So far in this study, we've focused on three perimeter scores who have the ability to score from deep and a growing interest in getting to the rim. That wasn't planned, it just kind of broke out that way as we move upward through the classes. Now we land with our first big man, veteran forward Jalen Reynolds, who I speculated earlier in the week could be an All-American in the upcoming season. Let's see if the numbers back up my rhetorical hubris.
Jalen was good for a game line of 9.9/6.1/0.4 on .618/.000/.663 shooting last season, representing a nice progression from his freshman year. Of his top 5 matches on KenPom, one was UNC's Kennedy Meeks in the 2014-2015 season, and another was Saint Mary's Tim Williams, who promptly lost the rest of his career to knee injuries. That leaves us with three fairly solid comparisons to Jalen Reynolds, none of whom was an All-American:
The top performer: Brice Johnson, North Carolina (875)
Johnson is a good ballplayer who has enjoyed steady development in his time at Chapel Hill. He's a better passer and defender than Reynolds, but they both get after the glass and score in similar ways. Johnson's sophomore-junior step wasn't as big as his freshman-sophomore one, but he had the kind of year that made it newsworthy that he was returning for a senior campaign.
The middle road: Brady Jardine, Utah State (905)
Full disclosure: Brady Jardine is probably my favorite obscure non-Xavier player of all time. My wilder youth consisted of being able to stay up late and watch west coast basketball on TV, and Brady Jardine put the ball down as hard as just about anyone this side of... well, Jalen Reynolds. His offensive game wasn't as refined as Jalen's, but he was a relentless rim runner and a monster on the boards. His career ended with a Lisfranc fracture in his foot three games into his senior year.
The guy who got exposed: Mitchell Young, Saint Mary's (887)
This title isn't completely fair to Young, actually. He was part of the same front court as the aforementioned Tim Williams; when Williams went down, Young tried to come back too soon from some fairly serious groin problems. He struggled with that and the increased defensive attention all season before pulling it together for a respectable but unspectacular senior year.
It's hard to say exactly what to do with these numbers. Jardine and Young were both mid-major players who had extenuating circumstances in the latter parts of their careers. Brice Johnson is a top-tier recruit at a high-major school who looks to be heading for a productive four-year stay on campus. I think I'm going to go with my eyeballs rather than the algorithms on this one and pencil Jalen in for that big year we were discussing on Monday.