College Basketball Preview: An unconventional look at some of our favorite players

NEW YORK NY - DECEMBER 20: John Shurna #24 of the Northwestern Wildcats loses the ball as he is fouled on a shot attempt by Dre Calloway #1 of the St. Francis Terriers during the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden on December 20 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)

Admit it. Maybe you see him on campus a few times a week, love his ball handling skills, or are just a glass-half-full type of guy. Because of this, your perception of your team's star player may be that of an inflated value.

The advent of sabermetrics in baseball has given way to tempo-neutral and new shooting percentage statistics in basketball. It makes player vs. player arguments far more difficult, because surely there’s some sort of silver lining in there when you crunch the numbers a bit further.

Peel back a player’s points-per-game average and maybe he's flawed with a troublesome effective FG percentage. Take a guy who likes to share but then take a look at his turnover-ratio.  Whatever the issue, there’s a different way to spin it for some of the game’s most notable players.

Not to be confused as overrated, here are five players to gush cautiously about for the upcoming season based on a number of often times overlooked statistics.

  • John Shurna (Northwestern) – There remains an outside chance that the Wildcats will contend for a program-first NCAA Tournament berth this season. If it occurs, it will be because John Shurna stuffs the stat sheet all season long. Offensively, Shurna is Northwestern's best player. The problem with Shurna’s game is that, as Bill Carmody’s first-option, he’s a bit too reliant on the three-point shot. Nearly 43 percent of Shurna’s total points came from beyond the arc last season, and he’s regressed in his 2pt FG percentage in each of his three seasons in Evansville.  It’s been a knock on the 6’9" forward his entire career, and the one pain point he’ll need to improve on if he hopes to play important games this March.
  • Scoop Jardine (Syracuse) – No overrated-type post would be complete without the enigmatic Syracuse guard. It’s been well chronicled that Jardine is a ripe feast-or-famine player, and his senior season could be the primary story line for Jim Boeheim’s team this season. Finishing second in the Big East last season in assists per game, Jardine actually wasn’t all that good producing points for the Orange. With an offensive rating of 105 last season (that’s points produced divided by possessions) Jardine was 66th in the Big East in this non-traditional statistic that shows a player’s overall contribution to a team’s offense. He also led the team in FG attempts despite being third in FGs made. Basically, there were many instances where Scoop was a hindrance rather than a help for this teammates.
  • Kenny Boynton (Florida) – Highly touted out of high school, Boynton’s quick trigger tendency manifested itself for the general public during the Gators 2011 NCAA Tournament run. He shot a whopping 26 three pointers in those four games (converting on just eight of them), with many classified as "errant." Boynton scored 17 or more points in 14 of the Gators games in 2010-2011, but also did things like shoot 4-31 from deep in the five games he scored in single digits. With an uber-talented backcourt, scoring less and defending more may be what constitutes a successful season for Boynton…and the Florida Gators.
  • Terrell Holloway (Xavier) – Most Xavier fans think I’m a tool and an atrocious writer based on a few recent posts I’ve written about their team. So when I decided to find a flaw in the nation’s most notable leading returning scorer and saw that it was the Musketeer point guard, I cringed a little bit. Holloway is the game’s best point guard. Better than Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor in that he is far more explosive and can create his own shot when needed. But Tu isn’t a very efficient scorer…at all. Despite his excellence in getting to the bucket, he only shot 34 percent from inside the arc last season (good for 846th in the nation) and posted an EFG of 50%. But he did average nearly 20 PPG last season and also led the Atlantic 10 in assists. With a nice recruiting class and three-point specialist Brad Redford back from injury, there are more options for Xavier to score, which should allow Holloway to serve as a volume playmaker rather than a volume shooter.
  • Kim English (Missouri) – I’m not sure if it’s because he’s got a great personality and takes full advantage showing that off via Twitter, but the Tigers senior guard may be hurting his team more than helping it on the offensive end. With the same number of turnovers as assists in 2010-2011, English "has gradually gotten worse over the, last two seasons," according to Blue Ribbon Report, finishing last year as the team’s fifth leading scorer but second biggest minute hog. There’s a lot to like about English, but a crowded Tigers backcourt could force Frank Haith to relegate English to the bench if his production remains stagnant.

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