Forecasting Statistical Leaders for Florida Gators basketball

Now more then ever, college basketball fans are intrigued by statistics. Numbers surround the game of basketball and using those digits to rank players has become the past time of fans everywhere. Analytics have become a hot topic, but the traditional box score statistics are still the first thing most fans, analysts, players, and coaches turn to for info. With the season just around the corner, I decided to take a look at who might lead the Gators in each statistical category, and what numbers I expect them to put up.

Points

Returning leading scorer KeVaughn Allen has to be the favorite. Given every offensive opportunity, whether or not he has the mindset to shoot significantly more then his 10.7 field goal attempts per game will determine how many points he can put up. Jalen Hudson could certainly be in the conversation for top scorer as the coaching staff has been bullish on his ability to put up points. Big production is also expected from Egor Koulechov, and what his 18.2 points per game average in Conference USA translates to in the SEC will be a fascinating study.

Projected Leader: KeVaughn Allen, 17.4 PPG

Assists

Point guards lead the way in this category for most teams, and Chris Chiozza shouldn’t be any different. He was a robust 2.3 assists per game more then the next leading returner in KeVaughn Allen, and with more minutes and opportunity that number should really grow. With Allen potentially playing some one he could be in the mix, but it will hard for him to match a true point guard in this category. Jalen Hudson and Keith Stone will be secondary playmakers on the roster and you’d hope they can put up some pleasant helping numbers, but this category belongs to Cheese.

Projected Leader: Chris Chiozza, 4.8 APG

Rebounds

You’d think this would have been a runaway for John Egbunu last season, but rangy Devin Robinson was able to keep the race close by only averaging 0.5 fewer boards than him. Kevarrius Hayes only averaged 4.4 rebounds last year in a little more then 18 minutes, so you’d like to see him improve there and have a shot at the lead. Could we see a wing lead the team in rebounding this season? Egor Koulechov grabbed a remarkable 8.9 rebounds per game last season at Rice, and though it would be highly unlikely he replicates that, his nose for the ball could lead him somewhere close to the 6.6 boards that Egbunu averaged last year. Rebounding could potentially be an issue for Florida this season, so let’s hope there are a few people vying for the lead.

Projected Leader: John Egbunu, 6.8 RPG

Steals

A big part of Florida basketball last season was the ability to get into the passing lanes, get steals, and throw down dunks on the other end. Kasey Hill was the leader in this category with 1.7 heists per game, but Allen and Chiozza were right on his tail with 1.3 apiece. Koulechov doesn’t have the length to contest many passes, but his great anticipation leads to a lot of deflections you wouldn’t expect. Look for active feet and active hands to lead to a lot of Gators points on the other end of the floor.

Projected Leader: Chris Chiozza, 1.6 SPG

Blocks

Only two Gators averaged more then one block per game, and as you could probably guess, it was the two primary big men John Egbunu and Kevarrius Hayes. Though Egbunu’s interior defense made the national college basketball radar, it was actually Hayes who came out on top averaging 1.7 blocks to Egbunu’s 1.5. Hayes was excellent at using his quick feet to rotate over and block shots from the weak side, while Egbunu used more of his natural size and explosiveness to get swats. Unfortunately for Egbunu, I think he won’t have the same explosiveness when he returns from injury, so I think Hayes will repeat as block king.

Projected Leader: Kevarrius Hayes, 1.8 BPG

Turnovers

The category no one wants to lead in. Kasey Hill was the runaway winner of this one last season, as his 3.1 turnovers per game was well ahead of second place John Egbunu at 1.8. Egbunu could be a candidate to lead here, as he may return without being fully adjusted to high-major college basketball pace, and when he enters the fire of SEC conference play he is sure to see lots of double teams. Chiozza and Allen might be the most likely candidates, as those two will have the ball in their hands the most and will be relied on to make lots of plays. This season, I think the Kasey Hill award stays with the guards.

Projected Leader: Chris Chiozza, 2.1 TO

Free Throw Shooting

Canyon Barry and KeVaughn Allen tied for the free throw crown last season both shooting 88.3% from the stripe, but I’ll give the edge to Barry because he had more attempts. If Allen can convert at the same rate he shouldn’t have much competition for this title, but Koulechov (81.9%) and Chiozza (78.8%) will hopefully push him here, as we all know the importance of strong free throw shooting as it relates to winning games.

Projected Leader: KeVaughn Allen, 87.4%

3-Point Shooting

This will be one of the best 3-point shooting teams Florida has had in a long time, with multiple players who can torch from beyond the arc. Allen, Hudson, Stone, and Chiozza are all players who will be hoisting plenty of deep balls, but the efficiency hasn’t always been there for them in the past. But even if all these players all show drastic improvement, it’s doubtful they will with be able to match Egor Koulechov. After hitting 47.4% of his triples at Rice he will almost undoubtedly be the leader here, the only question will be what percentage he shoots. Many people point at the competition difference between what he saw at Rice and what he’ll see with Florida, and although the SEC is definitely a much stronger league, Conference USA is no slouch and I fully expect Koulechov to still be one of the best shooters in the nation.

Projected Leader: Egor Koulechov, 44.3%

Who do you think will lead the Gators in these key categories? Do you think the leaders will average more or less then what I predicted? Leave a comment here or comment on the Gator Country forums.