Roughly one-third through the regular season, Virginia Tech guard Erick Green leads the ACC – he’s lapping the field, in fact – and ranks second nationally in scoring at 24.8 points per game. The primary question is, what are his chances of maintaining, or even exceeding, that pace?
Secondarily, might he, at season’s end, finish ahead of renowned scorers such as Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum, Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan?
Although Green trails McCollum by a scant one point – both have played 10 games, with McCollum at 249 points, Green 248 – history says Green will not lead the country. That distinction is usually reserved for those who compete in leagues less rugged than the ACC or other majors such as the Big Ten, Big East and Big 12.
The last major conference player to lead Division I in scoring was Purdue’s Glenn Robinson in 1994. The only ACC player to do so was South Carolina’s Grady Wallace in 1957.
McCollum, a 6-foot-3 senior like Green, is far more likely to score at his current rate, or higher, simply because Green will encounter far more defensive resistance in the ACC than McCollum will in the Patriot League.
Similarly, McDermott (23.7 points per game) and Canaan (21.3) don’t face ACC-caliber defenses in the Missouri Valley and Ohio Valley, respectively.
Indeed, in the last 20 years, only one ACC player has averaged more than 23 points per game. That was Duke’s J.J. Redick, 26.8 in 2006.
Plus, take it from someone who sat courtside last March when he scored 30 against Duke in an epic NCAA tournament upset, McCollum’s game translates against any college competition, and likely the pros.
By the way, Division I’s top scorer has averaged at least 25.6 points each season since 2000, when Fresno State’s Courtney Alexander, a transfer from Virginia, led the nation at 24.8. Three players from the state -- Richmond’s Bob McCurdy (32.9 in 1975), VMI’s Jason Conley (29.3 in 2002) and VMI’s Reggie Williams (28.1 in 2007 and 27.8 in 2008) – led Division I in scoring average.
Green has a far better chance of leading the ACC. He averages 34.8 minutes and 15 shots per game for the 8-2 Hokies, and only Duke’s Mason Plumlee (19.2 points per game) is within eight points of his average.
He is very unlikely to approach the Tech record for season scoring average of 26.6, set by Bimbo Coles in 1989.
The most impressive elements of Green’s start: He’s shooting 51.7 percent, extraordinary for a guard, and has scored at least 21 points in every game.
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