Max Hooper: American Hero
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Well, he did it.
If you haven’t heard of Max Hooper, I wouldn’t blame you, but he well and truly accomplished something incredible this year.
I also wouldn’t blame you if you haven’t heard of Michigan's Oakland or the Vegas 16.
In it’s inaugural year, the Vegas 16 hosted … well ... 8 teams.
This stuff happens in an event's first year, apparently. The organizing dudes thought more of Sin City's attractions than did clubs still smarting from NCAA and NIT -- NIT! -- snubs.
Our man Max, though, spent this year as he always has, chucking threes and entirely ignoring two-point shots.
But this season, he really took it to another level. Dude put up 257 threes, or 7.3 per game, which is a lot but not exactly unheard of.
However, what makes this true American hero so special is that he managed to not shoot a two all year long.
That's right. Hooper played over 24 minutes a game this year, and didn’t once try a two. In fact, dude's a career 6-for-11 on two-point shots through his four years of college ball.
This is a hard thing to really comprehend. That means that, somehow:
- Max didn’t get a single break away layup,
- Wasn’t ever randomly left open down low, and maybe most impressively,
- He took 257 treys without stepping on the arc line even once.
But it really only gets better from there:
- Max also shied away from tabulating any meaningful stats except for his beloved three-point shot,
- He only had 16 assists this year, a 0.5 per game average, and
- He only gobbled up 63 rebounds for a 1.8 per game average.
It’s not like he’s a really small guy either. Hooper lists at 6-foot-6, 206 pounds.
Does he at least get to the foul line a lot?
Nope. Hooper only took 26 free throws this year, although he did go 25-26, which proves that he is physically capable of making a shot inside the three-point line
You might think this would make him one dimensional and thus easy to defend, but he actually made 45.5% of his threes this year, and when you shoot 7.3 per game, you’re actually doing some damage.
Believe it or not, Hooper was actually the 7th-best player in the nation in offensive rating.
The dude puts up some pretty impressive game-to-game stat lines, like his dual gems at Valparaiso in which he played 16 minutes, was 0-2 from long distance, picked up three fouls, but didn’t record another stat.
Or in his early season game at Robert Morris, where ...
- He played 29 minutes,
- Went 8-17 from three, and
- Grabbed one rebound.
The other part of this is that his coach must be okay with his shot selection; otherwise, he wouldn’t be getting the minutes he is.
I guess if dude’s shooting over 45%, it’s hard to complain, but I have to think most coaches would be extremely annoyed with players who have the size but don’t compete for other stats like they should.
At any rate, dude should be regarded as a national hero, and I think we should name a holiday after him.
Every 29 March should be Max Hooper Day.
Hopefully, every day he had after that was Max Hooper's Dad Day.
Also, can you believe we’re this far into this article and I have yet to mention his name is literally Max Hooper?
Can you have a better basketball name?
This is a complete tangent, but while we’re discussing great college basketball names, Florida State had a player this year named Dwayne Bacon. Complementing that, Hartford had a guy named Pancake Thomas.
Pancake Thomas! Incredible. What a time to be alive.
I think they both slightly edge out my previous favorite name in college basketball, Former Nebraska player, Cookie Miller.
OK, so he wasn't a saint.
Anyway, back in the present, the takeaway here is if we could somehow make Pancake Thomas and Dwayne Bacon fall in love, and have Pancake take Bacon’s last name, we’d have a real human on this earth named Pancake Bacon, and if he didn’t then openhis own chain of breakfast places, then I'd lose faith in all humanity.
Diverting back to the main course here, Oakland was actually a fascinating team this year, and not just because of Max Hooper.
The Golden Grizzlies sported a second statistical oddity.
Watch this space to discover Oakland's best player.