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The Greatest Modern College Basketball Individual Season

It’s difficult to compare players from different era’s. We’ve written about this extensively in the NBA where we have tools that date back to the beginning. In college basketball, it’s much more difficult given those tools don’t exist until the last 20 years. There are also such varying strengths of schedules unlike in the NBA. We do have the benefit of knowing how good their teams were and even how players would go on to perform in the NBA. We will take a look at this season as Zach Edey just capped off undoubtedly one of the greatest seasons individual seasons in college basketball history.

The seasons will likely be remembered more for the upset by Fairleigh Dickinson, but I think we need to look beyond one game. He led a flawed team to the Big Ten regular season and tournament championships and the #1 seed. We picked him last summer as the best player in college basketball heading into the season and projected him to average 20 and 12 and finish second in the Player of the Year. That was only because we weren’t believers in the team around him. Needless to say he didn’t disappoint, but where does this incredible season rank in the last 20 years by the metrics? This is our ADJeff model adjusted for SOS. Since we are using it so heavily in our rankings it’s probably helpful to know what the all-time highest scores would be, at least back to 2002 as far as the numbers exist.

1Zion Williamson40.842018-19Duke9.8
2Zach Edey40.212022-23Purdue8.2
3Luka Garza35.572020-21Iowa8.0
4Luka Garza34.362019-20Iowa7.8
5Frank Kaminsky34.432014-15Wisconsin7.7
6John Collins35.912016-17Wake Forest7.4
7Michael Beasley37.152007-08Kansas State7.3
8Trayce Jackson-Davis34.162022-23Indiana7.2
9Keegan Murray37.752021-22Iowa7.1
10Anthony Davis35.132011-12Kentucky7.0
Oscar Tshiebwe35.022021-22Kentucky7.0

As you can see it’s going to be pretty hard for anyone to post a season like Zion Williamson did vs the level of SOS he did it against is insane. Zion’s seasons doesn’t necessarily jump off the page averaging 23 and 9 until you realize that is only in 30 minutes a game and that he shot 68% from the floor and had over a 70% True Shooting while maintaining a 29 usage. What is maybe even more insane than that is the defensive stats 2.1spg and 1.8bpg in 30 minutes vs a top 5 to 10 SOS. Edey posted his 40 PER season vs a 40th SOS.

Others people may be interested in how they stacked up.

Other NotablePERADJeff
Derrick Williams32.752010-11Arizona6.6
Deandre Ayton32.612017-18Arizona6.2
Doug McDermott32.192011-12Creighton6.2
DeMarcus Cousins34.182009-10Kentucky6.0
Kevin Durant32.752006-07Texas6.0
Jimmer Fredette30.9020010-11BYU5.5

I wish the numbers existed to go back in time and run seasons like Shaquille O’Neal, Glenn Robinson, Tim Duncan, Pete Maravich, Larry Bird and others had. It was a different game back then but would still be interesting.

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