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Projecting Aidan Shaw’s Freshman Year

Aside from his monster vertical leaping ability, what are we expecting from Aidan Shaw in his first season on campus?

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The stars aligned in the spring of 2017 for Missouri to land an unprecedented recruiting class. It was a top 5 class nationally, and featured the top ranked player in the class... the enigmatic Michael Porter, Jr. From that spring — all the way through this past fall — Mizzou recruiting had a lot more striking out on their top recruits than anything else.

Then Aidan Shaw made his pledge for the Tigers. Shaw was the highest ranked recruit since Jeremiah Tilmon, a member of the 2017 class.

Being it’s been a while since Mizzou had to deal with a highly sought-after recruit, we may not know exactly what to expect.

So let’s get this out of the way to begin with… what you’re about to read is a very loose exercise to attempt at giving a reasonable range for expectation. Recruiting rankings are erratic and while they’re typically trustworthy as a baseline, they are much more effective in the macro than in the micro. For example, landing elite recruiting classes in football is good because you’re generally stacking elite prospects on top of each other. So when a few don’t work out, you can rebound with others. Basketball class rankings are not like that. If one highly ranked prospect doesn’t work out it can hinder your entire class. But at the same time, one big hit on a prospect is akin to landing an elite quarterback.

Aidan Shaw has been compared to Jerami Grant, a 10 year NBA veteran who played two seasons at Syracuse. Grant averaged just 3.9 points per game as a freshman in college, and played just under 15 minutes per game. As a sophomore his production jumped to 12.1 points per game, and with that jump NBA scouts saw a player you could project so he jumped into the draft.

For Shaw, the best case scenario might be becoming a player like Grant. A long time NBA player who’s averaged over 20 points per game in Detroit the last few seasons. But is that the best case scenario for Missouri?

Shaw hitting a little earlier than Grant did would do wonders for a team hoping to get back into the NCAA Tournament conversation. But what can we expect, or perhaps hope for, with Shaw as a freshman?

For the exercise I looked at the production levels of similarly ranked players to Shaw, and at his position. Shaw ended up the 58th ranked player in the 247sports.com Composite. So I tried to keep the range from 40 to 70. I was also trying to look at similar players. Bigger wings with athleticism.

Detroit Pistons v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

2021:

  • Josh Minott, Memphis (24) — 6.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 114.5 ORtg, 57% TS
  • Dontrez Styles, North Carolina (16) — 2.0 ppg, 90.4 ORtg, 47.5% TS

Styles was stuck behind more experienced players for a North Carolina team than made a run to the Championship game this past year. Leaky Black was the starter at small forward, and played over 70% of the minutes at the small forward position. Minott didn’t play a ton at Memphis, as he was behind Landers Nolley, but his huge upside allowed him to jump into the NBA Draft conversation. He was taken 45th by the Charlotte Hornets, and traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

2020:

  • Micah Peavy, Texas Tech (17) — 5.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 98.9 ORtg, 46.3% TS
  • Dalen Terry, Arizona (29) — 4.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 98.2 ORtg, 51.8% TS
  • Andre Jackson, UConn (21) — 2.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 92.3 ORtg, 49.1% TS
  • Alex Fudge, LSU (21) — 3.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 91.1 ORtg, 47.3% TS

Peavy was a standout as a sophomore at TCU this past season, but as you can see he had a modest impact as a freshman at Texas Tech. Dalen Terry had a similar sophomore bump, and Andre Jackson showed flashes of brilliance this past season. Fudge took a prep year and was stuck behind some experienced wings at LSU, so he transferred to Florida. But none of these players really hit at freshmen, and you can see they weren’t particularly efficient either.

2019:

  • Alonzo Gaffney, Ohio State (8) — 1.8 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 79.7 ORtg, 56% TS
  • Jalen Wilson, Kansas (1) — injured
  • Max Agbonkpolo, USC (55) — 2.5 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 93.3 ORtg, 44.1% TS

This was a bit of a rough year. Gaffney has transferred to New Mexico after going to JUCO after a season of non-existent play in Columbus. Jalen Wilson spent the year sidelined with an injury, but was a key player for KU as a redshirt freshman. Max Agbonkpolo broke into the lineup at USC full time this past season and then transferred.

2018:

  • Gerald Lidell, Texas (25) — 1.3 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 92.7 ORtg, 44.4% TS
  • Khavon Moore, Texas Tech (5) — injured
  • Robert Woodard, Mississippi State (21) — 5.5 ppg, 4.1 ppg, 111.5 ORtg, 52% TS
  • Landers Nolley, Virginia Tech (13) — redshirt
  • Keyontae Johnson, Florida (26) — 8.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 106.6 ORtg, 53.9% TS

Johnson was the best of the bunch here. He was an explosive cutter and was great off the ball for a solid Florida team. Nolley redshirted as a freshmen before having a breakout season as a sophomore. He’s since transferred to Memphis. Woodard was similar to Johnson but in a lesser role. He was a big physical wing who excelled as a cutter. Both Lidell and Moore never caught on. Lidell transferred to Alabama after three lackluster years at Texas. He was an explosive athlete who never put it all together. Khavon Moore went from a top 60 wing, to Texas Tech, to Clemson, to UC-Upstate.

Life can come at you fast for some of these guys. We’ve all attempted to project our top eight players in the rotation, and Shaw is in my top 8. I think he comes off the bench and plays 18-20 minutes a game. Maybe less. So 40% of the minutes, the high end seems to be about 8 points per game and somewhere between 5 and 6 ppg seems about right. It’s also important for him to be efficient. Anything over 100 ORtg would be good.

So where do you think Aidan Shaw ends up with a stat-line for his freshman season?