once again, I freely admit that the study is not truly exhaustive. There are over 4,500 players in college basketball at any one time, and one can only dig through so many game logs with a nine-month-old crawling around one's ankles before giving up.
If you'd like some leg work done on your favorite shooter, volunteer a name in the comments without calling me anything demeaning and I'll plug them in. If you pull one up who would qualify, you'll get full credit and a hearty pat on the back. Hope you're not expecting cash.
5 Honorable Mentions
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown (40.0 HG%, 26.2 CG%, 66.2 S%)
Smith-Rivera announced himself as a dominant shooting option with nine-of-11 shooting from deep in wins over Kansas State and VCU in last season's Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Of course, his rough 1-of-5 night against Northeastern helped put the Hoyas in the losers' bracket of that tournament.
Michael Frazier, Florida (58.7 HG%, 8.0 CG%, 66.7 S%)
It's a shooting article, so Michael Frazier must make an appearance somewhere. Frazier usually played the complementary weapon during his first two seasons, but he may be the single-most important scoring option for the Gators as a junior. He went over four makes 13 times last season, including the avalanche of 11 that he laid on South Carolina. And when he hits, he doesn't stop—six cold games out of 75.
D'Angelo Harrison, St. John's (45.7 HG%, 23.9 CG%, 69.6 S%)
The Red Storm went 3-5 in Harrison's cold games last season, including close losses to tournament teams Syracuse and Providence. An extra bucket here and there could have made all the difference toward getting the Johnnies into the tournament themselves.
R.J. Hunter, Georgia State (48.4 HG%, 21.9 CG%, 70.3 S%)
As a freshman in 2012-13, Hunter debuted with a double-double at Duke, so we know he's cold-blooded. His streaks can last for games on end—witness 21-of-33 over three games as a rook or 24-of-45 over five games as a sophomore. He's no Pete Maravich by any stretch, but he's also not just out there because he's the coach's kid.
Joseph Young, Oregon (53.1 HG%, 17.7 CG%, 70.8 S%)
Mighty Joe Young was one of the nation's more efficient scorers as a sophomore at Houston. He only found some spotlight when he got to Oregon, and he's now a potential national scoring champion. He can still be up and down, though, as illustrated by his postseason—6-of-11 in a Pac-12 tournament loss to UCLA, 0-of-3 against BYU and 4-of-7 in the NCAA loss to Wisconsin.
10. D.J. Balentine, Evansville
44.9 HG%, 27.5 CG%, 72.5 S%
If you watched Wichita State intently last March, waiting for some Missouri Valley nobody to trip up the unbeaten Shockers, the name D.J. Balentine may ring a faint bell. Balentine dropped 31 of Evansville's 58 points in a quarterfinal loss to Wichita, one that cemented the Purple Aces' shooting star as the MVC's scoring champion. He drained seven of his 14 three-point attempts in that game.
Balentine frequently kept UE close with flurries from the foul line—he made 19 freebies against Northern Iowa and 20 against Illinois State—but his three-point stroke was equally prone to heating up. He's hit four or more threes on 11 different occasions—eight last year—with a host of 3-of-3, 3-of-4 and 2-of-4 nights on his record, as well.
Wichita State may still be the story in the Valley this season, but Evansville should be at the head of the league's sleeper list. Another year of high scoring and hot shooting coupled with some occasional winning could see Balentine press Shocker stars Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker for the conference's Player of the Year trophy.
9. Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
43.3 HG%, 30.0 CG%, 73.3 S%
Buddy Hield is another player who struggled through a poor-shooting freshman year, sinking only 23.8 percent in his first year at Oklahoma. He didn't start off terribly hot as a sophomore, either, with five cold games in the Sooners' 2013-14 nonconference schedule.
Once the Big 12 campaign started, however, Hield's rims started looking as wide as the Red River. He hit four or more triples in a whopping 10 of OU's 18 regular-season conference games. Iowa State surrendered a combined 11-of-20 to Hield, while Texas lost both meetings thanks in part to Hield hitting eight of 14 from deep.
The cold-game curse reared its head at the worst possible time, with Hield making only one of nine in an NCAA tournament upset loss to North Dakota State. That sizzling conference run, however, has Oklahoma thinking about another tournament run this season, and Hield is a potential All-Big 12 First-Team selection.
No less an authority than Kansas coach Bill Self said that Hield could be the league's Player of the Year, according to the Tulsa World's Guerin Emig. So there's that, too.
8. Marcus Paige, North Carolina
46.4 HG%, 27.5 CG%, 73.9 S%
Much like Yogi Ferrell, North Carolina guard Marcus Paige struggled to find his shot as a freshman because he wasn't a primary option in the Tar Heels offense. Paige had only one game of four or more threes in 2012-13, but he did shoot 45.9 percent from the arc over his final 10 games.
As a sophomore, it all changed. Paige became not only an option, but he also became the option. He and the now-departed Leslie McDonald were the only UNC players to knock down more than eight three-point buckets on the season. To put that in perspective, Paige hung seven triples on NC State by himself in a Feb. 26 victory—all of those baskets coming in the second half and overtime.
Paige's shooting streaks, beyond the arc and otherwise, frequently begin in the second half of games, making him one of the nation's must-watch players when the clock's winding down.
Unless freshman Justin Jackson explodes onto the college scene, there's a possibility that Paige may again be forced to carry the Heels' perimeter game. UNC's head-scratching losses to Belmont, UAB, Wake Forest and Miami last season can be partially laid at Paige's feet for the combined 4-of-28 he shot in those games. Forcing him to carry the mail again this year could cost Carolina a few more odd defeats.
7. Jalan West, Northwestern State
50.8 HG%, 27.0 CG%, 77.8 S%
Northwestern State guard Jalan West has had his share of hot games against the likes of East Texas Baptist and LeTourneau, sure. But that's ignoring the kinds of games he's produced against the likes of Texas A&M, Auburn and Baylor.
West paced the Demons to a win over Auburn last November and then was instrumental in pushing Baylor to overtime the following month. He sank a combined 9-of-17 from long range in those two outings.
Few defenses in the Southland could truly slow him, either. West sank 20 of 34 over five straight wins in late January and early February and then 21 of 41 over NSU's final five games of the season. The only loss in the latter span came in the Southland tournament semifinal against Stephen F. Austin.
With both West and sidekick Zeek Woodley back to pace their up-tempo offense, the Demons are prepared to lay siege to SFA in the chase for the Southland title. If you stumble across NSU against one of the multiple SEC and Big 12 opponents on its schedule—or even Louisiana Tech on Dec. 2—give those games a quick look. If they're close, stick around to see if West plays the hero.
6. Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga
59.6 HG%, 19.2 CG%, 78.8 S%
Kevin Pangos had the very definition of a hot game in his second collegiate outing against Washington State. His nine three-pointers put him firmly on the national map, and he's never really left.
As a sophomore, Pangos sank a combined 50 percent from the arc as Gonzaga went 5-0 against the Big 12. The latter two wins, over Baylor and Oklahoma State, were propelled by Pangos' 11-of-17 pyrotechnics.
A career 38.3 percent shooter in the NCAA tournament, Pangos has hit four threes in three of GU's last four games at the Big Dance. Unfortunately, Wichita State and Arizona were unimpressed.
Now healthier than he was at any point in 2013-14, Pangos could keep lighting up scoreboards across America, especially if defenses forget about him to shadow transfers Byron Wesley (USC) and Kyle Wiltjer (Kentucky), very solid shooters in their own rights.
5. Johnny Dee, San Diego
64.0 HG%, 15.0 CG%, 79.0 S%
Johnny Dee's name sounds like some anonymous beefcake who hung out with Annette Funicello in the beach movies your parents used to watch when they were kids. In fact, he looks like he'd do well in a casting session to play Zack Morris in a reboot of Saved by the Bell.
Actually, Dee's a West Coast Conference rival of Pangos, playing for a San Diego program that, like every other WCC school not named Gonzaga or BYU, draws yawns from Joe Casual Fan. Dee may, in fact, be the league's best shooter overall.
In Dee's 100 career games at USD, he's been held without a three-point basket only 11 times. In contrast, he's had 27 games of four triples or more. He's a career 40.5 percent shooter from deep, and he hit a nice 28-of-49 groove in the midst of last year's WCC campaign. Unfortunately, the Toreros went 2-6 over that span.
Overall, Dee only posted three cold games all season, but one came in USD's CIT quarterfinal loss to Pacific.
San Diego's not a major threat to reach the NCAA tournament, but Dee will still remain one of the nation's better shooters. Of course, you'll still likely never see him play.
4. Bryn Forbes, Michigan State
56.3 HG%, 23.4 CG%, 79.7 S%
Bryn Forbes has yet to record a hot game against power-conference opposition. Of course, it's not like Cleveland State scheduled a ton of high-octane opponents, but it should be concerning considering he's now joined the Michigan State Spartans.
Forbes did post an encouraging season last year, including the 22-point game against Kentucky pictured above. He sank three of seven from deep that night. That game was part of a 14-game stretch to start last year in which Forbes sank multiple threes 13 times.
With only five cold games all season long, Forbes was a highly reliable perimeter threat for the Vikings. That was in the Horizon League, however, which is a far cry from the Big Ten.
Michigan State does have a history of finding solid mid-major transfers. Remember Brandon Wood? He came in from Valparaiso and finished third in scoring on a Sweet 16 team. That may be enough for Forbes this season, but Spartan Nation would surely rather see the guy who put up six hot games in his final 12 with CSU.
3. Marcus Foster, Kansas State
60.6 HG%, 21.2 CG%, 81.8 S%
Marcus Foster's college career started with a colossal thud. He shot three of 12 from the floor, zero of six from the arc and Kansas State lost at home to Northern Colorado. From there, he and the Wildcats had nowhere to go but up.
Foster mostly struggled with his shot during nonconference play, but once the Big 12 games started, he went to work with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch, as Marsellus Wallace said in Pulp Fiction. He hit a six-game stretch in February where he drained 21 of 41 from the arc. That run was kicked off with wins over conference heavies Texas and Kansas.
Foster ended the regular season with a 7-of-11 torching of Baylor, but, as so often happens, a cold NCAA tournament game went on to end K-State's season. His 1-of-7 night against Kentucky, combined with similar struggles from teammate Will Spradling, cost the purple Cats a victory on a night when their defense was nearly impregnable.
As a sophomore, Foster is a preseason All-Big 12 pick with All-American potential. Expect him to rank among the Big 12's scoring leaders, sinking mass quantities of three-pointers in the process.
2. Phil Forte, Oklahoma State
65.7 HG%, 22.4 CG%, 88.1 S%
Phil Forte is a pure gunner, ready to hoist a long jumper at any time from any place. In his first 12 collegiate games, he had games of 6-of-11, 5-of-8 and 1-of-10, wild fluctuations that persisted throughout his 33.8 percent freshman season.
As a sophomore, Forte found a much more consistent rhythm, stroking 44.1 percent from deep overall. He posted only four cold games all season, compared to 14 games with four or more makes.
With talents such as Marcus Smart and Markel Brown on hand to pick up any slack he left, Forte wasn't always a barometer of Oklahoma State's success. He sank a combined 13 of 16 in losses to Kansas and Oklahoma, with a 1-of-9 night in a win over West Virginia sandwiched between.
Smart and Brown are now gone, leaving Forte and forward Le'Bryan Nash as the primary weapons for the Cowboy offense. If Forte posts another 44 percent shooting season, he could average nearly 18-20 points per game.
1. Tyler Harvey, Eastern Washington
67.3 HG%, 26.9 CG%, 94.2 S%
Tyler Harvey's shooting is often very good, sometimes very bad, but he's almost never indifferent.
Harvey struggled for much of his freshman season, when he was forced into duty as EWU's point guard. Late in the year, however, he gave an indication of things to come when he sank nine of 15 from the arc in his final two games. That was part of a finishing kick that saw him average 17.8 points per game over his final six.
As a sophomore, Harvey screamed past that average and didn't look back. En route to 21.8 points per game last season, Harvey drilled at least four three-pointers in 15 of his 31 games, shooting less than 40 percent in only two of those. He had only five cold games all season.
Unfortunately, two of those came in the final three of the season. The losses to North Dakota and Weber State kept EWU from qualifying for the Big Sky tournament, where the Eagles would have likely matched up against a Northern Colorado team that surrendered 17 three-pointers to Harvey in two games.
The Eagles are among the favorites to win the Big Sky this season, so at least the nation will get to see Harvey shoot somewhere in March. It could be poetry in motion or gibberish careening off a cliff, but it'll at least be something interesting.
All statistics courtesy of Sports-Reference.com.