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Offenders Most Foul

It’s not a category anyone should want to be known for.

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NCAA Basketball: North Carolina State at Clemson
Mar 1, 2017; Clemson, SC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack guard Dennis Smith Jr. (4) drives to the basket while being defended by Clemson Tigers forward Elijah Thomas (14) during the first half at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina’s Isaiah Hicks never could get the hang of playing without injudicious fouling during his college career, as coach Roy Williams liked to mention. His 119 personals in 39 games last season led the ACC, clearly suppressing his effectiveness. He had 121 in 40 games in 2016.

The top returnee in total personal fouls, NC State’s Abdul-Malik Abu, committed 100 in 2017. The senior forward did that in 32 games, meaning he averaged more per game (3.13) than Hicks (3.05).

Surely some of Abu’s booboos were of the casual or thoughtless variety. But it was also a matter of oncourt offensive survival for the Wolfpack’s big men to get the ball by banging the boards, sometimes with foul-attracting abandon. Guard Dennis Smith did many things well, but feeding the post was not one of them.

With a different point guard, assuming new coach Kevin Keatts readily settles on one, Abu should cut down on his fouls as a senior leader in ‘18.

Among total fouls leaders, the returning ACC leader in average per-game personals was Elijah Thomas. The Clemson post player accumulated an impressive 3.54 personals per contest, meaning he was perpetually in foul trouble. He led the league with seven disqualifications.

Comparable problems plagued Wake’s Bryant Crawford. Worse in his case, Crawford is a guard. Playing away from the basket, guards tend not to draw fouls. Crawford has been an exception, a sloppy distinction he needs to shed if he’s to become the backcourt force his skills suggest – 14th in ACC scoring in 2017, second in assists, tied for sixth in steals, ninth among official free throw leaders. Unfortunately, his three disqualifications and 2.82 fouls per game paced the Demon Deacons.

Top Personal Foul Totals Among Returnees
Fouls Player, School PF/Game
100 Abdul-Malik Abu, NCS 3.13
94 Josh Okogie, BC 2.54
93 Bryant Crawford, WF 2.82
89 Mo Jeffers, BC 2.78
89 Jerome Robinson, BC 2.78
88 Jack Salt, V 2.59
88 Ray Spalding, UL 2.59
87 Keyshawn Woods, WF 2.64
86 Cam Johnson, NC 2.61
85 Elijah Thomas, C 3.54
85 Ben Lammers, GT 2.30

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