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Syracuse Basketball: Why Michael Gbinije is a Top 50 Player in College Basketball

Michael Gbinije was left off Jason McIntyre's "The 50 Best Players in College Basketball' list. Michael Gbinije is a top 50 player in college basketball.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Understandably, Michael Gbinije flew under the college basketball radar last season. As well as he played, he did it for a mediocre Syracuse team, and he did it in the shadow of Rakeem Christmas, who was playing out a magical senior season.

And as we inch closer to the start of the 2015-16 season, Gbinije is still flying under the radar. He was nowhere to be found Thursday on The Big Lead's "50 Best Players in College Basketball" list. The list, put together by Jason McIntyre, didn't include any Syracuse players. And only Malachi Richardson, who might not even start for the Orange, made the "Just Missed" section.

But make no mistake: Michael Gbinije is one of the 50 best players in college basketball. There's little that Gbinije can't do. He scores efficiently from just about everywhere. He's a good passer. He rebounds well for his position. And he's nearly as good defensively as he is offensively.

Of course, none of that means anything without comparing Gbinije to the players who did make McIntyre's list. So let's take a look at some of those players:
50. E.C. Matthews, G Rhode Island
Matthews is a high-volume shooter, particularly from 3. He took just under seven attempts from beyond the arc last season. But he shot only 32.5 percent from 3, and just 27 percent in conference play. Gbinije, meanwhile, shot 39.2 percent from 3 for the season and 42.2 percent during conference play.

Beyond that, Gbinije had an effective field goal percentage of 54.2 percent last season. Matthews? 41 percent. Gbinije also had more assists per game (3.6) than Matthews (2.0).

On the other side of the ball, Gbinije still had the Rhode Island guard beat. The SU guard averaged a full steal per game more than Matthews, had a slightly better defensive rebound percentage and finished with a significantly better defensive box plus/minus. And this was all despite the fact that Matthews played in a much weaker conference than Gbinije.
46. Ryan Arcidiacono, G Villanova

Much like Matthews, Arcidiacono likes to shoot the long ball but isn't quite the shooter that Gbinije is. He's a career 34.5 percent shooter from 3 and finished 2014-15 shooting 37.2 percent in the same category. That's nothing to scoff at, but those numbers are slightly worse than Gbinije's.

Arcidiacono is a nice two-way player, but Gbinije was better in almost every area last season. He was a better defender by most measures, a better rebounder on both ends and a more efficient scorer. Take a look:

43. Sheldon McClellan, G Miami

McClellan is yet another guard who doesn't shoot as well as Gbinije. McClellan shot a career-high 35.8 percent from 3 in 2014-15, but still lagged behind Gbinije. McClellan also shot just 33.7 percent on 2-point jumpers last season, per Hoop-Math. Gbinije shot 43.5 percent in that category.

McClellan is, however, a better finisher at the rim, where he took 36.5 percent of his shots last season and converted on 71.7 percent of them.

That's thanks largely to his athleticism, which also gives him the potential to be a solid perimeter defender. But McClellan is still inconsistent on that end. He's not much of a distributor, either, and, at least statistically speaking, he's no better than Gbinije on the boards.

32. Xavier Rathan-Mayes, G Florida State

Rathan-Mayes, who scored at least 30 points in three games last season, will likely play in the NBA at some point and should ultimately go down as a better player than Gbinije. But he isn't better right now.

Rathan-Mayes shot more than five 3s per game in 2014-15 and made only 28.1 percent of them. He also struggled with his decision making (3.4 turnovers per game) and showed he has a long way to go defensively.

He's an explosive player with loads of potential, but Rathan-Mayes has plenty of polishing to do as he enters his sophomore season. Strictly for this season, Gbinije is probably the more reliable option.


These aren't the only players that you could take off the list and replace with Gbinije. You could argue that, for one season at the college level, you'd rather have him than guys like Yogi Ferrell and Damion Lee.

It's easy to make those cases because Gbinije is one of the more complete players you'll find. He just doesn't have holes in his game. He's Syracuse's best player and, barring Richardson exploding as a freshman, it's really not close.

We'll see if that translates to him getting more recognition this season.