yardbarker
RealGM Basketball

VCU Rams BlogVCU Rams Blog

Troy Daniels Pursuing NBA Dream In D-League

The D-League All-Star teams are littered with names that have seen NBA action or are well known to those who follow college basketball, but perhaps the most unfamiliar name on the roster is having the most historic season thus far.

Troy Daniels has taken the D-League by storm, already breaking the record for made three-pointers in a season. He’s buried 167 treys in only 31 games, averaging more than five made shots from deep per contest. As the D-League’s fifth leading scorer, Daniels is averaging 23.2 points per game while shooting 42 percent from the field and 41 percent from three.

“I really wasn’t surprised because of what I’ve been doing in the D-League, but I felt great about it,” Daniels told RealGM of the All-Star selection. “I feel that it was an honor to be an All-Star in the D-League because there’s a lot of great players in the D-League.”

After his senior season at VCU where he averaged 12.3 points per game and drilled a school-record 124 three-pointers, Daniels wasn’t selected in the 2013 NBA Draft. He spent the Summer League with the Charlotte Bobcats and averaged 6.7 points per game while shooting 42 percent from behind the arc, but was released after the conclusion of the event.

The Houston Rockets signed Daniels in training camp shortly before releasing him with the intention of making Daniels a part of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers squad. And the move has been a huge success for both sides.

Daniels is scoring almost twice as many points per game compared to his senior season and has become the most lethal three-point shooter in the league. His 62 percent true shooting percentage is second among guards who have played more than 13 D-League games this year.

“It’s just confidence and knowing that you can go out there and do it,” Daniels said of the scoring increase. “You have to have belief in yourself, and I’m a big believer in that.”

Meanwhile, the Vipers sit atop the D-League standings with a 23-8 record and will go into the All-Star break with a three-game cushion over the Iowa Energy. If Daniels stays in the D-League for the rest of the year his goal is simple: Win a D-League championship.

“It may not be everyone’s dream, but everybody wants to win a championship at some point in time. That’s definitely my goal for this season,” he said.

But with the way Daniels is playing, an NBA call-up might be on the horizon.

Nearly 20 NBA teams have been in contact with the 6-foot-4, 200 pound guard and Daniels could see action at the next level this season if a team is looking to replace an injured shooter. His jumper helps space the floor because of the tight coverage that defenders are forced to play. Daniels may have a tougher time finding open looks in each game, but his presence alone creates lanes for teammates to penetrate.

Daniels added, “I believe I can bring a great shooter, a great teammate, and a great player all-around [to an organization] as far as playing defense and being a threat on the offensive end. I feel that I can help a lot of NBA teams in that aspect as far as shooting too.”

Naturally, Daniels studies some of the great shooters to play in the NBA such as Stephen Curry, Reggie Miller and Ray Allen. Danny Green had a similar path when he spent a total of 17 games in the D-League before going on to break the NBA Finals record for made three-pointers in a series last season. The way Green has performed could eventually help pave the way for Daniels to earn a call-up.

“It motivates me a lot. It lets me know that I also have a chance like [Green] had,” said Daniels. “I feel like if he made it then I can definitely make it too.”

Although teams will be drawn to his jump shot, Daniels is working to become a complete player. He’s primarily working on the defensive end of the floor because of the new defensive schemes used at the professional level in addition to his handle for the ball. If Daniels shows the ability to play either guard spot, it would certainly enhance his NBA stock.

This weekend, he’ll compete in the Boost Mobile NBA D-League All-Star Three-Point Competition in addition to the game itself. After winning the Hampton Hotels Men’s 3-Point Competition in college, Daniels sees this as an opportunity to validate his shooting resume.

“My expectation is to win,” said Daniels. “I feel that I have to defend my title. I won the three-point contest in college so I feel like I have to defend my own title. I feel like I’m the best shooter in the D-League so I have to live up to that hype too.”

As the best shooter in the D-League, Daniels could see his NBA dream become a reality very soon. Until then, he’ll continue to rewrite the record books while raining threes for a championship contending squad.

Andrew Wiggins To Kansas And A Top 25 Update

6/3 Update: With Tarik Black joining the fold, Kansas moved up to #5 in my model. Rather than issue an entirely new Top 25, I decided to update this post. This now also includes a few other changes such as DeAndre Kane backing out of his commitment at Pitt, JJ Moore finally officially transferring from Pitt, while Joseph Uchebo enrolling at Pitt from junior college.

Pred Off, PredDef, PredPythag: The predicted points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and predicted winning percentage against an average D1 team on a neutral floor.

Returning Minutes, Possessions: The loss of high possession players can be a larger detriment to the offense, thus I list percentage of returning possessions in addition to returning minutes.

T100: Number of players who were Top 100 recruits out of high school. People focus on Top 100 freshmen, but Top 100 players are also more likely to become breakout stars later in their career.

Last Pythag: Last year’s Pythagorean winning percentage according to Kenpom.com. This is essentially a measure of each team’s margin-of-victory in 2012-13.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Rank

Team

Pred Off

Pred Def

Pred Pyth

Ret Min

Ret Poss

T100

Last Pyth

1

Kentucky

123.6

92.5

0.9512

44%

42%

9

0.8157

2

Michigan St.

117.0

87.6

0.9507

83%

83%

8

0.9361

3

Florida

115.7

87.2

0.9479

55%

52%

7

0.9700

4

Louisville

115.4

87.4

0.9452

72%

72%

8

0.9752

5

Kansas

114.2

88.8

0.9295

23%

23%

9

0.9385

6

Arizona

116.2

91.2

0.9231

44%

42%

7

0.9089

7

Duke

115.4

90.6

0.9228

58%

50%

10

0.9438

8

Michigan

117.4

92.2

0.9226

62%

53%

6

0.9483

9

Oklahoma St.

113.6

89.3

0.9224

89%

93%

5

0.8815

10

N. Carolina

114.3

89.8

0.9224

69%

73%

10

0.8676

With the #1 high school recruit Andrew Wiggins in the fold, Kansas is once again the Big 12 favorite. Just look at the high school recruiting ranks of Kansas’ potential starting lineup:

PG Naadir Tharpe (RSCI #91 player in 2011)

SG Wayne Selden (ESPNU #14 in 2013)

SF Andrew Wiggins (ESPNU #1 in 2013)

PF Perry Ellis (RSCI #31 in 2012)

C Joel Embiid (up to #6 in ESPNU Top 100, though lower in other rankings).

Bench: Brannen Greene (ESPNU #47 in 2013), Conner Frankamp (ESPNU #46 in 2013), and Andrew White (RSCI #52 in 2012)

That’s a pretty special group of talent. But we need to be cautious before we label Kansas a Final Four favorite. This team is exceptionally young. None of these players have ever played more than 15 minutes per game at the college level.

And unlike Kentucky (where the recruiting class is filled with Top 10 recruits), many of these guys are more likely to produce down the road. Guys at Greene and Frankamp’s level of the rankings are more likely to become stars as sophomores or juniors than as freshmen. Embiid would appear to be a “sure thing” as a Top 10 recruit, but even the people who are raving about Embiid have described him as a raw talent. They expect him to blossom in 2014-2015, not dominate right away. When you add in the fact that PG Naadir Tharpe struggled with his shot last season, it is clear that Kansas doesn’t have the perfect lineup.

But it might be the perfect lineup for Andrew Wiggins. With so many young players, he will be the clear leader. Much like Texas with Kevin Durant, Kansas players will realize that the team can only achieve its lofty goals by getting Wiggins the ball. And he should be able to carry the team to another Big 12 title.

Of course, Kevin Durant lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2007. And with its physical play, college basketball is not a sport that always showcases transcendent players. And after crunching the numbers, my model projects Kansas as the 8th best team in the nation.

Vegas will likely give Kansas better odds than what I have below. But Vegas is calculating the odds of winning a title. I am interested in measuring the quality over the full season, including November and December when Kansas’ young players will struggle with the adjustment to the college game. The model concludes that with Bill Self at the helm, Kansas will have an elite defense. He is the best in the business at getting new players to commit on that end of the court. But with so many young players, there will be offensive mistakes. Players will take bad shots. Players will commit silly turnovers. And the model projects Kansas’s offensive efficiency to be worse than some of the other elite teams.

The addition of Andrew Wiggins isn’t the only thing to shake up my model’s Top 25 since the end of April. Yesterday I documented how the addition of Eli Carter moves Florida up to the Top 3 in my model. And I wrote about how the loss of Trae Golden dropped Tennessee out of the Top 25. But here are some details on some other teams that have changed since my late April update.

Rest of Top 25:

11.Wisconsin

12.Virginia

13.Ohio St.

14.Iowa

15.Connecticut

16.Georgetown

17.Syracuse

18.UCLA

19.New Mexico

20.Marquette

21.Gonzaga

22.VCU

23.Memphis

24.Baylor

25.Pittsburgh

Into the Top 25

Memphis continues to be one of the bigger movers in the rankings. When I first ran the projections model in early April, I assumed Memphis would have Tarik Black, Shaq Goodwin, and Top 40 recruits Austin Nichols and Kuran Iverson in the front-court. And the model projected Memphis at 16th nationally. But then Tarik Black transferred, and that had multiple consequences. First, Nichols and Iverson had slightly lower expectations than Black, who was an efficient player for three years with the Tigers. With Black gone, Nichols and Iverson would each have to play more minutes. And second, it became more likely that Memphis would have to give some backup front-court minutes to a player like HippolyteTsafack. Tsafack was not a Top 100 recruit out of high school and has had multiple knee injuries limiting him to less than 20 total games in his career. Both these factors lowered the projected offense and defense for the Tigers.

When I re-ran my model (without Black and Antonio Barton who also transferred,) Memphis fell to 29th. But when Memphis added George Washington forward and graduate school transfer David Pellom and Top 100 high school recruit Dominic Woodson, the Tigers immediately upgraded their front-court depth and the model moved Memphis back up to 23rd.

Meanwhile, guard Allerik Freeman was one of the only uncommitted Top 100 high school recruits at the end of April. He recently committed to Baylor. Baylor guard Deuce Bello (who struggled mightily last season posting an ORtg of 86) saw the writing on the wall with Freeman coming in, and elected to transfer. The upgrade from Bello to Freeman moved Baylor from 28th to 24th in my model. Even though the model remains skeptical of Baylor head coach Scott Drew, the Bears have reached the point where even an inconsistent coach should have Top 25 expectations.

In my initial Top 25 and post NBA early entry Top 25, I have profiled all of the other Top 25 teams, but I haven’t discussed Baylor yet, so allow me to do that here:

Baylor’s front court remains one of the strongest in the nation with Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson. But the team also welcomes back rising sophomore Ricardo Gathers who was seriously under-utilized last year and could easily become a star in his own right. And prized forward recruit Dominic Woodson should also provide solid post minutes off the bench.

The biggest question is the point guard position. And while no single player can replace Pierre Jackson, Baylor does have three fairly nice options. First, even though Gary Franklin hasn’t been efficient throughout his career, he was a Top 100 recruit out of high school and remains a high potential player. Second, JUCO transfer Kenny Chery should be steady, even if he doesn’t dominate. And third, Brady Heslip may be able to provide some minutes at the position. Heslip may not be able to create much, but paired with a player like Freeman in the back-court, he could certainly be counted on for basic ball-handling duties. Throw in prized recruit Ishmail Wainwright and the possible late development of LJ Rose (a highly ranked high school player who still has high potential), and the model can no longer keep Baylor out of the Top 25.

Moving Up

Recently VCU added Florida St. graduate transfer Terrance Shannon. Shannon was not super-efficient at FSU, but the step down in completion should help some. And he makes a difference for VCU because Jarred Guest and Justin Tuoyo were not impressive last year. In net, VCU improves from 24th to 22nd with Shannon replacing Tuoyo who elected to transfer.

I’ve seen experts write how the addition of DeAndre Kane could have made Pittsburgh an NCAA tournament team, suggesting they are closer to 45th. But the tempo free numbers love James Robinson, Lamar Patterson, and Talib Zanna. That said, I believe you can make a case that the tempo free numbers are wrong here. Kenpom.com may have had Pittsburgh 11th last season, but they only received an 8-seed in the NCAA tournament. And even though Pitt finished 12-6 in the Big East last year which made all of their numbers look good, they didn’t really beat quality teams late in the year to justify a strong seed.  For example, Pitt’s big win at Georgetown which helped inflate their margin-of-victory numbers came early in the conference season before Georgetown figured out its offense. I understand why the numbers like Pitt, but I also understand why most experts are skeptical of their inclusion in the Top 25 at this point.

The team that should have “could” make the tournament attached to it is Oregon. While adding graduate school transfer Mike Moser improves the Ducks expectations substantially, they still seem to be missing the pieces they need to be a winning team in the Pac-12. I will have more to say about Oregon and the Pac-12 in a future week.

2012 Colonial Athletic Association Power Rankings

Drexel finished ahead of VCU, George Mason and Old Dominion to win the 2012 CAA regular season championship. While George Mason was ranked a distant fifth despite finishing 14-4, Drexel, VCU and ODU were virtually identical statistically.

In order to determine our team rankings, we calculate the difference between a team's own FIC per game and their opponents' FIC for the entire conference season.

The FIC is a single statistical measurement that encompasses things such as scoring efficiency, rebounding, blocked shots, etc. Its purpose is to combine the box score into one statistic, both on a team level and for players.

1. Old Dominion: 19.10  
2. Virginia Commonwealth: 19.03  
3. Drexel: 18.44  
4. Georgia State: 9.25  
5. George Mason: 8.26  
6. Delaware: 3.81  
7. Northeastern: -5.19  
8. Hofstra: -7.95  
9. North Carolina-Wilmington: -11.52  
10. James Madison: -12.08  
11. William & Mary: -14.88  
12. Towson: -26.29

Top NCAA Coaches Of Past Five Years

There are a lot of complicated ways to evaluate college coaches, but in this edition we look at the coaches with the best per possession numbers over the last five years.

Harry Potter And The 2011 NCAA Tournament

Unlike books and films, sports is always unscripted entertainment and the good guys don't win every time. Let's look at how that relates to the schools (beyond UConn) that should celebrate their March success.

12 Compelling Storylines From Exempt Events

Here are 12 under-the-radar reasons to watch the smaller November tournaments of the 11-12 NCAA Basketball season.

On The NCAA Tournament (Day 2)

Kyrie Irving's return, Gus Johnson's Mom, why Georgetown was Friday's biggest loser, plus Texas' expectations remain relatively stagnant.

Best Individual Games Of 10-11 NCAA Season

Jared Sullinger, Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette have each had some of the best single games in the country this seaosn.

 

Basketball Wiretap Headlines

    NBA Wiretap Headlines

      NCAA Wiretap Headlines

        MLB Wiretap Headlines

          NFL Wiretap Headlines

            NHL Wiretap Headlines

              Soccer Wiretap Headlines