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Cashing In At The Line: Who Really Does It Best?

Not necessarily who you might think

Miami v Duke
 DURHAM, NC - JANUARY 21: Tyrese Proctor #5 of the Duke Blue Devils prepares to shoot a free throw during their game against the Miami Hurricanes at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 21, 2023 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 68-66.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

As usual, several of the ACC’s top free throw shooters are invisible to the unassisted eye. Recognition depends on what parameters you use to calculate and compare accuracy.

The NCAA standard, mirrored by the ACC, is that a player qualifies to be ranked as a foul shooter if he makes a minimum of 2.5 free throws per game in at least 75 percent of the games played by his team. All the players listed below appeared in virtually every one of their teams’ contests through the 2023 season’s midpoint.

Best of the official qualifiers is UNC guard RJ Davis, who made 63 of 72 free throws through games of January 15. That’s good for .875 accuracy.

Among ACC regulars – those who’ve played at least 300 minutes and converted at least a pair of foul shots per game, a slightly more liberal standard we’ve used for years – Davis ranks fourth.

Tops among ACC regulars is Louisville’s unsung Kamari Lands, a rare bright spot for coach Kenny Payne’s squad. Lands, a 6-8 freshman from Indianapolis, has made 33 of 36 free throws for .917 accuracy.

Knowing who’s adept at making free throws is surely part of every team’s scouting report on its opponents, and should be shared with fans to the greatest extent possible.

Just 5 of the top 20 scorers in the ACC as of mid-January were counted among the official or unofficial best free throw shooters – Wake’s Appleby (2nd), along with Davis (11), Tyson (13), Hunter (18), and Kelly (20).

Four of the nine best foul shooters are grad students, extra practice over the course of their careers doubtless proving advantageous. The only freshmen among the nine leading charity stripe contributors are Lands and Duke’s Tyrese Proctor.

“We all know that free throws win games,” said Proctor, hitting .881 at the line. But conversion rates demonstrate it’s not so easy to transfer belief into reality, on or off the court.

Top 2023 Free Throw Accuracy Among Returning ACC Players,
Through Jan. 15
(Minimum 300 Minutes Played, Two Conversions Per Appearance)
FT% FT-FTA Player, School Games Official Rank Class
.917 33-36 Kamari Lands, UL 18 x Fr.
.889 32-36 Miles Kelly, GT 17 x So.
.881 37-42 Tyrese Proctor, D 18 x Fr.
.875 63-72 RJ Davis, NC 18 1 Jr.
.867 52-60 Nate Laszewski, ND 18 2 Gr.
.865 32-37 Cormac Ryan, ND 18 x Gr.
.847 61-72 Caleb Mills, FS 18 3 Jr.
.838 88-105 Tyree Appleby, WF 18 4 Gr.
.838 62-74 Hunter Tyson, C 18 5 Gr.