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Inverted Offensive Production

Some players end up shooting better from behind the line than they do closer to the basket

Maryland Eastern Shore v Duke
DURHAM, NC - DECEMBER 10: Dariq Whitehead #0 of the Duke Blue Devils puts up a three-point shot against Ahamadou Fofana #0 of the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks at Cameron Indoor Stadium on December 10, 2022 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 82-55.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

A discrete cadre of ACC players annually hit 3-pointers at a better clip than field goals overall. Many of these shooters, year in and year out, happen to be freshmen. They also are, for the most part, reserves who see on average under 10 minutes of action per game.

In recent memory, 2020 saw a handsome assemblage of nine shooters better from beyond the arc than inside it. In 2021 there were seven. In 2022 there were five. Last year a mere three came back. Two more left their 2023 posts, angling for more promising pastures after battling injuries.

The most prominent departee was Duke’s Dariq Whitehead, whose physical woes limited both his playing time and effectiveness. Projected among the country’s top freshmen, Whitehead was slowed by late-summer surgery on his right foot. Played discretely, his effectiveness ripened after sitting out the first four games of the ’23 season. He was only ninth in minutes played among the Blue Devils, missing eight outings entirely.

The chiseled 6-7 product of Montverde Academy and Newark, NJ, was smooth, powerful and unafraid. Whitehead started only one in five Duke games, yet was so well-regarded by coach Jon Scheyer he averaged better than 20 mnutes per contest, fifth on the team. Whitehead emerged as a potent perimeter performer, leading the squad and ACC regulars with a .429 conversion rate on 98 3-pointers, as his appearance in this chart attests.

Based as much on promise as any other attribute, in 2023 Whitehead was another first-round NBA draft choice from Duke.

Another who departed the ACC following last season was the 2020 NC prep player of the year. But when Josh Pastner was let go, Tristan Maxwell, a three-season contributor from Huntersville headed for the transfer portal, along with four erstwhile Georgia Tech teammates. The 6-3 guard is a son of Vernon Maxwell, a two-time NBA scoring leader with Houston.

Like Whitehead, injuries hampered Maxwell, who resettled at Hampton this season. His best college game came against BC in 2022, when he hit 7 of 11 3-pointers for 22 points immediately after returning from injury.

Incidentally, of the five returning 3FGM over FGM players in the ACC in 2022 – Virginia Tech’s Sean Pedulla, Syracuse’s Joe Girard III, BC’s Jaeden Zachery, Miami’s Bensley Joseph, and Georgia Tech’s Deebo Coleman – all got more playing time and increased their scoring average in 2022-23.

Many of those players are still around. Pedulla remains a prominent part of the Hokies’ powerful offense. Girard is now at Clemson. Justin Taylor, a Charlottesville native who was among the ’23 3FG/2FG leaders, returns to Syracuse. Joseph came back at Miami. Towering Jorge Diaz Graham remains at Pitt along with Guillermo, his like-sized brother. Tom House stayed at FSU and Dallan “Deebo’ Coleman is still at Georgia Tech.

3-Point Pct. Better Than 2-Point Pct. Among ACC Regulars In 2023
(Minimum 200 Minutes Played In 2023)
3%-2% Player, School Starts Mins. 3A as % FGA
.429-.421 Dariq Whitehead, D 7 20.6 (577) .497
.393-.383 Justin Taylor, SU* 2 16.7 (484) .570
.353-.309 Jorge Diaz Graham, UP* 1 9.1 (281) .486
.306-.263 Tristen Maxwell, GT 2 11.6 (208) .450
.244-.241 Tom House, FS* 1 7.6 (230) .760
* Returning player.