All stats are updated through the games of December 6. For up-to-the-minute coverage of this week’s college basketball action, visit us on Twitter and follow @PalestraBack.
College basketball has something that NBA fans can try to emulate but will never be capable of finding in their league: the wild, demented box score line.
Don’t get me wrong; the NBA is capable of producing a wacky stat line now and then, but it can’t compete with college basketball’s pure volume and insanity. On a busy winter Saturday, there more than 100 men’s college basketball games on the docket. Some of those games will feature 50 possessions and others will top 90 trips down the floor. The competition can also vary wildly from game to game. The most lopsided NBA game can always stay competitive. Duke was favored by 43 points over lowly Stetson this season.
All of those factors lead to some of the wildest outcomes by teams and individual players over the course of a season. There’s real joy in watching a wild game, but there’s also a special something about seeing a crazy stat line come across your Twitter feed or pop out of the box score. With about a third of the season gone by, I’ve pulled together the six players most capable of posting stats that will make your head spin. (I have excluded Mike Daum of South Dakota State, because I am starting to infringe on the legal limits of how much I can write about one player before it gets weird.)
Chris Clemons, Campbell
Clemons leads the nation in scoring and, barring some mishap, will do so at season’s end. Though you’ve never heard of Campbell or seen Clemons play, you absolutely need to at least be aware of what the senior guard is capable of doing on the basketball court.
We should start by saying that Clemons is listed at 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds.
And then we can dive into his 31.4 points per game and gawk at some of his stat lines from this season. In the season opener against UNC-Wilmington, Clemons posted 44 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 steals in 41 minutes of play (including overtime, of course). He took 16 threes in that game and that was not his season high.
He topped that number against Georgetown, launching 19 (!) longballs. He made 9 of them, scoring 45 points and adding 8 rebounds and 3 assists. Clemons has scored at least 26 points against every Division I opponent Campbell has faced this season.
Clemons has a legitimate chance to be the first player to score 1,000 points in a season since Jimmer Fredette did so in 2011. Fredette is the only player to accomplish that feat in the last twenty years, but Clemons could join that exclusive club.
D’Mitrik Trice, Wisconsin
Remember Travis Trice from Michigan State? He was the East Region’s Most Outstanding Player as he lead Michigan State to the 2015 Final Four.
Well, his younger brother is a redshirt sophomore for Wisconsin, playing more than 32 minutes per game. This season, he’s scoring 17 points per game and may be the most efficient scorer in college hoops.
That’s a pretty easy statement to make given how well Trice is shooting from outside the arc this season. Through nine games, Trice has shot 30 for 50 from long range. This gives the Badger point guard the best outside shooting percentage in college basketball among players that have tried at least 35 deep balls. Just 11 players are sinking 60 percent from 3-point range in this early season, but Trice has attempted more than double the 3-pointers as every other player on that list.
Fletcher Magee, Wofford
I’ve written about Fletcher Magee before. I love Fletcher Magee.
Here’s why: last season he attempted 337 threes and made 44 percent of them. Magee went 11 for 19 (!!) from outside the arc last year at Chattanooga. He attempted 10 or more threes in 20 different games. Sometimes he’s hot, like his 8 for 14 night in a win over Georgia Tech. Sometimes, he’s not, like a 4 for 14 game against Western Carolina. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Fletcher Magee is gonna get his goddamned threes up.
Sadly, this year he’s been cold more often than he’d like. At Phog Allen Fieldhouse this past Saturday against mighty Kansas, Magee attempted nine threes. He missed all nine.
His season also includes outside shooting nights of 3 for 16 versus North Carolina and 2 for 11 versus South Carolina.
But there is good news. First, these numbers should recover. Magee had taken nearly 800 threes in his collegiate career before this season and made 44 percent of them. He won’t simply shoot 10 points worse this year out of the blue. A regression up toward the mean is coming, and dear God, hide the women and children when it does.
Second, in looking for players to include in this post, Magee was already well on my radar, yet I was skimming for other statistical marvels in the college basketball world. I performed a search, looking for the player who had attempted the most free throws without a miss so far this season.
Lo and behold, it’s Fletcher Magee. To date, he’s 23 for 23 from the stripe. Last season, he started the year 41 for 41, with his first miss coming on January 10. We’ll keep track of this moving forward. I, for one, hope he never misses again. If he goes perfect for the season, I’m willing to organize a GoFundMe to get him an Outback Steakhouse gift card.
Update: Last night, Wofford played NAIA school Kentucky Christian. I am happy to report that Fletcher Magee hit 8 for 12 from deep. The bounce back is here! I am terribly sad to report, however, that he not only missed a free throw, he shot 1 for 4 from the charity stripe! What the hell, Fletcher? I guess someone doesn’t like bloomin’ onions.
Matt Frierson, The Citadel
During Fletcher Magee’s swoon season, only two college basketball players are shooting more than 10 threes per game and making 40 percent of those looks. One is Matt Frierson from the Citadel, who is well beyond both of those thresholds. Frierson is hoisting 10.9 threes per game and making 47 percent of them! Prior to this year, Frierson was a volume shooter but only made 35.9 percent of his long distance attempts. Now he’s seemingly been possessed by the ghost of Pistol Pete.
It gets sillier than that. Frierson has put up 98 threes this season. He has taken just 3 two-pointers all year! For every two-point basket Frierson has shot this year, he’s taken 33 shots from outside the arc. By the way, he’s just one for three inside the arc. He’s better off from long range!
Frierson has also taken 10 free throws and made them all. He can be eligible for the Outback gift card too, I guess.
Sidenote: Frierson will play against Magee’s Wofford Terriers twice this season and against Clemons and the Campbell Camels (actual team name). Box score porn just waiting to happen in those match-ups.
Antoine Davis, Detroit
The only person attempting more threes than Frierson and making better than 40 percent? Antoine Davis. He’s tossing up 12.2 longballs per game and sinking 44 percent of them. In total, that sharpshooting helps Davis post 27.2 points per game, which he complements with 3.6 assists per night.
In researching this story, I was pretty amazed to discover what Davis is doing for tiny Detroit (formerly Detroit Mercy). Not to mention, he’s just a freshman. On top of all of that, he’s a WALK-ON.
Ok, now here’s the part where I crush your dreams. No, a random walk-on freshman is not dropping almost 30 a game out of nowhere at a little mid-major program. If you’re wondering how Detroit got such a productive player on its roster without using a scholarship, look now further than his last name. Antoine Davis is the son of Detroit head coach Mike Davis and his older brother, Mike Davis Jr., is an assistant coach. This must have been a pretty simple recruiting pitch.
But the reason Antoine ended up at the school matters far less than what he might do while playing there. Antoine Davis is averaging 37.7 minutes per game and has exceeded 30 points in 5 of his first 10 collegiate games. Davis gets a crack at the spotlight on December 21 when the Titans travel to Xavier. After that, Detroit will play four games against bottom 25 defenses in the nation in Horizon League conference play. Davis may have plenty more fireworks up his sleeve.
Demajeo Wiggins, Bowling Green
First off, I have a question.
Is his first name pronounced like Joe DiMaggio’s last name? If yes, great. Love it. If not, I don’t know how to pronounce his name.
More importantly, Wiggins is the most dominant rebounder in college basketball. He’s averaging 12.2 boards per contest. He has grabbed double-digit boards in every game but one this year, when he managed a measly nine rebounds.
This season, he’s converted a third of his offensive rebounds into putback opportunities, making Wiggins one of college basketball’s most efficient weapons. In total, he’s averaging 22.1 rebounds per 100 possessions, getting Bowling Green a host of extra possessions.
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and senior writer at PalestraBack.com. He has also contributed to ESPN.com, Rush The Court, Larry Brown Sports, and USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain. You can find every post from this blog on Twitter by following @PalestraBack.