Sports Illustrated has been posting some great content recently previewing the college basketball season including an some interesting stat projections. In October they released a great piece projecting the top players points, rebounds, and assists. It’s a great read in large part because of how impressively dominant the WCC is on the lists. In fact the WCC has the top player in two of those categories and the number two player in the other.
We already talked about Tyler Haws of BYU being the projected scorer, and now we will look at Chris Anderson of San Diego who projects as the national leader in assists. SI has him putting up 6.5 assists per game, best in the nation and with a comfortable lead over the 6.2 assists projected for second place.
Last year Anderson easily led the WCC with 6.2 assists per game. It was almost a full assist per game better than second place, and good for 11th in the nation. With a full year left in his collegiate career, Anderson is already San Diego’s career leader in assists. An increase from 6.2 to 6.5 assists for him is an easy feat, and it might even be conservative with the talent around him.
Feb 6, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Toreros guard Christopher Anderson (0) calls plays during the first half against the San Francisco Dons at Jenny Craig Pavillion. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
The only question is will that really be enough to lead the nation? The projections put up very conservative numbers for assists when compared to last season. Putting up 6.5 assists per game would have only been good enough for 6th in the nation last year, and three players put up over 7 assists per game including the national leader averaging 10 per game. If Anderson puts up 6.5 per game he would be near the top and almost certainly lead the WCC in the category, but best in the nation might be tough.
But we won’t complain about a legitimate statistical projection by a huge publication like Sports Illustrated saying Anderson will be the best. Even if he doesn’t lead the nation statistically, he proved long ago he’s arguably the best assist man in the WCC right now. Due to his height, he has to get creative with how he plays. You can see it in his offense in the way he drives to the hoop around bigger players, but it also affects his assist ability.
Anderson knows how to find space. Like any great assists man, he sees small windows others might not recognize. And he also has the ability to put the ball in those spaces like a quarterback might the thread the needle with a pass in tight coverage. Unlike many players who hit the court looking for baskets, you can tell Anderson looks to make his teammates better. He has been doing it his whole collegiate career, and he should go down as one of the best assists men the WCC has ever seen.
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One of favorite up and coming WCC players also made SI’s top 20 as Jeremy Major of Pepperdine came in 14th with a projection of 4.8 assists per game. Major finished 5th in the WCC with 4.5 per game as a freshman last year, and we expect big things from him as grows in his second college season. The projection must feel the same way as that number would Major second in the WCC behind Anderson. This is despite the fact that both Kyle Collinsworth of BYU and Alec Wintering of Portland are both coming back. They had 4.6 and 4.5 assists per game last year, and they are on stacked teams that should provide lots of assists opportunities.
Regardless of how the real stats shake out, the WCC again has a great group of elite guards who know how to dish out assists. And it’s a safe bet at least a couple finish among the national leaders.