CBB Players Most Likely to Reach 2,000 Career Points in 2017-18
Xavier's Trevon Bluiett, Murray State's Jonathan Stark and Campbell's Chris Clemons each scored at least 40 points in a single game last season, and they're all near the top of our list of candidates to reach 2,000 career points in 2017-18.
In each of the past four seasons, either 11 or 12 players have finished their college career with at least 2,000 points. Some of them just barely got there, such as Army's Kyle Wilson (2,001), Monmouth's Justin Robinson (2,003) or Iona's A.J. English (2,004). Others like Doug McDermott (3,150) and Tyler Haws (2,720) left that plateau in the dust on the way to bigger and greater things.
Health permitting, 11 or 12 looks to be a good estimate for this coming season as well. A couple of these guys could get there by January. Some might need one or two extra postseason games to hit the mark. But what they all have in common is a propensity for scoring points over the course of the last two to four years.
Players on the following slides are ranked in ascending order of certainty that they will join the 2,000-point club.
Grayson Allen, Duke (1,424 career points)
Allen certainly has the talent to score 576 points in a season—he put up 779 as a sophomore—but there are more than enough mouths to feed at Duke that there are much safer bets in our top 10.
Jalan West, Northwestern State (1,592 career points)
West was granted a rarely-seen seventh year of eligibility due to injuries that have limited him to just one game since the end of the 2014-15 season. When he was healthy, West was putting up points in bunches. After such a long layoff, though, who knows if he still has what it takes to score more than 400 points in a season?
Mike Daum, South Dakota State (1,396 career points)
Daum has averaged better than 20 points per game over the last two seasons with the Jackrabbits and was the toughest omission to make. He could actually decrease his per-game scoring average from last season by close to 25 percent and still reach 2,000 career points. But even for a stud like Daum, 604 points is a lot to guarantee. Everyone in our top 10 is at least 64 points closer to that goal.
Wesley Person, Troy (1,482 career points)
Among players who didn't make the cut, only West has more career points than Person. But this guy isn't that much of a scoring machine, averaging just 14.8 points per game last season. He's probably going to finish within 50 points of 2,000, but it's tough to say with certainty which side he'll land on.
10. Elijah Brown, Oregon
Career Points: 1,479
2016-17 Points: 582 (18.8 PPG)
It's not easy to score 203 points as a freshman and still reach 2,000 in a career, but that's the path Elijah Brown is on.
Brown was brutally inefficient from the field in his debut season with Butler. He averaged 6.8 points on 6.5 field-goal attempts per game. He shot 27.8 percent from three-point range and rarely got to the free-throw line. With both Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones possessing two years of eligibility, it was clear he was never going to get a chance to shine with the Bulldogs.
So, the young man went west to New Mexico, where after sitting out a year, he became an instant star. In the second game of his run with the Lobos, he dropped 31 points on rival New Mexico State. It was the start of a season in which he would average 21.7 points while shooting 39.4 percent from beyond the arc. Brown took a step backward in accuracy this past season, but he still averaged better than 20 points per game in his two seasons with New Mexico.
The two-time transfer is now probably going to be the No. 1 scoring option for Oregon.
The Ducks had five players average at least 10.9 points per game last season, but all five are gone. In dire need of someone with veteran experience who can score in bunches, Dana Altman snagged arguably the best graduate transfer on the market.
Conservatively assuming 33 games for Oregon, Brown will need to average 15.8 points per game, which is a pretty big ask for an incoming transfer. But Andrew White III (Syracuse), Derrick White (Colorado) and Rodney Pryor (Georgetown) each put up at least 18 last year—albeit for teams that failed to reach the NCAA tournament.
9. E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island
Career Points: 1,519
2016-17 Points: 520 (14.9 PPG)
It's kind of remarkable how little E.C. Matthews has changed in his career with the Rams. Aside from a slight uptick in three-point shots attempted per 40 minutes from his freshman to sophomore season, he's basically the same person now as the one who arrived at Rhode Island four years ago (albeit after tearing his ACL and missing the 2015-16 season).
Here are some stats to back up that claim:
- 2013-14: 1,041 minutes, 42.1% FG, 34.8% 3PT, 73.8% FT, 5.3 rebounds per 40, 17.6 points per 40
- 2014-15: 1,051 minutes, 41.0% FG, 32.5% 3PT, 73.4% FT, 5.6 rebounds per 40, 20.6 points per 40
- 2016-17: 1,024 minutes, 41.7% FG, 33.7% 3PT, 72.7% FT, 5.8 rebounds per 40, 20.3 points per 40
If you were to remove the years, shuffle up those stat lines, and ask someone to put them in chronological order, he or she might get it wrong at least 60 percent of the time. And that's probably why Matthews is still playing college basketball as a senior despite averaging better than 14 points per game as a freshman.
But because of that consistency, it's hard not to like his chances of reaching 2,000 career points.
Depending on how Rhode Island fares in the Atlantic 10 tournament and whether it gets any postseason action, it could be a photo finish, though. Matthews needs 481 points, which—at a career average of 15.2 points per game—he would reach in the second half of his 32nd game. Over the last four seasons, Rhode Island has averaged exactly 33 games, so there's not a lot of wiggle room.
After all that talk of consistency, though, I expect Matthews to have a huge senior year, if only out of necessity. Rhode Island lost both Kuran Iverson and Hassan Martin. This completely changes what the Rams will look like in the paint on both ends of the floor—even if Cyril Langevine has a monster sophomore year. As a result of fewer scoring options and worse defense, Matthews should see an uptick in both minutes (29.3 per game last year) and shots per minute, putting him at 2,000 career points by mid-to-late February.
8. Andrew Rowsey, Marquette
Career Points: 1,615
2016-17 Points: 371 (11.6 PPG)
Andrew Rowsey is the only guy in our top 10 who played a full season last year, yet would fall short of 2,000 points if he simply scores the same number of points in 2017-18. Based on all that Marquette lost from last year's roster, though, the Golden Eagles will probably lose at least 20 games if Rowsey's scoring average doesn't increase.
We certainly know Rowsey is capable of putting up more points. In his first two seasons with UNC-Asheville, he averaged 19.7 per game. He scored at least 30 points on nine occasions, including a 41-point performance in a losing effort—a testament to how much his talent was being wasted on a team that played no defense.
Though his scoring average plummeted in his first season with Marquette, Rowsey was actually a more efficient player. His two-point, three-point and free-throw accuracy all increased by about five percentage points, and his turnover rate dropped by about 25 percent while his assist rate increased by roughly 30 percent. After scoring 23.0 points per 40 minutes with UNC-Asheville, he sat out a transfer year and averaged 22.2 with Marquette while attempting 3.2 fewer shots per 40.
He simply didn't play as many minutes with the Golden Eagles as he did with the Bulldogs, dropping from 34.4 to 20.8.
But that's about to change in a big way, as Marquette lost JaJuan Johnson, Luke Fischer, Katin Reinhardt, Duane Wilson and Traci Carter. That quintet was responsible for 45.8 percent of all minutes played, and the Golden Eagles don't have any clear-cut options for replacing them, other than giving guys like Rowsey all the minutes they can handle.
So, to reiterate, if Rowsey doesn't score at least 385 points this season, Marquette is all sorts of screwed.
7. Peyton Aldridge, Davidson
Career Points: 1,470
2016-17 Points: 656 (20.5 PPG)
For the past two years, what little national attention Davidson basketball received was directed entirely at Jack Gibbs. The shooting guard had a breakout year as a sophomore and exploded again as a junior, scoring a combined 1,410 points between his junior and senior seasons.
But when all is said and done, Peyton Aldridge will likely rank ahead of Gibbs—but still well behind Stephen Curry—on Davidson's all-time scoring list.
Unlike Gibbs, who didn't start a single game as a freshman, Aldridge has been a starter for virtually his entire career. This stretch 4 has been on the court for the opening tip in 95 of 97 games, and he rarely comes out after that, either, averaging 34 minutes per game for his career.
Save for some struggles at the free-throw line as a freshman, Aldridge has been an excellent shooter in all three seasons with the Wildcats. He has posted career marks of 39.0 percent from downtown, 54.6 percent inside the arc and 81.6 percent from the charity stripe.
And he is just now about to become the singular, go-to scorer on this team.
We'll see how well those percentages hold up now that he is the primary focus of opposing defenses. Even if they slip a bit, Aldridge is going to put up a ton of points this year. He'll have competition from Jaylen Adams (St. Bonaventure) and Shavar Newkirk (Saint Joseph's), but Aldridge should lead the A-10 in scoring as a senior.
6. Jonathan Stark, Murray State
Career Points: 1,546
2016-17 Points: 723 (21.9 PPG)
Murray State has had an embarrassment of riches at lead guard for the better part of a decade.
After four years of Isaiah Canaan, the Racers went straight into two years of Cameron Payne. Now it's Jonathan Stark, who transferred in after two years at Tulane and wasted no time asserting his dominance. He scored 17 or more points in each of his first eight games, at least tying for the team lead in scoring in seven of those contests.
This was quite the transformation from the Stark who sophomore-slumped his way to 329 points on 320 shots in 2014-15. Over his final 13 games with the Green Wave, he averaged just 8.3 points while shooting 25.4 percent from three-point range and 29.5 percent from the field. After a 13-5 start to the season, Stark's downward spiral was a significant contributing factor in a 2-11 finish.
In terms of wins and losses, Murray State wasn't any better. However, it's Stark's job to run the offense, and that was much crisper. Tulane was 259th in adjusted offensive efficiency in his final season there; Murray State was 122nd in his first year there.
For this exercise, though, none of that matters. Murray State could go 0-31, and as long as Stark averages at least 14.7 points per game, he'd hit the 2,000-point plateau.
Considering he averaged 3.4 made three-pointers per game last year—along with a bunch of one-point and two-point shots—we like his chances.
5. Marcus Foster, Creighton
Career Points: 1,513
2016-17 Points: 638 (18.2 PPG)
It's a little shocking that Marcus Foster is still playing college basketball, right?
He's now in the Big East, but Foster began his career in the Big 12 with Kansas State. In the past 11 seasons, there have been eight Big 12 freshmen who averaged at least 15.5 points per game. Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, Ben McLemore, Andrew Wiggins, Josh Jackson and Bill Walker all left for the NBA after their freshman season. Alec Burks stuck around for one additional year and became a lottery pick after his sophomore season.
And Foster is still hanging around as a fifth-year senior.
Given his scouting profile, it makes sense. He's 6'3" on a good day, he's not a lights-out shooter, he's not much of a passer and he's the furthest thing from a lockdown defender. Had he declared this year, he almost certainly would have gone undrafted. Still, in this one-and-done era, it's hard to believe a guy lit up a major conference for an entire season and came back for several more years.
Maybe the plan was to follow in the footsteps of Burks by coming back for just one more year, really proving himself to the NBA scouts by becoming even more of a scoring machine and then making millions of dollars. But that is very much not how things played out. His play worsened, he feuded with his head coach and was eventually dismissed from the program.
For his sake, hopefully year No. 2 with Creighton goes better than year No. 2 with Kansas State did. But the first year with the Bluejays was quite solid. Even after starting point guard Maurice Watson Jr. went down for the season with a knee injury in the middle of the season, Foster just kept trucking and helped keep the team from completely falling apart at the seams.
Creighton lost five of its eight leading scorers from last year, so it'll be interesting to see what this team looks like early in the season. The one thing for certain is that Foster will be leading the way with a ton of points.
4. Trevon Bluiett, Xavier
Career Points: 1,584
2016-17 Points: 664 (18.4 PPG)
Transitioning from one surefire preseason first-team All-Big East player to another, Trevon Bluiett had one heck of a finish to the 2016-17 season.
After missing two games in mid-February due to an ankle injury, Bluiett came back and played in 417 of a possible 440 minutes in his final 11 games. He averaged 19.7 points per contest during that stretch. And in leading the No. 11 seed Musketeers to NCAA tournament upsets over Maryland, Florida State and Arizona, he scored 21, 29 and 25, respectively.
Bluiett was routinely in the 15- to 25-point range last year, rarely putting together consecutive games outside of it.
There was one noteworthy outlier, though. He caught fire in the rivalry game against Cincinnati, shooting 9-of-11 from three-point range in the process of dropping a 40-burger on the Bearcats. It's the only time in his college career that he has scored more than 29 in a single game.
Other than that, Bluiett has been Mr. Reliable for Xavier. The long and short of it is that he is a good college basketball player who has accumulated a lot of points. He's a career 37.0 percent three-point shooter, but he has never been a ball hog about it. He's an excellent defensive rebounder for his size (6'6", 208 lbs), which has allowed him to serve as one of the best small-ball 4s in the country for the past two seasons.
Bluiett will hit 2,000 career points with plenty of room to spare. With any luck, he'll get there on Feb. 17 in a home win over Villanova.
3. Chris Clemons, Campbell
Career Points: 1,460
2016-17 Points: 904 (25.1 PPG)
The 540-point gap between where Chris Clemons sits and where he needs to get is the widest of any player in our top 10.
But as long as we're pointing out some of the things that exclusively apply to Clemons, let's also note he's the only junior on the list and he's the only player in the past nine years to score at least 900 points in a college basketball season before opting for another one.
The last person to do that was some guy who played at Davidson. Stephen Curry's the name. Anyone know if he ever amounted to anything?
Since Curry did it in back-to-back years, only seven players have scored at least 900 points in a season: Doug McDermott, Jimmer Fredette, Buddy Hield, Kemba Walker, Marcus Keene, Reggie Hamilton and Clemons.
So in addition to keeping company with a two-time NBA MVP, Clemons joined a club consisting of three Wooden Award winners, the dude who led the most incredible four-week run in March Madness history, the guy who just became the first 30-point-per-game scorer in more than two decades and, well, I've got nothing for Reggie Hamilton. But six out of seven are college basketball legends!
Forget about scoring 2,000 points. That's already a foregone conclusion for Clemons. Heck, the guy was just starting to really cook at the end of last season, averaging a mind-boggling 34.5 points in six games in March, including scoring 51 of the team's 81 points in the Big South quarterfinal.
The real question is: If he sticks around for two more (healthy) seasons, how high will Clemons land on the all-time scoring list?
There's no chance he's catching Pete Maravich at No. 1 (3,667 points), but if Clemons were to put up 895 points in each of the next two seasons, he would finish at No. 2 with 3,250 points. Even if he scales back to a modest 746 points per season, he would still rank within the top 10 all-time, slotted between Oscar Robertson and Danny Manning.
There has been no good reason to watch Campbell basketball in its four decades as a Division I program. But it's going to be a massive disappointment if this team isn't at least getting games on Watch ESPN on a somewhat regular basis. The world needs a chance to watch Clemons in action.
2. Jordan Howard, Central Arkansas
Career Points: 1,644
2016-17 Points: 623 (19.5 PPG)
If you've never heard of Jordan Howard before this moment, you're forgiven. There are a lot of names you should know if you're going to be a proper college basketball fan, but the leading scorer for a team that is 17-72 over the last three seasons does not feature prominently on that list.
All the same, now you can say you know that Howard is a talented three-point shooter who is scoring a ton of points per game on an uptempo team that has no earthly idea how to play defense.
Howard has made at least one three-pointer in 86 of 89 career games. And, usually, it's a lot more than one. He has hit three triples on 50 occasions, five treys 18 times and eight trifectas twice. As a result, he has scored at least 33 points six times and has only been held to single digits four times.
While some of the all-time leaders in made three-point field goals were just wild chuckers, Howard has been efficiently lethal. He shot 101-of-227 (44.5 percent) last season and is a career 42.2 percent shooter.
In the past quarter of a century, there have only been 50 players that shot at least 42 percent while making at least 270 threes (Howard is at 273). If he can maintain that percentage while making another 101 triples this season, he'll join Chris Lofton and Ryan Wittman as the only players above 42 percent and 373 career makes.
In addition to the long range, Howard is a darn fine free-throw shooter who gets to the line with regularity. He's the only player in the country who made at least 120 free throws while shooting at least 87.5 percent in each of the last two seasons.
It's just too bad none of it matters since he plays for a team that ranked 346th in points allowed per game in 2016-17.
1. James Daniel, Tennessee
Career Points: 1,933
2016-17 Points: 34 (17.0 PPG)
Each and every one of these players has an implied "if he can stay healthy" attached to his chances of scoring 2,000 career points, but it's worth explicitly stating for James Daniel.
The graduate transfer will be suiting up for Tennessee this year, but he missed at least two games in each of his last four seasons with Howard. Most notably, he missed all but two games this past year due to an ankle injury.
When good to go, though, Daniel has been a scoring machine.
Daniel put up 28 points in his first career game, averaged 21.6 per game that November and never looked back. As a junior, he led the nation in scoring with 27.1 points per game. That year, he scored at least 35 points twice as many times (six) as he was held under 20 points (three).
Throughout his career, the free-throw line has been Daniel's best friend.
He shot just 30.8 percent from three-point range over the last three seasons and is a 39.8-percent two-point shooter in his career. But this guy is the king of getting to and converting from the charity stripe. If you can believe this, Daniel averaged 11.0 free-throw attempts per game as a junior—1.3 more than the highest mark of Tyler Hansbrough's career at North Carolina. And because Daniel shoots 82.2 percent from the line, nearly 33 percent of his points (624) have come one at a time.
As far as his fit with the Volunteers is concerned, there should be enough room for Daniel to carve out at least 67 points. Leading scorer Robert Hubbs III graduated, and guards Shembari Phillips and Detrick Mostella both transferred. There are still five returning players 6'5" or shorter who averaged at least 7.2 points per game last season, but there are plenty of minutes up for grabs.
Kerry Miller covers college basketball and college football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @kerrancejames.