As we gear up for college basketball season, a handful of writers at Rant Sports will preview different topics. Here’s the Rant Sports NCAAB Season Preview: Nation’s Top 5 Returning Scorers, taking an up close look at returnees with the five-highest scoring averages from the 2011-12 season.
5. Frank Gaines, R-Sr., IPFW — Not only does he play for one of the nation’s coolest nicknamed teams — Mastodons? Really? — but Frank Gaines is also one of the nation’s top returning scorers. With a 21.2-point average in 2011-12, he comes in just behind Nate Wolters. Gaines’ scoring couldn’t propel his Mastodons out of the Summit League’s basement, but the fifth-year senior dominated down the stretch last year, averaging 28.3 points in the final six games.
4. Nate Wolters, Sr., South Dakota State — Wolters is much more than a scorer. He’s actually one of the better point guards in the nation, dishing out 5.9 assists per game as a junior. But of all the point guards in the nation, none can score the ball like Wolters, who averaged 21.2 points per game in 2011-12. The floor general topped 30 points six times last year.
3. C.J. McCollum, Sr., Lehigh — After scoring 30 points in Lehigh’s first round win over Duke, McCollum could have bolted for the NBA. But he chose to return, and his 21.9-point average as a junior pits him at No. 3 on this list. McCollum’s breakout freshman season put him in position to score a ton of points at the collegiate level — he’s currently at 2,074. Chances are he won’t become the eighth player to eclipse the 3,000 mark, but if McCollum duplicates his sophomore season — can’t look at last year because of Lehigh’s run to the tournament — he’d finish with 2,751 points, good for No. 17 all-time.
2. Shane Gibson, R-Sr., Sacred Heart — Like Gaines, Gibson is a scorer on a bad team. But he’s a very talented scorer, who not only averaged 22 points per game but also shot 51 percent from the floor, 43.3 percent from deep and 86.2 percent from the stripe. He started “slow,” averaging “just” 17.9 points through 11 games. Then he scored less than 20 points just three times the rest of the way to average 24.2 points over the final 21 games. That mark, over the course of a full season, would have pitted him at No. 3, just behind graduate Reggie Hamilton and lottery pick Damian Lillard.
1. Doug McDermott, Jr., Creighton — McDermott is a rare talent. At 6-foot-7, he can score in any imaginable way — with his back to the basket, on the drive, from three, etc. He shot 60.1 percent from the floor and nailed 54-of-111 treys for a 48.6 percentage. The rising junior got off to a torrid start last year, averaging 25.4 points through the first 11 games, but he barely cooled down. McDermott still dropped 44 against Bradley, 36 against Long Beach State and 33 in the MVC championship game.