Tyler Hall was the only player in college basketball who averaged at least 22 points per game while shooting 42 percent from three-point range. Montana State‘s junior guard is one of the best shooters in the country and the best player in the Big Sky Conference.
The 6-foot-4, 175-pound guard, a former two-star recruit from Illinois who had zero high-major offers, made an immediate impact in Bozeman as a freshman, averaging 18.6 points on 46-percent shooting (43 percent from deep). Hall was even better last year, bumping his scoring, shooting, assists and rebounding numbers.
“I always have got a chip on my shoulder,” he said this summer. “And I’ve always got something to prove.”
While Hall’s individual numbers are outstanding, he is also the leader of a team capable of reaching their first NCAA Tournament since 1996. A supporting cast of Harald Frey — last year’s Big Sky Newcomer of the Year — and Devonte Klines in the backcourt and Zach Green up front give the Bobcats a potential 20-win team and more opportunities for Hall to raise his NBA draft stock.
Here are the other top-five players in the Big Sky Conference for the 2017-18 season.
2. Victor Sanders – Idaho
Another lights-out shooter, Victor Sanders returns for his senior season after withdrawing from the NBA Draft.
The 6-foot-5, 190-pound guard was one of three players to shoot at least 44 percent from beyond the arc (minimum of 95 made attempts). He averaged 20.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists in earning all-conference honors. Sanders become just the 16th Idaho player to score 1,000 points.
3. Bogdan Bliznyuk – Eastern Washington
Kansas guard Svi Mykhailiuk is the most well-known Ukraine-born player in college basketball but Eastern Washington’s Bogdan Bliznyuk is pretty darn good too.
The 6-foot-6, 215-pound senior has improved dramatically in each of his three years. He had seven 30-point games last year (20.6 points per game), attacks the bucket as well as anyone in the conference and is a matchup nightmare.
4. Brekkott Chapman – Weber State
Brekkott Chapman is a former four-star recruit who played two seasons at Utah before transferring to Weber State last year.
The 6-foot-8, 215-pound native of Roy, Utah, mostly played power forward for the Utes but is expected to be given more freedom on the outside with the Wildcats. He’s been lauded by teammates for a well-rounded game that includes versatility on defense.
“He’s a very special player. I think he’s going to be a key part of our offense,” said senior Ryan Richardson of Chapman. “He does it all. He can shoot from the outside, he can drive, he can post up, he can do everything, he’s very versatile. I don’t think there’s a lot of guys in our league who can guard him, to be honest.”
5. Geno Crandall – North Dakota
After two strong years alongside upperclassmen, it’s Geno Crandall’s turn to lead a North Dakota team that could make a second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Minnesotan shot 50 percent from the floor in averaging a career-high 15.5 points per game last year. His perimeter game greatly improved but he can still be better on the outside.