Sports Illustrated has been predicting the upcoming season with some very interesting projections in a variety of categories using their statistical analysis and simulations. We have looked at the projections for the players in major statistical categories like points and assists as well as the projection for the top 50 freshmen. All of the projections have had some WCC players prominently featured, and the projection we are looking at today is no exception.
The projection we’re looking at today is of the top 50 breakout scorers. This projection ranked the top 50 players with the largest predicted increase in raw points per game based on their growth potential and the increased minutes and shots becoming available to them due to roster changes from last season. Two players from the WCC make the list, and both are among the top 20 players in this projection.
Coming in at #13 on the list is Lamond Murray Jr. of Pepperdine. While other freshmen like Jeremy Major got the bulk of attention last season, Murray quietly put up a respectable 4 points and 2.2 rebounds per game while averaging just over 10 minutes per game. The SI projection has his points jumping by 5.4 per game up to 9.8 this season.
The article points out his efficiency and aggressiveness during his limited minutes, as well as the fact that he is the highest ranked recruit currently on the Waves roster. They expect him to play a “critical role” in his second year. We agree that the changes on the Pepperdine roster and their need for support for their stars could provide a great opportunity for a player with as much raw talent as Murray Jr.
With Brendan Lane and Malcom Brooks gone, there is a lot of room for players like Murray Jr. to pick up more minutes. Lots of changes are in store for the Waves lineup as Marty Wilson gave a lot of guys looks last year. Murray Jr. was one of five bench players to average over 10 minutes per game, and two others averaged over 9 minutes.
Out of that group, Murray Jr. and Jett Raines were two or more successful frontcourt players and represent the best two candidates to take on a lot of minutes in place of Lane and Brooks. We are on the same page as SI in regards to Murray Jr. having the most potential due to his big numbers in high school. As a senior he averaged 22.3. and 9.6 rebounds, and anything close to that would be fantastic for the Waves considering they already have star Stacy Davis anchoring the frontcourt.
Guys likes Raines and freshman A.J. John could have a thing or two to say about this prediction, but SI seems to think Murray Jr. gets first crack at being the main guy behind Davis down low. It’s not a bad prediction, but to match these numbers he will have to grab hold of a starting spot and hold off the other contenders all season to make it come true.
The other WCC player on the list is T.J. Wallace of Pacific who comes in at #20. As the articles hints at, this is a “breakout-by-necessity” due to the large amount of losses the Tigers suffered from last season. The projection has Wallace going up 4.7 points per game from 7 to 11 thanks in large part to him being the only returning rotation player the Tigers have.
Of the eight players that averaged double digit minutes per game for the Tigers last year, Wallace is the only returning player. Six of the others graduated, and the seventh transferred. When you’re decimated like that, it’s a given the only returning experienced player should see significant increases in scoring potential. And for the Tigers, Wallace is that guy.
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That being said, this isn’t some average player picking up more points just because he’s getting more player time. Wallace is a legitimate player who can get buckets. Last year he averaged under 20 minutes per game, but his 7 points per game wasn’t far behind the team leader. Just three players averaged double figures with Tony Gill leading the way with 11.4 per game.
Wallace is going to be shooting a lot. Even if he only hits shots at the same rate as last year, he would easily reach and even surpass the 11 points per game projected by SI if he goes up to playing 30-35 minutes per game. He could end up even higher up on the final list of breakout scorers between his ability and the amount of shots and playing time he is going to get. The lack of depth on a bad team which will allow opponents to target him is the only thing that could hold him back. But he will still get plenty of shots to put up decent numbers.