The Most Versatile Offensive Weapons in College Basketball in 2015-16

Brian PedersenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2016

The Most Versatile Offensive Weapons in College Basketball in 2015-16

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    Being able to score is one thing, but to be a true weapon on offense in college basketball requires more than just putting the ball in the basket. Getting others involved and contributing on the boards, in addition to scoring production from all over, makes for the kind of player who is too versatile to shut down.

    College basketball is loaded with diverse offensive players—ones who can score in multiple ways while also facilitating for others. We've identified 10 of the most versatile and listed them alphabetically.

    Check them out and then give us your thoughts in the comments section.

Andrew Andrews, Washington

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    On a team that regularly starts four freshmen, Andrew Andrews' ability to score at the rim and from the perimeter is critical. The 6'2" senior guard is also Washington's leading rebounder (6.3) and assist man (5.0) while scoring a team-high 21.4 points per game that comes from numerous methods.

    Andrews has made 135 free throws this season, third-most in Division I, converting at an 82.8 percent clip. No other Huskies player has attempted more than 69 foul shots.

    His overall shooting percentage (39.7) might be higher if he didn't try to draw so much contact, but when he gets a clean shot, he's pretty accurate. At 40 percent from three-point range, Andrews is one of those rare players who shoots from outside the arc better than within it.

    Andrews is a big reason Washington is tied for first in the Pac-12 at 4-1, despite being picked to finish 11th out of 12 schools this season.

Joshua Braun, Grand Canyon

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    Grand Canyon is in only its third season of Division I play and will not be eligible for the NCAA tournament until 2017-18. If Joshua Braun is still with the Antelopes at that time, his versatility on the offensive end will make for a dangerous weapon to deal with.

    The 6'4" sophomore guard ranks second nationally in offensive rating, at 139.7 points per 100 possessions, thanks to great shooting efficiency on two- and three-pointers as well as at the foul line. More than half of his shots come from outside, where Braun is shooting 46.1 percent to go with 48.5 percent overall. He's also making 86.9 percent of his foul shots.

    Braun leads Grand Canyon in scoring at 17.1 points per game, and though he only has 15 assists, he has just 23 turnovers for a strong 9.4 percent turnover rate.

    Grand Canyon is 16-2 and on an eight-game win streak, with Braun coming off a career-high 34 points that saw him go 8-of-12 from the field and 17-of-19 from the line. He's 31-of-36 from the line in Western Athletic Conference play.

Kyle Collinsworth, BYU

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    There's no nickname listed on Kyle Collinsworth's online BYU bio, but we might as well just call him "Mr. Triple-Double." After all, the 6'6" senior guard holds the Division I career record for games with at least 10 or more in three different categories.

    Collinsworth has nine triple-doubles, six coming last season and three more this year—the most recent when he went for 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a Jan. 7 win over Santa Clara.

    For the season, Collinsworth is averaging 14.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game. The assist number is tops on the Cougars, while he's second-best in the other two categories.

    BYU is 13-6 on the season, having won at Gonzaga on Thursday

Kay Felder, Oakland

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    It's very rare that Kay Felder isn't the smallest guy on the basketball court, and its just as uncommon for him to not be the one making the biggest impact with his all-around game.

    The 5'9" junior guard is fourth in the nation in scoring, at 25.6 points per game, while he's also the top collegiate assist man at 8.7 per night. He also grabs a healthy four rebounds per contest, which isn't too shabby for someone his size.

    Felder isn't just parking himself outside the arc and launching shots, though, despite having attempted the second-most field goals (335) in Division I. Nearly two-thirds of his shots are two-pointers, and he also gets to the line quite a bit while making 82.9 of those free throws.

    And he's not just doing this against mid-major competition. Oakland's 11-7 record includes a win at Washington and losses to Michigan State and Virginia, with the MSU game going to overtime. Felder averaged 35.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists in those games.

Buddy Hield, Oklahoma

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    Though Oklahoma lost on Monday in its first game after moving to No. 1 in the country, it still got another huge game from senior guard Buddy Hield. But then again, the Sooners seem to get that every night from the player ESPN broadcaster Roxy Bernstein called “the best offensive player in the country” after calling his games during the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii in December.

    Those three games were a good sample of what the 6'4" Hield can do, including when he scored 34 points in the tournament final against Harvard. But since returning to the mainland, Hield has kicked it up a notch in his quest to get Oklahoma further than last season's trip to the Sweet 16.

    No time did this stand out more than when he had 46 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in a triple-overtime loss at Kansas on Jan. 4. He made eight three-pointers in that game—one of seven times he's had at least five triples—while also going 12-of-14 from the line.

    Hield is averaging 26.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting better than 50 percent overall and from outside and better than 90 percent from the line.

Dallas Moore, North Florida

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    Because none of North Florida's seven main players stand taller than 6'8", each must have a well-rounded game in order for the Ospreys to be successful. This approach is working, since they're 15-6 overall and won their four Atlantic Sun Conference games by an average of 15 points.

    Dallas Moore does his part despite being the smallest member of North Florida's rotation—a 6'1" junior guard who leads the team in scoring (20.0) and assists (5.7) while also chipping in 4.3 rebounds per game. He takes a lot of shots, 15 per game, with most coming in high-percentage situations that have led to a 51.4 percent efficiency.

    He's not afraid to launch from outside, though, hitting 39.4 percent of his deep shots.

    Because of this, Moore ranks first in the nation in offensive win shares. His performance is credited with 3.3 of the Ospreys' wins.

Ben Simmons, LSU

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    All that's keeping Ben Simmons from being college basketball's most versatile offensive weapon is the fact he doesn't take many three-pointers. The nation's top-ranked freshman recruit, per 247Sports, has only shot from outside the arc three times this season, making one.

    But with everything else the 6'10" forward can do, there's no need for him to take those shots. Instead, he passes to teammates who have a better chance of draining the long ball, leading to Simmons recording 5.1 assists per game.

    Known as a point-forward because of his ability to bring the ball up the court, there are many times when Simmons hauls in a rebound on the defensive end—he's averaging 12.9 boards, which is fourth in the country—and then goes coast-to-coast for a layup or gets fouled in the process. This is why he's shooting 56.3 percent and scoring 20 points per game.

    Simmons is also a 73.9 percent free-throw shooter, not dealing with the problems that many big men have at making foul shots.

Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa

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    Being a versatile offensive weapon isn't just about finishing on that end of the court. Sometimes the work starts on the other side, which is where Jarrod Uthoff stands out the most this season.

    The 6'9" senior forward's 18.6 points and 6.2 rebounds are great, but what has been even more helpful for him and Iowa are the 3.1 blocks per game he produces. That's tied for fourth-best in the country, with his 52 total swats helping start a number of transition opportunities for the Hawkeyes.

    Some of those he ends up scoring on, but so too do teammates like Peter Jok or Mike Gesell. Gesell will usually end up getting it back to Uthoff since he's a 48.1 percent shooter overall and 44.9 percent from three-point range. And when he's fouled, he's draining 82 percent of the free throws.

    "He's got to be a big factor in every game that we play," Iowa coach McCaffery said, per Chad Leistikow of the Des Moines Register. "Because he's got the versatility to be able to score outside and in, he can play in an uptempo game, he can play in the half-court game, he can get to the free-throw line."

Denzel Valentine, Michigan State

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    Knee surgery briefly curtailed what was shaping up to be one of the most dominant seasons by a college basketball player ever. Denzel Valentine hasn't been at the same level since his return, though you can still see the versatility the 6'5" senior guard brings to the court.

    At 17.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game, he's among the tops in all three categories in the Big Ten. The scoring and assist numbers are best for a Michigan State team that went unbeaten in the preseason but has lost three times in Big Ten play, including its last two games to Iowa and Wisconsin.

    Neither of those games saw Valentine at his best, still getting up to full speed after missing four games, but he was still all over the place. He started to get back to his old self at times in Sunday's one-point loss at Wisconsin, finishing with 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists with only one turnover in 38 minutes of action.

    Making 51.1 percent of his two-point shots, 39.3 percent of his threes and 81.8 percent from the foul line, there's no place where you can expect Valentine to struggle. And once he's fully recovered from surgery, expect him to return to the form he had in November when he had a pair of triple-doubles.

Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga

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    One almost strictly a spot-up outside shooter, Kyle Wiltjer has worked hard to change his game so that he is as effective scoring near the rim as when he's firing from far away. This isn't something that just happens naturally, especially when you're a 6'10" forward.

    Now a senior, Wiltjer is showing his versatility on a nightly basis. Gonzaga is lacking in guard play like it had last season, when he was able to focus mostly on being an inside presence, and as a result he's taking a career-high 5.7 three-pointers per game...and making a solid 43.7 percent of those shots.

    But Wiltjer is also filling the void left by the injury to center Przemek Karnowski, resulting in him taking more than 10 two-point shots per game. And he's making 52.2 percent from inside the arc, resulting in an overall shooting percentage of 49.1 percent.

    Lastly, Wiltjer is drawing more contact than ever before, comfortable with the rigors of being a big man in the paint. This has led to him shooting a career-best 87.2 percent from the line, helping him score 22.4 points per game, ranking him 10th in the country.

     

    All statistics courtesy of Sports-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted.

    Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.