Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Top Small Forwards in College Basketball This Year

Note: While and analytics flagging Chattanooga's Malachi Smith as the 2nd best small forward in the country, we have been informed that in fact he plays point guard - where he would also rank as the 2nd best player at the country barely behind Villanova's Collin Gillespie. We will update for his next post, but we would still consider Smith a 2nd Team All-American at this point - just at a different position. (The analytics are thrown off because he grabs so many defensive rebounds that he appears to be a small forward rather than a point guard statistically).

 In Value Add Basketball we consider the team's "small forward" the player who has some combination of more defensive rebounds, blocked shots and height than two guards on the team, and typically more assists and steals then the two players on the team we consider the center and power forward. In many cases in modern basketball this is really a third guard, but either way it is the "3" position on the court.  (for a summary of the top players at each position, click here).

Because calculates how many points per game a player improves his team compared to if a typical replacement player took his place, the raw value add is adjusted by position since the replacement player would be at the same position. Therefore, once the formulas are run, and other positions are adjusted, but the average Small Forward actually is right about the average overall player, so their calculations are not adjusted before being entered at  at

In general, freshmen make so many mistakes (turnovers, bad shots etc.) the first half of the season that they do not rank nearly as high as more experienced players. However, they tend to improve more at the end of the season, so we watch for breakout freshmen first when looking at brackets. Therefore we start with the 10 most valuable freshmen small forwards in college basketball, starting with one of three Arizona players we would put on the Freshman All-American team - Bennedict Mathurin - who improves his team by 7.32 points per game. This means Arizona would have LOST any game that they won by fewer than seven points if he had not played..

In his case, he improves the Arizona's offense by 5.55 points per game, while his defensive rating of -1.77 indicates he takes one to two points more away from the opposing team then a typical replacement small forward. Here are the most valuable 10 freshmen small forwards through games of February 15.

RnkTop Freshmen Small ForwardsTeamVA5ConfHtTextCl
9Bennedict Mathurin #0Arizona7.32P126'6"Fr
17Kendall Brown #2Baylor6.07B126'8"Fr
38Ricky Council #4Wichita St.4.97Amer6'6"Fr
53Alijah Martin #15Florida Atlantic4.41CUSA6'2"Fr
56Jadon Jones #12Long Beach St.4.4BW6'5"Fr
90Zeke Mayo #2South Dakota St.3.44Sum6'3"Fr
93Houston Mallette #0Pepperdine3.41WCC6'5"Fr
100Caleb Houstan #22Michigan3.28B106'8"Fr
101Bryce McGowens #5Nebraska3.27B106'7"Fr
105Ra'Heim Moss #0Toledo3.21MAC6'4"Fr

If you were picking an All-American team based by position, the Small Forward or "3" spot would be the toughest choice. Mathurin certainly is close enough to the top players to be considered due to freshmen surging at the end of the year. However, Wisconsin's Johnny Davis, San Diego State's Matt Bradley, Chattanooga's Malachi Smith, Loyola's Lucas Williamson and Iowa State's Izaiah Brockingham could all be serious considered as the most valuable small forward in college basketball.
RnkTop Overall Small Forwards (3)TeamVA5ConfHtTextCl
1Matt Bradley #3San Diego St.9.3MWC6'4"Sr
2Malachi Smith #13Chattanooga8.84SC6'4"So
3Ochai Agbaji #30Kansas8.6B126'5"Sr
4Lucas Williamson #1Loyola Chicago8.28MVC6'4"Sr
5Johnny Davis #1Wisconsin7.9B106'5"So
6Izaiah Brockington #1Iowa St.7.79B126'4"Sr
7Keon Ellis #14Alabama7.48SEC6'6"Sr
8Wendell Moore #0Duke7.34ACC6'5"Jr
9Bennedict Mathurin #0Arizona7.32P126'6"Fr
10Darryl Morsell #32Marquette7.04BE6'5"Sr
11George Papas #5Monmouth7.04MAAC6'5"Sr
12Tevin Brown #10Murray St.6.92OVC6'5"Jr
13Isiaih Mosley #1Missouri St.6.58MVC6'5"Jr
14Julian Strawther #0Gonzaga6.49WCC6'7"So
15Kameron McGusty #23Miami FL6.4ACC6'5"Sr
16Davonte Gaines #3George Mason6.08A106'7"Jr
17Kendall Brown #2Baylor6.07B126'8"Fr
18Colby Jones #3Xavier6.04BE6'6"So
19Mark Smith #13Kansas St.6.04B126'4"Sr
20Jules Bernard #1UCLA5.94P126'7"Sr
21Kyler Edwards #11Houston5.91Amer6'4"Sr
22Taz Sherman #12West Virginia5.88B126'4"Sr
23Teddy Allen #0New Mexico St.5.85WAC6'6"Jr
24Johnny Juzang #3UCLA5.78P126'7"Jr
25Cam Spencer #12Loyola MD5.78Pat6'4"Jr
26Aaron Estrada #4Hofstra5.74CAA6'3"Jr
27Daylen Kountz #1Northern Colorado5.7BSky6'4"Sr
28Hakim Hart #13Maryland5.66B106'8"Jr
29Tyler Burton #3Richmond5.59A106'7"Jr
30De'Monte Buckingham #10UNC Greensboro5.49SC6'4"Sr
31Brandon Slater #3Villanova5.45BE6'7"Sr
32Sasha Stefanovic #55Purdue5.37B106'5"Sr
33Adrian Delph #20Appalachian St.5.3SB6'3"Sr
34Kellan Grady #31Kentucky5.13SEC6'5"Sr
35Drew Peterson #13USC5.07P126'9"Jr
36Tanner Holden #2Wright St.5.04Horz6'6"Jr
37Drake Jeffries #0Wyoming5.01MWC6'5"Sr
38Ricky Council #4Wichita St.4.97Amer6'6"Fr
39Charles Pride #5Bryant4.92NEC6'4"Jr
40Hyunjung Lee #1Davidson4.88A106'7"Jr
41Andrew Jones #1Texas4.88B126'4"Sr
42Chuck O'Bannon #5TCU4.87B126'6"Sr
43Taze Moore #4Houston4.84Amer6'5"Sr
44Gabe Brown #44Michigan St.4.77B106'8"Sr
45Jared Rhoden #14Seton Hall4.76BE6'6"Sr
46Ethan Wright #14Princeton4.61Ivy6'4"Sr
47Erik Stevenson #10South Carolina4.6SEC6'4"Sr
48David Jones #32DePaul4.59BE6'6"So
49Alex O'Connell #5Creighton4.53BE6'6"Sr
50Kane Williams #12Georgia St.4.52SB6'4"Sr

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