Basile could go from reserve to star in 2021
If it had happened in any other season, Grant Basile’s freshman year likely wouldn’t have warranted consideration for anything more than the fifth and final spot on the Horizon League All-Freshman team. While his stats compare favorably to Malachi Smith’s in 2019 and Jalen Tate’s in 2018, there are several seasons where his 6.2 points and 4.3 rebounds wouldn’t have even earned him an All-Freshman Team spot. Which makes him a perfect candidate for the next type of breakout performer.
When looking for potential breakout players, former Sports Illustrated writer (and current Toronto Raptors Director of Prospect Strategy) Luke Winn put together a formula to pick out players who posted pedestrian statistics as freshmen but could erupt onto the scene as sophomores. While the formula isn’t public, Winn describes the basic parameters as follows:
The formula strives to avoid too-obvious selections, and therefore its picks are restricted to players that averaged single-digit points last season and played not much more than 20 minutes per game.
During their time on the court, these Breakout Sophomore Formula picks took a notable share of their team’s shots (in most cases, 23% or higher) with a respectable level of efficiency (an offensive rating of at least 100, or one point per possession). They’re also likely to receive more playing time due to changes in roster composition.
While Winn’s handful of picks ranged from college basketball’s Blue Bloods to mid-to-low-major Ivy Leaguers, this site is obviously limited to one league. As such, there aren’t a ton of players who come close to fitting the bill. This is especially true coming off of what was a fairly underwhelming freshman class. If you look exclusively at last year’s All-Freshman picks, Amari Davis and Tanner Holden are excluded from this list for scoring too much and playing too many minutes. Blake Lampman, CJ Wilbourn and Summit League All-Freshman Team pick Deonte Billups are excluded for having usage rates well below 23 percent last year. Grant Basile is the lone player who fits the mold not just among All-Freshman Team picks, but in the league as a whole.
Basile averaged just 6.2 points and 14.3 minutes per game, both under the “obvious” thresholds that disqualify Davis and Holden. His 23.8 percent usage rate and 101.3 offensive rating are both in range to show he has the potential to be an efficient offensive weapon on a higher volume of shots as a sophomore. Finally, the graduation of several key players should give Basile the opportunity to play a much bigger role in 2021. While 2020 Second Team All-League forward Bill Wampler will be the most relevant to a Basile breakout, the departures of Cole Gentry and Jordan Ash should make the Raiders more likely to favor larger lineups over those with extra guards. Wright State Head Coach Scott Nagy indicated that lineups featuring both Basile and Horizon League Preseason Player of the Year Loudon Love would be more common this year.
Even without diving too far into the advanced statistics, a big season from Basile following the graduation of Wampler makes a lot of sense. When Love was injured last season and Basile was forced into the lineup, he averaged 13.8 points and 10 rebounds with an effective field goal percentage of 56.4. The Raiders went 4-1 in that stretch, tallying a victory over Western Kentucky and its projected NBA draft pick center Charles Bassey.
So whether you look at the advanced metrics that helped a former Sports Illustrated writer land a job scouting college players in the NBA or just the brief glimpse of what we all witnessed when he was thrust into the spotlight, Grant Basile clearly seems like a player primed for a breakout season in 2021. Battling with Love and fellow All-Freshman Team pick Holden for shots might keep him from showing the upper limits to his potential this year, but don’t be shocked if the 6-foot-9 forward is a rising star in 2021.